How CAPA Makes the Entire City of Florence a Classroom

Nov 26, 2019 9:00:00 AM / by Sarah Graham

During CAPA classes, the city becomes your classroom. Check out Sarah's blog to find out about some of the incredible museums, churches, and exhibits she visited while in class in Florence!

Ciao, and welcome back to my blog! This week I want to show you all of the amazing places that I’ve visited while in class. At CAPA Florence, my education is a little different from your typical classroom. In several of my classes, we spend class time exploring the city. This is one of my favorite things about studying with CAPA. Class is more interactive, and I’ve gotten to see the city while going to school. Here’s what I’ve seen in class so far. 

Santa Maria Novella Church

In my literature class, we visited the church of Santa Maria Novella. This is one of my favorite churches in Florence. I come to this piazza often for the bus stop, so I’ve developed a fondness for this area. The church combines both gothic and renaissance architecture. It’s one of Florence’s first great basilica’s, and it’s the main Dominican church in Florence. 

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall2019_Florence_Sarah Graham_SantaMariaNovellaJPGThis church is pretty incredible!

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall2019_Florence_Sarah Graham_SantaMariaNovella2JPG

Botany of Leonardo Exhibit

During our visit to Santa Maria Novella, our class was also able to witness the Botany of Leonardo exhibit. I have been seeing posters for this exhibit all over, so it was cool to be able to see it while in class. This exhibit brings together science and nature, looking further into Leonardo da Vinci’s botanical studies under a scientific lens.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall2019_Florence_Sarah Graham_BotanyExhibitJPGThe botany of Leonardo.

Museo Novecento

This art museum is the closest thing that Florence has to a modern art museum. In my creative writing class, we visited this museum with the assignment that we had to write a poem about one of the art pieces. Although it’s not a historical museum, this has been one of my favorite places that I’ve gotten to see while in class.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall2019_Florence_Sarah Graham_NovecentoArtJPGOne of my favorite pieces from this museum.

Church of Orsanmichele

I’ve talked about this church in a past blog, so I’ll keep it brief for this one. This church is smaller but still really beautiful. Free entry to the church and museum is offered on every first Sunday of the month. My creative writing class came here for a writing exercise. 

Breakfast at Caffe Giubbe Rosse

For one of my first history classes, at the time, we were learning about futurism, so we had breakfast futurist style at this historic cafe. This cafe in Piazza della Republica is quite nice, and it has a history of serving famous literary scholars and intellectuals. We had just read Filippo Marinetti’s Manifesto of Futurism, and Marinetti himself ate at this cafe. 

Church of Santa Trinita

I visited this basilica in another one of my creative writing classes. This is a Roman Catholic church in central Florence. I believe this church is usually open to the public. I thought the chapels were especially beautiful.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall2019_Florence_Sarah Graham_SantaTrinitaJPGBe sure to look at the chapels if you come to this church!

House of Dante

In my literature class, we read and learn all about the great Florentine poet Dante. So, it was only fitting that we visited the House of Dante. This museum sits in the area that it is believed that Dante lived. The museum holds exhibits about his writings and also life in Florence during his time.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall2019_Florence_Sarah Graham_InfernoJPGA map of Dante’s Inferno.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall2019_Florence_Sarah Graham_DanteMindJPGThe great mind of Dante.

Field Trip to Fiesole: Fondazione Primo Conti and the EU Institute

For my history class, we took a field trip to Fiesole, a beautiful area right outside of Florence. First, we visited the Primo Conti Museum. Conti was an Italian futurist artist born in Florence. The art museum holds his original art and is actually also in the property that Conti himself lived in. I had never heard of Primo Conti before, but I ended up really loving his art. The museum was in a beautiful place and I found a new favorite artist.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall2019_Florence_Sarah Graham_ContiPortraitJPGA Conti self-portrait.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall2019_Florence_Sarah Graham_FiesoleJPGThe surrounding area of Fiesole.

In the same day, we also visited the European University Institute. We had lunch outside overlooking Florence, and we went inside the church of the institute. The institute is an international postgraduate program for students of the EU. It was cool to be in a place where I was hearing conversations in several different languages. 

Piazzale Michelangelo and San Miniato Church

From Piazzale Michelangelo, you see arguably the best view of Florence. I really love it here. In my creative writing class, we came here for an out-of-class writing exercise. Here, we visited the church of San Miniato. It’s definitely one of the most scenic churches, and its Romanesque architecture is certainly impressive.


CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall2019_Florence_Sarah Graham_PiazzaleMichelangeloJPGThe view from Piazzale Michelangelo on our day of class.

Overall, I think it’s so incredible that I’ve gotten to do all of this in the form of class. Having interactive classes in Florence is one of my favorite things about studying with CAPA. It’s much better than being stuck in a classroom!


Thanks, Sarah!

Sarah Graham


Sarah Graham is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2019, sharing her story in frequent posts on CAPA World. An English major at University of Massachusetts Amherst, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester.

Sarah's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA Florence Program

Topics: International Education, Florence, Italy