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.
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.
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.
Spring Semester 2018 – Focus on International Business, Hospitality and Tourism
Spring semester courses take advantage of the robust international setting to examine a variety of critical business issues. Topics range from the importance of entrepreneurship in rebuilding local economies to the fundamentals of tourism and hospitality. As always, students are encouraged to integrate what they have learned in practical ways.
- Introduction to Entrepreneurship
- International Business & Management
- Principles of Tourism
- Topics: Italian Cuisine
- Topics: Travel in Tuscany
- Beacon-in-Tuscany Capstone Course/Integrative Learning
Fall Semester 2018 – Focus: Italiano
Fall semester courses leverage the rich cultural backdrop of Prato, Florence and other Italian cities to expose students to all things Italian, ranging from interpersonal relationships, traveling the nation, and Italy on the big screen. These new experiences are made especially relevant through guided exercises in writing and critical thinking.
- The Italian Family
- Mental Health History in Italy
- Writing for Environments
- A Cinematic View of Italy
- Travel in Tuscany
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 the Fall 2017 semester, 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
- Fiesole, 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
- Lucca, another medieval walled city on the site of an ancient Etruscan settlement and hosting architecturally significant Roman ruins