In-person registration is going on now.

Interested students should contact Mariella Poli ( right away to start the approval process for registration.

Information Session
Wednesday, April 2, 3:15-3:45 p.m.
San Francisco campus, GC6

Rich in history and culture and with a singular place in the development of Western art, Italy offers unique perspectives to all students of the arts and design.

Once divided into small warring principalities, the Italian Peninsula still retains regional differences in art, architecture, dialect, and cuisine.

Today Italy faces political questions that reflect the pressures of modern globalization.

This course examines the art, culture, and everyday life in Italy, while providing students an opportunity to work in the medium of their choice. It also traces Italian art and culture from the Renaissance to present day.

View student projects from Summer 2012 »

ITALY: Arts & Contemporary Culture

Instructor: Mariella Poli
SF campus: April 19, 2014
Italy: June 8-23, 2014
SF campus: August 23, 2014

Florence / Monastery Sant'Anna In Camprena & Pienza in Tuscany / Venice

Masters of Renaissance and Renaissance Humanism in Florence

The course begins with three days in Florence, where students, accompanied by a local art historian, view the masters of the Renaissance with a background of Renaissance Humanism (Masaccio, Masolino, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Botticelli, Brunelleschi, and others).

Students visit museums such as the Uffizi, San Marco, Accademia Gallery, Santa Maria Novella, Brancacci Chapel, and Foundling Hospital & Laurential Library.

Studio Practice in the Renaissance Town of Pienza

Participants spend the next eight days in the Tuscan countryside. Accommodations and studio are in a restored 15th century former monastery, Sant' Anna in Camprena in Val D' Orcia.

The monastery houses a cycle of frescos from 1503 by Sodoma and was the site for film director Anthony Minghella’s, The English Patient.

Pienza was rebuilt from a village called Corsignano, the birthplace of Aeneas S. Piccolomini, a Renaissance humanist who later became Pope Pius II. As Pope, Piccolomini had the entire village rebuilt by architect Rossellino as an Ideal Renaissance town.

It represents the first application of humanist urban planning concepts that were later adopted in other Italian towns and cities and eventually spread to other European centers.

Presently there are many schools of architecture and scholars from all over the world that visit Pienza to study its “Ideal Renaissance” architecture.

In Pienza, students collaborate on a project that explores everyday life, geopolitics, culture, and the historical and contemporary architecture of the city.

Students work with local residents investigating place and contemporary life. The culmination of the project is a public projection in the town square with the enthusiastic township and mayor in attendance -- followed by an exhibition at CCA’s San Francisco campus in the fall.

Contemporary Art in Venice

Students spend the final five days in Venice viewing part of the renowned Francois Pinault Contemporary Art Collection at Punta della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi, designed by Tadeo Ando.

They also visit the Emilio Vedova Foundation, Magazzini Del Sale (restored by Renzo Piano), Peggy Guggenheim Museum Collection; and others.

Students receive a reader that pertains to museums and historical sites, to which they must respond before they arrive in Italy.

Students are also required to participate in a CCA fall exhibition (two Sundays and a Wednesday night reception -- to be announced).


 Such a beautiful trip, every part of it was amazing.

Everything was a field trip! It was stunning.

About the Instructor

Currently residing in San Francisco, Mariella Poli was born in Italy and has exhibited there (as well as internationally) extensively, in such venues as the MART, Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea  di Trento e Rovereto, in Rovereto; Ca’ Foscari and Studio Barberi Arte Contemporanea in Venice; and Studio La Citta' Gallery in Verona.

Before coming to CCA, she taught at the Studio Art Center International in Florence. Her publications in Italy include: Mart: Nascita  di un Museo (Mondadori Electa), Montecatini (Skira'), Savoy Hotel (Antiga Edizioni), No People No Joey (Edizione Osiride).

With her intimate knowledge of Italy, Poli designed a study-abroad course to Italy in 1996 and has been leading classes there every summer since.

She retains her connections to Italy through collaborative courses with the Academia Belle Arti in Bologna and Università IUAV in Venice.

Learn more about Mariella Poli »


Undergraduates: Completion of at least sophomore level by summer 2014 and instructor approval
Graduates: Instructor approval

In addition, all students must be in good academic, conduct, and financial standing for the 2013–14 academic year.

Course Satisfies

For undergraduates this course satisfies a Studio Elective; an Upper Division Interdisciplinary Studio; or, with prior instructor arrangement, 3 credits of Visual Studies Seminar or a 200- or 300-level Visual Studies Elective.

For graduates this course satisfies a gradwide elective.

Program Fee

$4,850 + $50 registration fee

Included in program fee:
3 units, housing, studio, breakfast, dinner while staying at Sant' Anna in Camprena, art historian lectures, museum entrance fees, local transportation, field trips, and travel/health insurance

Not included in program fee:
Airfare to and from Italy, class reader, lunch, dinner while in Florence and Venice

Please make sure you read the related links in full:

In-person registration is going on now for all summer study abroad courses. Students may still register as long as spots are available in the class and accommodations have not been finalized.

All CCA summer study-abroad courses (including the New York Studio and Marfa Fieldwork Project) are coordinated by the Office of Special Programs.


Office of Special Programs
Oakland campus, Ralls 201

Nina Sadek
Dean of Special Programs

Carol Pitts
Operations Manager, Special Programs