Benedictine University in Florence

The Experience

Florence is a bustling city full of rich history in every little nook and cranny.  Yet, at the same time it is paving the way for the future as well in fashion, art, music, food, business, technology, science, architecture and so much more.  Check out our CAPA Florence Blog and Instagram below to see what CAPA students have to say.

Latest Posts from Florence

  • 4 Benefits of Studying Abroad in Florence During the Holiday Season
    While the spending the holiday season abroad can bring about some homesickness, it also give you the chance to experience another culture during a special time of year.  CAPA blogger Payton is making the most of spending the holiday season in Florence, Italy. Read more as read more
  • Q&A with CAPA Florence alum CeDrice Howard
    In this post, CAPA Alumna CeDrice answers 10 questions about her experience studying abroad in Florence and her time so far as a CAPA Ambassador! CAPA World: Tell us a bit about yourself. Where did you study abroad and from which home institution? What is your read more
  • An Interview with My Ganzo! Family
    What better way to learn about Florence than by turning to the locals? In this week's post, Payton interviews Giacomo, Sabrina, and Bianca from her Ganzo! family in Florence and gets their perspective on Florentine culture, food, things to do in the city, and cultural insights. read more

Latest Posts on Instagram

Multicultural Florence

“Multiculturalism is the co-existence of diverse cultures, where culture includes racial, religious, or cultural groups and is manifested in customary behaviours, cultural assumptions and values, patterns of thinking, and communicative styles.”

Source: The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions November 2013

A Bit of History of Florence and Tuscany

From the 8th Century BC, until 59 BCE, the area now known as Tuscany was inhabited by the Etruscans, a pre-Roman civilization that ruled much of northern Italy. In 59 B.C.E Julius Caesar established a colony of Romans along the banks of the Arno River, at the site of today’s Ponte Vecchio (Vecchio Bridge). His intentions were for it to serve as a settlement for veteran soldiers. By the 3rd century CE, Florence was an important trade center in Europe due to its position on the Via Cassia and reputation for moneylending and textile merchants. Towards the end of the 5th Century C.E., the Roman Empire fell, and Florence’s status fell with it.

In the 8th Century CE, Florence came into the Margraviate of Tuscany, under the greater rule of Charlemagne. When the Margrave of Tuscany chose Florence as his residence in the 11th Century CE, Florence began to flourish artistically and architecturally. The city endured bloody conflicts over power during the next few centuries with changes in leadership, the Black Death, and the French Invasion.

In the beginning of the 1400s, the Medici family, a name synonamyous with Florence, rose to power under the guise of Cosmo D’Medici – a successful banker. The Medici family, particularly Lorenzo D’Medici, laid the groundwork for Florence to become the birthplace of Italian Renaissance. He was involved in commissioning works from Botticelli, da Vinci, and Michelangelo. Today, Florence remains an ideal study of the influence of the Renaissance – with its frescos, Brunelleschi’s dome, and incomparable artistic collections.

It was not until the 19th century that Florence was back on the map as a thriving commercial city (tourism, trade, financial services, and industry, etc.) thanks to its own gold currency which became the dominant trade coin in Western Europe securing Florence economically.  On March 17, 1861 King Vittorio Emanuele II formed the Kingdom of Italy and unified all the regions of Italy in 1870.

Do you know the phrase “history always repeats itself”? Well, take a look at what these artists are trying to do to prevent just that.

Interesting Statistics

Florence Population Statistics from 2006

  • 45% of the population identified as Italian
  • 52% of the population immigrated from other European countries (the majority from Albania and Romania)
  • 17% of the population came from East Asia (Han Chinese and Filipino)
  • 41% of the population came from the Americas
  • 9% of the population came from Northern Africa (mostly Morocco)

Source (all above statistics): The New World Encyclopedia

Statistics from 2014

  • Population of Florence was 381,037 (
  • 4,922,085 was the number of foreign residents in Italy (Italy in Figures 2014)
  • Language spoken in Italy: Italian, German, French, and Slovene

Flags Italy

  • Religions in Italy: Christian 80% (majority is Roman Catholic with small groups of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Protestants), Muslims (approx. 800,000 to 1 million), 20% atheist and agnostic
  • Ethnic Groups: Italian (small clusters of German-Italian, French-Italian, Slovene-Italian, Albanian-Italian, and Greek-Italian)
  • 270,000 students in Italy choose to study abroad with an Erasmus scholarship and 26,000 of them were Italian (Italy in Figure 2014)

Source (majority of above statistics): CIA World Factbook

Reflect: In your home culture is it common to identify as two ethnicities?  For example, Italian-American or Irish-American.  If so, why do you think that is?

Check out these fascinating graphs and PDF from Italy in Figures 2014:

Italy Graphs

Italy more graphs

Italy more graphs 2

Reflect:  How do you think the percentages would change for technological goods owned by households in your home country?

If you are enjoying all the statistics then here is a fun video by Datacube with a few more.

Oh the Food

“Pizza and pasta may be the ubiquitous face of Italian cuisine, but the country’s culinary history is much more diverse, and is reflected in the great variety of its regional cuisines.”

Through immigration and trade food traditions and recipes are spread throughout the globe.  The article History of Food in Italy by USA Today talks about where the different foods within Italy originate from.

Reflect: What is the ‘national dish’ of your home culture and where did it come from?

People From Around the World in Italy

Hundreds of millions of people immigrate around the world every year.  It is not uncommon for economic stability, terrorism, social prejudices, and politics to affect views and protocols pertaining to immigration.  Raice, Italy is known as a ghost town in the south that welcomes immigrants.  The mayor of Raice is leading a program designed to help repopulate the town through providing aid to newly arrived immigrants.

In Milan statistics demonstrate how immigrants are contributing to the development of economy. One woman describes it as hope.

When you think of Italian cheese do you ever stop to think about who makes it? In the northern Italian country side there is a community of Sikhs that work in the agricultural industry.  In the following video various members of this community discuss their experiences of settling in a new country.  They touch upon topics such as identity transformation, religion, work ethic, and cultural differences.

Reflect: Who makes the food your home country is most famous for? How do you think you identity will be challenged or transformed during your time abroad?

Go Beyond

Ready to learn more?!

At CAPA we appreciate the diverse backgrounds and interests of our students! We have compiled a list of resources to help you feel more at home in your new city. Included you’ll find information regarding major news sources and things to do in Florence. You’ll also find resources for students going abroad as an LGBTQ student, students with a disability, students who have dietary restrictions, and students who are wondering how their racial and ethnic identity may be impacted in their new city.

This is only a brief introduction to your city and all it has to offer so please reach out to your program manager with any specific questions or concerns. At CAPA we pride ourselves on our ability to meet individual student needs and go above and beyond to ensure we offer the best student experience abroad possible!

Major news sources
Location Specific “Things to Do”
Religious Services
LGBTQ Community Resources
Community Resources on Race and Ethnicity
Disabilities Abroad
Food Resources: Dietary restrictions

Major news sources

Location specific “Things to Do”

Religious Services and Resources

LGBTQ Community Resources

Community Resources on Race and Ethnicity

Disabilities Abroad

Food resources: Dietary restrictions

Have Questions?

Annie Newberry

Program Manager or 800.793.0334

Bonnie Beezhold

University Contact or 630.829.6528


Ready to Take the Next Step?

Request Info