School of Athen by Raphael

Italy Programme - Discover the Renaissance

Tentative Dates for the Italy portion of the program: May 15 to June 15, 2024 [exact dates will be confirmed later]

The Italy Program provides a stimulating interdisciplinary exploration of one of the most dynamic and significant periods in the history of European culture. The setting - the city of Florence - is perfect because of its immense contribution to the Renaissance, the 14th-16th century reawakening of humanistic learning and artistic endeavour.

The Program may be taken for credit or on an audit basis. It covers art, architecture, literature, science and philosophy, through the works of such figures as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Giotto, Donatello, Filippo Brunelleschi, Artemisia Gentileschi, Galileo, Clare of Assisi, Catherine of Siena, Dante, Boccaccio, and Machiavelli. Participants attend lectures, concerts and visits to museums, galleries and other artistic sites, in Florence and elsewhere, and meet in small seminars to discuss the writings of the period.

No previous experience is necessary for full participation. For most participants, activities will begin in Nanaimo or Toronto during late April/early May. Please see videos of the experience of the Program through a student's eyes.

Through a unique partnership, Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) students can enrol in VIU's Liberal Studies Abroad program and transfer the completed course credits back to their home program. View a video on the TMU/VIU partnership from the students' perspective.

Important Warning: A level of physical and medical fitness is required to participate in the program. Many of the sites visited are accessible only on foot (and are not wheelchair-accessible), and the visits require lengthy periods of walking and standing. Accommodation may be several floors up, with no elevator, and luggage may have to be carried considerable distances and up and down stairs. If you have any limitations or concerns in this area, please consult program personnel before applying.

 Overview of Courses

Michelangelo, Dawn

The content of the three-course package (which may be taken at either the second- or third-year level) ranges over the art, architecture, literature, science and philosophy of the Italian Renaissance. Instruction is primarily seminar-based, with lectures and presentations included. In Florence, classes take up about three or four hours per day, five days per week. Many of them take place on-site at a church or museum, and there are a number of additional visits to museums, galleries and other artistic and cultural sites. There are also tours to Assisi, Siena, and Padua/Venice. The Venice tour is a multi-day trip; all in-Italy Program trips, tours, and hotels are included in the Program fee (see below). Students must take all three courses, but may choose homany to take for credit and how many on an audit basis: see "How Does Liberal Studies Abroad Work?" for details of different classes of participation. Audit students are encouraged (but not required) to attend tours, lectures, and seminars.

Inclusive Packages

Program costs include all program travel within Italy, accommodation, tourist guides, books and other educational materials, as well as classroom space, and admissions to all cultural sites and events. Participants must arrange their own air travel to Florence. Emergency medical insurance must be purchased through a mandated carrier prior to departure. Food is not included, but accommodation is in apartments which have kitchens, so that food costs are minimal.

Approximate Program Cost (for Credit and Audit Students)

  • Tuition and Program costs for Canadian students for the Spring 2024 trip are approximately $4800 CND. International students studying at VIU should contact the LBST Abroad coordinator to discuss the cost of the program.
  • This amount does not include the price of mandatory health insurance with GuardMe, nor your purchase of a data plan so we can communicate with one another.
  • Toronto Metropolitan University students must also pay an application fee to VIU of approximately $43 and a fee about $40 to TMU for a Letter of Permission to be a visiting student.
  • Tuition and Program costs cover basic accommodation in multiple occupancy apartments (3-6 people), with living room, kitchen and bathroom(s); share a bedroom with one other person: included in program cost.
    • Single Room in Shared Apartment (if available!): add approximately $800 supplement.

Financial Assistance: The length of the program and its number of credits mean that students may be eligible for student loans while taking it. In addition, they may apply for the International Education Stipend and a number of different scholarships, from VIU and elsewhere. See VIU Education Abroad Finances.

Students on the Duomo

Apply for 2024 (deadline is November 22, 2023):

Please apply by completing the following two forms and sending them, along with your latest unofficial university transcript, to Dr. Mark Blackell at These application forms are for all students (VIU and TMU):



Toronto Metropolitan University Students ONLY:

TMU students must first become "visiting students" at VIU in order to register for the Liberal Studies Abroad VIU courses for which they will get TMU transfer credit. TMU students, therefore, and TMU students ONLY (not current VIU students), please read the following sets of instructions before completing the application process: 

Applying to the Italy 2024 program (for TMU students ONLY)

Applying for the Letter of Permission (for TMU students ONLY)

Further Information

Please watch this informational video on the 2024 Program.

See this PDF of the slides from the above presentation: poerpoint-for-florence-info-session-2024.pdf

For further information, please contact Mark Blackell, the 2024 Liberal Studies Abroad Coordinator, at