Kent State’s ‘A Stroll Through Florence’ offers virtual study abroad experience

Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall of Florence, sits right outside the heart of the city adjacent to the Arno River.

Ella Donovan Reporter

Editor’s Note: This story has been edited for accuracy and clarity regarding attractions featured in the virtual tour. 

Sweeping vineyards, hillside farms, historical renaissance architecture and art pieces such as Michelangelo’s statue of David are just a few of the characteristics that makes Florence, Italy, one of Kent State’s most popular study abroad locations. 

Though study abroad programs have been shut down over the last academic year due to COVID-19, Kent State students have the opportunity to explore Florence, Italy, virtually during “A Stroll Through Florence” organized by the university’s World in a Flash program. 

In a livestream tour led by Rocky Ruggiero, Ph.D., an art history professor at Kent State’s Florence Campus, student’s will travel through the streets of Florence while Ruggiero explains the significance of local historical buildings and highlights some of the city’s most famous tourist attractions that are typically staples of the study abroad experience.

While the architecture throughout Florence is memorable, there are many other places right outside the city to explore like the Castello di Verrazzano Vineyard or Viareggio, a beach with a beautiful view of the coastline an hour’s car ride outside of the city. 

“You have all the art and the culture that’s in the city but then the beauty that’s in the surrounding countryside,” he said. “The nature [is] literally within arms reach of the city so it’s a pretty extraordinary experience.”

The tour begins at Palazzo Vettori which is the headquarters of the Kent State Florence program. From there, the tour works its way through the center of Florence and comes to a close above the Arno River which overlooks the city as well as St. Trinity Bridge where locals can be seen passing underneath on Venetian rowing boats.

Not only will students get a chance to sight see in Florence, but they get to see in real time how the recent pandemic has affected tourism in Italy.

“All the participants get to see the great architecture and the beauty of the city,” Ruggiero said, “but they also get to see a pretty good image of what’s going on in Italy right now in relation to the COVID pandemic as well.”

All proceeds received from the event will go toward the Kent State Florence Study Abroad Program

“A Stroll Through Florence” will be held May 23 at 2 p.m. and a recording of the event will be available until May 30 for those who register. 

Tickets cost $20 to attend, and those interested must RSVP by May 20. A Zoom link will be provided after ticket purchase.

Ella Donovan is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].