Florence, the city that gave birth to the Renaissance, was home to Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, and the Medici family. One of the world's greatest centers of artistic, literary, and historical treasures and traditions, Florence is filled with buildings that are themselves works of art, filled with art treasures. Thus, this former republic and once-capital of Italy provides an ideal study location for students interested in art, history, music and literature. Located at viale Milton 41, the Pepperdine facility is within walking distance of Florence’s historic center’s many museums, cathedrals, and architectural treasures, and the city’s main railway station, Santa Maria Novella. The surrounding buildings are primarily residential, although a lively shopping area is located only a block away. While Florence is located almost at the center of the Italian peninsula, France, Switzerland, Austria, and all of central Europe are but hours away.
Approximately 41 students live in Pepperdine University's Villa Tagliaferri during the academic year. This historic, University-owned facility in Florence is within walking distance of the city's world-famous museums and historical sites. As a facility, the Villa Di Loreto and Residenza Tagliaferri houses 54 students, the Visiting Faculty family, classrooms, a library, computer laboratory, student center, laundry facilities, and offices for the program. Florence's main railway station is within walking distance of the villa.
The first Pepperdine International Programs in Florence were operated in temporary locations during the summers of 1985 and 1986. In 1987, the program moved to a rented Villa la Macine in the suburb of Il Pogetto. Although students enjoyed the beautiful grounds that surrounded the Villa, part of the building itself was nearly 500 years old and many of the things that most Americans take for granted - like ample hot water for showers - were hard to come by. Parts of the facility were in poor repair and, being a rented facility, it was difficult to keep everything in accordance with Pepperdine standards. To go into the center of Florence, students either had to pay approximately $10 for a taxi or had to walk nearly a quarter of a mile to catch a bus.
In 1995 the University purchased two adjacent properties which had the same owner. These are now known as the Villa Di Loreto, which contains the classrooms, library, offices and the apartment for the Visiting Faculty member, and the Residenza Tagliaferri, which contains the dining room, student center and student rooms. The Villa Di Loreto was built in the late nineteenth century by a Russian emigre, the Countess Platoff, and its stained glass windows and other architectural features were brought from Russia. When Pepperdine purchased the property, the owner and his family occupied the main and upper floor, and he operated a small factory that made a line of designer shoes for women in the basement. The Residenza Tagliaferri was operated as the three-star Hotel Astor until April of 1995.
Most meals are provided and are prepared in the facility's commercial kitchen by an Italian chef and served in the former hotel's dining room Sunday evening through Thursday evening. Meals while traveling on weekends will be the responsibility of the student.
Some locations students have visited in the past include Naples, Greece, Sicily, Turkey and Ireland. In the Fall of 2009, the Florence program visited Sicily, and will visit Turkey in the Spring of 2010. Though Educational Field Trips have not been officially determined for the 2010-2011 academic year, Israel has been proposed for one of the locations for Florence students.
One of the most unique programs Florence offers for its student is the Adoptive Family program. In this program, students are given the opportunity to be "adopted" for the year by a local Italian family. This provides students a chance to engage with the Italian culture while experiencing a family away from home. Many adoptive families take their student out for meals, sports games, or other family activities on a weekly basis. This is a unique opportunity to truly be immersed in Italian culture, but it does require a time commitment throughout the semester. Students in past years have also created their own local soccer team, competing with other teams in the local league.