Life in Florence | Kent State University

Kent State Florence is a comprehensive academic and cultural program. In addition to completing a full course load, students have many opportunities to get acquainted with Florence and Italy. Open to all students and included in the program fee are these Activities introducing Italian life and culture:

  • A Night at the Opera: Enjoy a celebrated opera by one of the great Italian composers performed in beautiful St. Mark’s Church.
  • Kent State Cinema: Great Italian films shown with English subtitles, including classics like Fellini’s 8 1/2 and Rossellini’s Open CIty.
  • River Rafting: Admire the architectural beauty of Florence from a new perspective: a relaxing rafting trip down the Arno.
  • Volunteer: Through Caritas Diocesana Firenze, you can befriend neighborhood nonni, and keep Florence clean with Angeli del Bello.
  • Soccer Match: Join 40,000 Italians in going wild over their national sport as you wear purple and cheer on the Fiorentina.
  • Italian Cooking Class: Prepare classic Italian dishes under the guidance of trained chefs, and then enjoy every delicious bite!
  • Ferragamo & Gucci Museums: Florence and fashion are inseparable. Bask in the work of two geniuses of 20th-century Italian style.
  • Museum Pass: Semester-long access to Florence’s most extraordinary art and sculpture galleries, churches, museums and villas.

Student Experiences

History of Palazzo dei Cerchi

The Cerchi family was a Florentine family that reached the height of its power in the 13th century.  The Cerchis were a powerful clan of white Guelphs who become very wealthy from their commercial and banking activities.  The building, called the Palazzo de Cerchi, was built in the 1200’s as part of a complex of other buildings that the family owned.   It is located in the center of Florence at the corner of Via della Condotta and Vicolo dei Cerchi, next to the famous Piazza della Signoria.  In 1293 the Gonfaloniere and the Priori (the city executive powers) take residence in the Cerchi demonstrating the importance of the Cerchi family and their establishment.

During the 14th and 15th centuries the Cerchi family’s power and wealth dwindles, obscuring the history and significance of the palace.  The Palazzo dei Cerchi becomes a studio space for Renaissance painters.  In 1546 Cosimo I de’ Medici establishes the ducal printing house in the Cerchi.  It remains a printing house until the end of the 19th century.  At the end of the 19th century, the Cerchi becomes privately owned once again.

In 2003 Kent State University acquires the facility, and in January of 2004, the renovations undertaken by Kent State are completed.  The interior renovation included structural reinforcements, technical repairs, and artistic restoration.  The restoration carefully preserved the original structure and created an efficient space for academic purposes.  The exterior of the building still evokes 13th century Florence, while the interior houses state of the art classrooms.

Today, the Cerchi receives around 100 Kent State students each term.

History of Palazzo Bartolini Baldelli

In the 14th century the Peruzzi family builds the Palazzo Bartolini Baldelli.   The Peruzzi’s were merchants and bankers of one of the largest banking systems in Europe and held considerable power in the early 1300’s. It is located on the corner between Via dei Benci and piazza Santa Croce.  The front ground entrance faces the shops of the Piazza Santa Croce.

In the 1950’s and 1970’s renovation was done on the Palazzo.

In 2011 Kent State acquired the Palazzo Bartolini Baldelli to accommodate the growing numbers of Kent Staters studying abroad.