From Michelangelo's Renaissance to Social Media
Florence, Siena, Pisa, San Gimignano, and Rome, Italy


Communication 496:  Field Studies in Communication, 3 credits


Junior or Senior standing or Permission of Instructor


A limited number of $500 scholarships will be available on a competitive basis to matriculated CCSU students with a GPA of at least 2.50 who are registered for at least one of the academic courses associated with this program.

Painters, sculptors, writers, and scientists of the Italian Renaissance revolutionized the ways of thinking and representing the world five hundred years ago. Looking at their works is as fresh and engaging today as it was back then. Michelangelo, Botticelli, Dante and Galileo Galilei all thrived under the patronage of the rich and powerful Medici Family in Florence in Tuscany. We will discover their traces as they can be found today in public places, museums, churches, on bell towers and in everyday life.

For students interested in communication, visual culture and art, film, photography, fashion, design and architecture, the cities of Italy provide a feast for the eyes. Our journeys will begin and conclude in Florence as the hub of creative activity. You can enjoy this lively, buzzing town, full of international students and tourists with fancy stores, lively public life, the many piazzas and the art of the evening walk through the city, la passeggiata. To embrace the contemporary life, we will not only start our trip with a bike tour through Florence but also learn how to cook gnocci and tiramisu in a cooking school off the beaten path. We will visit major world class museums, learn about history and visual perspective, painting and sculpture but also have a tour of the famous leather school, run by three generations of the same Florentine family behind the Santa Croce church. You will discover the major milestones of the Italian Renaissance but also get a feel how these traditions continue and are maintained in contemporary Italian life. Our theme “From Michelangelo’s Renaissance to Social Media” helps us discover the enduring legacy of the past in the present.

Participants will work on individual (research) projects and spend time to trace the history of the Renaissance in photographs, videos and other visual representations. Bring camcorders, cameras and painting utensils and explore this picturesque treasure trove of beauty. To enhance our knowledge of Italian art and life, we will also venture out by train during several day trips to the amazing city of Siena, Pisa, San Gimignano, and ultimately Rome. There will be many opportunities for you to discover Florence and the surrounding towns during walks on your own as you become more seasoned international travelers.

Dr. Karen Ritzenhoff has travelled with students to Sicily and Paris, France over the past ten years. She promotes independence and learning while also looking at tangible outcomes that will be shared in a public event on June 18, 2014 with fellow students, faculty, friends and family. Each student has to master knowledge about the Renaissance before departure and will collect the data, visual materials and raw footage while in Italy. Every student is expected to complete a short project that can be shared with peers. Topics can range from life style, contemporary culture, food, fashion, art, advertising, and the ever present co-existence of the Renaissance legacy in everyday life. To enhance this knowledge, we will visit Siena by train for a day, explore the little alleys, wander through the City Hall with its unique and impressive frescoe paintings, explore the impressive duomo and the adjacent museum that features a terrace with breathtaking panoramas across the Tuscan landscape. We will also have gelato on the Il Campo Place in the center of town where the horse races take place in the height of summer. On two more day trips we will explore the tilting tower of Pisa and the enchanting town of San Gimignano. We will round off the visit with a cooking class in Florence at “In Tavola” cooking school.
Our journey will take us to an exciting trip into the past that makes us understand why Florence was so influential in shaping modern consciousness, the arts, visual culture and communication. Only if you grasp an understanding of visual codes and conventions in the Renaissance can you appreciate contemporary visual culture and communication. This will be an eye-opening trip that also helps you become a world traveler. As our global community is expanding, you can still find wisdom in the breathtakingly beautiful roots of Italian heritage. This will be a trip full of surprises where we will mix contemporary lifestyle with the legacy of the past.
Students from several classes in Communication and other related disciplines in the arts and sciences are welcome to join. We will work across disciplinary boundaries to allow for different perspectives. The trip will provide students with travel skills, reading maps, finding one’s way in European cities, enjoying the exchange of ideas with other international students and tourists. Florence is the hub of our experience because it is full of life but safe to travel. We will be able to get everyway by foot. Our day trips will start at the modern Florentine train station with quick, cheap and reliable connections to Siena, Pisa and Rome. Returning to Florence to recharge, and work on individual projects will give us the feeling of connectedness, needed to become creative. This is not a study abroad trip of passive consumption but a learning experience that will broaden and engage your mind, and tease your sensations of smell, sound and palette. Needless to say Italy is a heaven of sensations and Tuscany is always new and exciting. Political turmoils and economic hardships have not squished this legacy.
Please look at the website from the 2013 study abroad tour to Tuscany where students posted blogs of their experiences:

Registration Information and Program Costs

The cost of the travel program includes round-trip airport transfers in the U.S. and abroad, economy-class international airfare, double- or triple-occupancy accommodations, continental breakfast daily, and ground transportation and entrance fees to all required site visits. All personal expenses (i.e., medical, souvenirs, laundry, telephone, etc.) are not included.   Course tuition is not included in the Course Abroad program fee.

Fulfillment of the University's International Requirement: 

All credits earned overseas on a CCSU-sponsored study abroad program, including courses offered in conjunction with Course Abroad programs, automatically receive "I Designation" and count toward fulfillment of the University's General Education International Requirement.

Registration Form


$2,995 per person, based on multiple occupancy and exclusive of course fees


A limited number of scholarships are available on a competitive basis.

Travel Dates

June 5 - 14, 2014

Faculty Director

Prof.  Karen Ritzenhoff
Communication Department
(860) 832-2692

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