Summer Sessions

Three summer participants pose on the Villa's veranda.

Experience Villa Le Balze, Georgetown’s “other Hilltop”, like never before.  Villa Le Balze Summer Sessions offer unprecedented flexibility to customize the timing, duration, and academic intensity of your study abroad experience in Florence.  

  • Study for one 4 week session, or stay for a full 8 week cross-session. 
  • Choose from a menu of courses tailored to the study abroad experience and taught by Georgetown’s own Main Campus faculty, earning anywhere from 4 to 13 credits while abroad.
  • Live downtown in a thriving, student-centered community, while also becoming part of Villa Le Balze’s singular tradition of undergraduate living and learning. 
  • Participate in regular academic and cohort-building programming, designed to connect you with your peers and to the surrounding historical and cultural context of Florence. 

Regardless of what path you choose, VLB Summer Sessions will offer you a unique and unparalleled global education experience, steeped in the longstanding history and tradition of Georgetown in Florence.

More information on Summer Sessions at Villa Le Balze can be found on the program brochure (new window)

Summer 2024 Courses

Since Maria Montessori first developed her teaching methods for disadvantaged and disabled children in Italy in the early 20th Century, Italy has promoted inclusive participatory early childhood education. In this program, you will compare and contrast early education models across the globe, beginning with two popular Italian models, Montessori and Reggio Emilia. Other early childhood education models such as the Step-by-Step model, used throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and the Scandinavian models will be examined providing a comprehensive analysis. Through site visits, lecture, discussion, and participation in a UNESCO co-sponsored one-day symposium, students will develop a uniquely crafted, global understanding of the early education of disabled children.

Georgetown students receive 3 GU undergraduate credits for the following course: DBST/EDIJ 350 Educating Young Children with Disabilities- A Global Comparison. Students enrolled in the Disability Studies minor or the Education, Inquiry, and Justice minor may use this course to meet minor requirements.

This course surveys the representation of Italian Americans in films and TV series from the
silent era to the present. During the first half of the semester students will be exploring the use
of stereotypes and film genres commonly used to depict Italian Americans, During the second
half of the semester, students will focus on the Italian American experience at large, analyzing
films that deal with a wide variety of topics (from domesticity, family, and food to emigration).

This course will help students reflect upon the concept of Italian Americanness, and question
the very existence of Italian American cinema. Indeed, during the semester, students will
appreciate how Italian Americans progressively moved from being represented by others, to
finally acquiring their own authorial voice. Nonetheless, this voice will be problematized, along
with the ever-recurrence of stereotypes and labels that continue to plague the Italian American
identity and community.

This course fulfills the Humanities: Arts, Literatures, and Cultures (HALC) requirement.

With the constant blare of a 24/7 news cycle and endless pings from Instagram, Twitter and various app alerts, it is easy to become desensitized to the news, and yet it has become increasingly important to adopt a broader global perspective to discern what’s real, what’s right, and what’s truthful. Join us this summer where you will be in the role of the reporter, learning how to quickly navigate unknown places, people and points of view.

You will hear from global correspondents, interact with local Italians, and simulate the real-world experience of a foreign correspondent writing for a major news organization. You will also get to research, write, and compose articles in various different media formats, such as print, podcast, and vlogs; all culminating in a portfolio of work.

Following Machiavelli’s concept of a “discussion with the ancients” with relevance to modern issues, highlights of this 3 credit seminar include:

  • In-depth study of Machiavelli’s writings and an appreciation of the Florentine environment in which he wrote them;
  • Actively applying Machiavellian teachings through student involvement as decision makers in a “balance of power” laboratory created by two “Nth Power” political-military simulations. The “Nth Power” simulation is an interactive role-playing, geo-spatial simulation that has been used to brief strategic planners in the Department of Defense.

Upon successful completion of the program, students will receive credit for a 3-credit Government seminar (GOVT-486-62) that can count toward their major, minor or general education elective requirements.

Hear from the professors firsthand in this short video: Georgetown University: Florence Machiavelli Seminar

Both wine and cheese production depend on harnessing the biochemical potential of a variety of different microorganisms. This course will be a rigorous exploration into the characteristics of microbes important for the development of these foods, with an emphasis on the biochemical pathways necessary for the production of ethanol and other products that are responsible for the unique flavors and textures associated with these foods. Part of the course will involve hands-on activities comparing genes for these processes among different organisms; using tools of bioinformatics, a relatively new field that combines biology, computer science, and statistics.

This course can fulfill the Science for All core requirement.

Democracy takes many forms today, and has taken even more in history. Students will learn to appreciate these forms, and therefore better understand democracy in the United States. In addition to surveying the various ways in which democratic institutions are structured, we will take a closer look at and evaluate how democratic has governance been in various systems, including Italy and other contemporary European democracies, the European Union, the United States, the Roman Catholic Church, the Florentine Republic, the Roman Republic, Ancient Greek Democracy and others.

This class presents both micro and macro histories of plague. On the one hand, you will learn about and visit multiple plague sites in northern Italy, private and public spaces (like hospitals, foundling homes, churches) constructed to help contemporaries cope with the disease and medieval and early modern art that conveys the magnitude of the mortality Italians witnessed firsthand. Florence and Siena in particular are used as an ‘open book’ on the pre-modern plague experience. On the other hand, the Black Death is presented not as an Italian or European disaster but as an Afro-Eurasian catastrophe. You will be introduced to plausible evidence of the demographic ruin from regions as disparate as East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Greenland.

This course is thus deeply multidisciplinary. It is at once a history, biology and art history class. You will be introduced to the written and architectural sources for plague as well as to the evolutionary biology of Yersinia pestis, the bioarchaeology and detection of pre-laboratory disease, and the methods of the paleopathologic and paleogenetic sciences. In other words, they come face-to-face with the urban fabric of pre-modern public health, the written record of mass death, and the bones of medieval plague victims.

This class is premised on the orthodox and Catholic belief that “Beauty is the first name for
God.” We will trace the historical discourse on theological aesthetics in the Christian
tradition—from Augustine and Aquinas, to 20th century thinkers like Jacques Maritain and Urs
von Balthasar. The questions of this course circle around the following: How do we assess
what is beautiful? How has Christianity shaped the way we think about beauty? How is beauty
related to those other transcendental qualities of life—the Good and the True?

Designed as an interdisciplinary course that links theology with culture and its various
productions, we will discuss works of western art—literature, music, architecture, sculpture and
painting. We will use the city of Florence as our classroom, visiting
churches and museums to engage the art that has helped shape a western, Christian aesthetics
of the beautiful.

This course fulfills the intermediate-level theology elective core requirement.

This course is an introduction to some of the most famous and powerful women of the house
of the Medici (1368-1743), who through their agency, contributed to the building of the
Tuscan State. Particular emphasis will be given to their biographies and the unique role that
these women played in Florentine, Italian and European history. Students will learn about the lesser-known ways that women played important roles in medieval Italian history, engaging in site-specific experiential learning, within the specific cultural context of contemporary Italian/Tuscan culture. Students will study and come to understand the “strategies of power” by which women were able to operate and wield power, in a context of legal disfranchisement.

This course will also provide an overview of the family as a social institution where
individuals, both women and men, were legally subordinated in different ways to patriarchal
authority, and their social behavior was strictly controlled by their social environment. It will
also highlight the legal, economic, and intellectual framework which was considered the ‘rule’
for women, to understand the changes that Medici women brought in achieving their goals.

Academics and Eligibility


Most summer programs at the Villa are taught in English, although there are opportunities to engage with the Italian language on a daily basis. All courses offered on Villa summer programs are Georgetown courses, and students will receive credits and grades that will transfer automatically to their GU transcript and GPA. Additionally, courses offered at the Villa may fulfill major, minor and certificate, or other degree requirements, with appropriate approval from a student’s Dean or academic advisor.

Non-Georgetown participants are issued a GU transcript with grades and a semester GPA.


Summer programs require applicants to be in good academic standing, unless a specific minimum GPA requirement is noted on the program’s brochure page. Students with less than a 2.5 GPA are encouraged to strengthen their application by submitting an Eligibility Addendum Form (EAF). Students must maintain a strong, consistent academic record and meet the academic standards set forth by the University. Students are not eligible to participate in a study abroad program while on active academic probation. Additional program requirements, including specific language requirements or other coursework, may also be noted on individual program brochure pages.

Applicants are expected to be in good disciplinary standing at Georgetown University or their home university. Students are not eligible to participate in a study abroad program while on active disciplinary probation.


Arielle Kasey DaCosta Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship was created by the family of Georgetown student Arielle Kasey DaCosta C’11, an alumna of Villa Le Balze who passed away in 2009.  The scholarship supports undergraduate students with financial need who are studying at the Villa during the summer term.  Priority is given to students majoring in the arts or humanities, or studying these subjects at Villa Le Balze. Students who meet these criteria will be automatically considered for the scholarship; no application is necessary. Awards may vary on a yearly basis, up to $5,000.  OGE identifies recipients in coordination with the Office of Student Financial Services.

OGE Summer Scholarships

Each spring, the Office of Global Education awards a few, small fellowships to participants on summer study abroad programs. These awards range from $500 to $2,000 and are made according to need and merit. Undergraduate students who are currently receiving financial aid are immediately considered for these awards.

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program

Students receiving Pell Grants during the regular academic year may be eligible for additional Pell Grant support for summer study abroad. Please contact the Office of Student Financial Services for more information. Pell Grant recipients are also eligible for Gilman Scholarships for summer study abroad. Gilman Scholarships are open to students of all majors who receive Pell Grants and planned to study overseas for at least three weeks in the same country. Students should check the program website for more information.