Florentine Art Walks

Stories from the Classroom

By Emily Johns

There is no better way to learn about the city our students have chosen to live in for the semester than to spend a few hours a week walking around their city and immersing in the history of it. Here at The American University of Florence (AUF), we offer an innovative style of teaching and learning, where the students step outside the classroom and step into the history of Florence they are learning about during class. Our Florentine Art Walk courses are given a theme or topic each week, from Medieval Florence to Baroque Florence to Contemporary Florence, the students witness what they are reading about firsthand and see how the city of Florence has both evolved and withstood the test of time. This approach to learning that AUF has adopted is called Walking Without a Classroom, or WWAC for short. It allows our students to engage with the local environment, while still being guided by the textbook.

The Florentine Art Walk classes took a trip to the archeological site in Fiesole. Settled by the Etruscans in 6th century BC, Fiesole officially became a proper town in 4th century BC, and eventually became a Municipium by the Roman Colony in the 1st century BC. Our students were able to see the original Etruscan temple, the additions added by the Roman colony, the Roman theater, and the Roman thermal baths. They got to see for their own eyes ancient Etruscan/ Roman ruins and were able to visualize what life would have been like so long ago. One of the professors that has been teaching our Florentine Art Walks course for almost 5 years, Cecilia Ricci, had this to say about WWAC courses; “our classroom becomes the city, with its churches, monuments, streets, squares, where the student correctly stimulated by the professor can listen rather than read—memorizing and learning through a direct observation of the site.” Professor Ricci is only one of our professors that feels WWAC courses are valuable tools for students to create effective learning, while also making deep connections and memories to the sites and monuments they are learning about.
Florence is steeped in the rich history of the Renaissance, it is not something that should be learnt by reading a textbook, rather should be experienced in-person, our Walk Without a Classroom courses allows the students to do just that. We at FUA-AUF are grateful our students can be active participants during their classes through this experience-oriented learning style, and we hope they leave our institution with a well-rounded understanding of the history of Florence, both academically and culturally.

What's Burning podcast: Reimagining Culinary Education

Reimagining Culinary Education with Dr. Gabriella Ganugi and Mitchel Davis

What's Burning Podcast

By Becca Baitel
The American University of Florence's President, Gabriella Ganugi, was recently interviewed by the Galilee Culinary Institute (GCI) Rosenfeld School of Culinary Arts’ podcast, What’s Burning, which interviews experts in the field to reimagine culinary education and inspire excellence. Scheduled to open its doors fully in person in 2023 in the agricultural region of Galilee, Israel, GCI spoke with Ganugi about her career as an entrepreneur, author, and pioneer in international higher education. Winner of both the 2010 Association of Italian American Educators “Educator of the Year” Award and the 2012 University of South Florida President’s Global Leadership, Ganugi has always possessed an aptitude for education and research, beginning her early career as an architecture student working in academia. She then went on to establish the Florence University of the Arts, including the world-renowned Apicius School of Hospitality in 1997, making the institution the first international hospitality school in Italy.

Once starting with as few as 62 full-time students, the hospitality and culinary department Apicius, has flourished into an impressive institution boasting over 97% student employment rate after graduation, as well as a plethora of different facilities including the Fedora Pastry Shop, Sorgiva Spa, Ganzo Restaurant, Pomario Botanical Retail Store, and the fashion store, FLY. The President’s educational philosophy around experiential and community-based learning is particularly illustrated through the opportunities for culinary arts students. For Dr. Ganugi and many Italians, food is a central part of the culture - connecting people over a sit-down meal and fostering community, which for her, was monumental when she established Apicius.

“Usually, international programs or American programs in Florence tend to isolate students in an island program,” Ganugi states. “[At AUF], residents [are] coming in using the spa and pastry shop, and students are taking classes at the same time, so [people of any age] can interact and learn from the community and the community learns from us.” Dr. Ganugi also elaborates on the importance of integration into a new place and culture, especially given the challenges of constant traveling among students. She hopes to set that precedent through the community services offered by Apicius and AUF as a whole.