Beacon In Tuscany


Beacon in Tuscany presents a select cohort of Beacon students with an unforgettable opportunity to study in the cradle of the Renaissance. Our academic host is the Prato campus of the prestigious Università degli Studi di Firenze. Each semester’s coursework is organized around a central theme, with instruction provided by both Beacon faculty and local educators and experts. Students live and study in the heart of this medieval city, with regular trips to various historic and contemporary sites of interest.

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Prato 2020 InfographicGlobal education in beautiful Tuscany, Italy

Dates: September 14 – December 4, 2020
Destination: Prato, Italy

To apply: contact Dr. Shelly Chandler

Join us for a chance in a lifetime to further your global education!



Prato is the third largest city in Central Italy, after Rome and Florence. The Etruscans had a settlement there, the Romans used it for commerce, and the current town dates to the 10th century. Prato was a notable center for the textile industry from the middle ages through the industrial revolution. Historic Prato contains quite a few sites of interest:

  • The imposing 13th century Castello dell’Imperatore, built for Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Sicily and King of Jerusalem
  • A handful of palazzi, built for wealthy families beginning in the 13th century
  • Many significant churches, including the cathedral, which was started in the 10th century and added to over hundreds of years
  • Several museums, including one dedicated to the textile industry

Prato is just a 25 minute train ride from Florence, with ready connections to the entire Italian rail network.

Living Arrangements

Students are housed at the Hotel Giardino, a 19th-century hotel seated at the foot of Monte Retaia, facing the central Piazza del Duomo (cathedral square).

The included meal plan allows access to 25 restaurants in Prato.


Fall Semester 2020 – Focus: Art and Humanities

September through November 2020

  • Visual Journal
  • Creativity Seminar
  • Shakespeare’s Italian Soap Operas
  • Italian Fairy Tales: Cinderella’s Roots
  • Travel in Tuscany
Tuscany Fall 2020 Flyer

Extra-Curricular Activities

Students are invited to exercise their curiosity by exploring the shops and sights of Prato and by interacting with our local staff. In addition, organized weekend side trips facilitate a more immersive experience. During previous semesters, these included:

  • Villa Rucellai, a 16c country estate still occupied by descendants of the original family and hosting a working olive oil factory
  • Pistoia, a small medieval walled city known for its ancient ironworks and recognized as the 2017 Cultural Capital of Italy
  • Medici villas throughout Tuscany
  • Florence (several trips)
  • Viareggio, a seaside town
  • Beacon College Students at FiesoleFiesole, the town that figures in E.M. Forster’s, A Room with a View, site of an Etruscan settlement and training center for ancient Roman prognosticators
  • Venice
  • Rome
  • Lucca, another medieval walled city on the site of an ancient Etruscan settlement and hosting architecturally significant Roman ruins
  • Pisa
  • Siena