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UGA Cortona Excursions
A UGA Cortona student and Jewelry and Metals Instructor Suzanne Pugh consult a map while on excursion in Vatican City, Roma.

UGA Cortona’s programs make excursions to other Italian cities and towns primary components of their curricula. Cortona’s geographic location allows students and faculty to travel to many of the country’s cultural centers during the course of their time in Italy. In particular, UGA Cortona Art and Art History students fully experience Italian masterworks by viewing them on site, in the locations they were created for.

UGA Cortona staff members constantly update and modify excursion itineraries based on both the needs of particular programs and logistical changes for the places we visit (e.g. admission policies). Excursion schedules for each program therefore vary, and can be subject to revision; consult the description for your program to see which trips it includes.

Primary Excursions

Roma (Rome)

UGA Cortona Excursions
UGA Cortona students and faculty gather outside the Pantheon in Roma.

The Roman Empire originated there, and today “The Eternal City” is an international cultural nexus and the current political capital of Italy. All three Italy Studies Abroad Programs spend several days in Roma, and Maymester programs make trips of different lengths there. Click here to find out more about UGA Cortona excursions to Roma.

Firenze (Florence)

UGA Cortona Excursions
A view of Firenze from across the Arno.

As the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Firenze contains an unparalleled collection of beautiful masterworks: painting, sculpture, architecture, design, and literature. The Spring and Fall Italy Studies Abroad programs spend several days in Firenze; the Summer Italy Studies Abroad program travels there for a day trip. Maymester programs tour the city during visits of varying lengths. Click here to learn more about UGA Cortona excursions to Firenze.


UGA Cortona Excursions
All UGA Cortona Italy Studies Abroad programs visit the Duomo di Orvieto to see frescoes by Luca Signorelli.

Steep bluffs of volcanic rock surround the Umbrian town of Orvieto, and the town presents visitors with impressive hilltop views of the surrounding countryside. Its Duomo di Orvieto (Orvieto Cathedral) is a 14th century architectural masterwork, and houses Luca Signorelli’s famous Last Judgment cycle of frescoes. All Italy Studies Abroad Programs stop in Orvieto to visit the Duomo and explore the town; some Maymester programs visit there, as well.


UGA Cortona Excursions
A diminutive UGA ambassador surveys the Torre Mangia at the Piazza del Campo in Siena.

Siena is a Tuscan hill town famous for its semi-annual Palio horse race on its Piazza del Campo, and its colorful contrade (city districts). Its distinctive architecture speaks to its prosperous history as a trading stop on the pilgrim roads to Roma. All Italy Studies Abroad Programs make daylong trips to Siena, and some Maymester programs visit there, too. Click here to learn more about UGA Cortona excursions to Siena.

Other Excursions

Some UGA Cortona programs include visits to these cities:

Venezia (Venice)

UGA Cortona Excursions
A view of Venezia’s Grand Canal from the Ponte dell’Accademia.

Venezia, Italy’s legendary island city, dominated maritime trade in the Adriatic region from the 12th to the 15th centuries, becoming the most prosperous city in Europe. Its magnificent artistic and cultural treasures reflect this success. The Spring and Summer Italy Studies Abroad programs each spend several days in Venezia, where those programs both conclude. Venezia hosts the Biennale di Venezia, the world’s preeminent contemporary art exhibition, every other year; when the next Biennale occurs in 2019, UGA Cortona Summer and Fall Italy Studies Abroad programs will include trips to view it.

Napoli (Naples)

UGA Cortona Excursions
UGA Cortona Art History Professor Jennifer Griffiths and students tour the Parco Archeologico di Pompei.

Napoli, the third largest city in Italy, is known for its location at the base of Mount Vesuvius. This active volcano’s most infamous eruption buried the Roman city of Pompei, now accessible as an archaeological site. The Summer and Fall Italy Studies Abroad programs each visit sites in Napoli for several days, including Pompei, the Museo di Capodimonte, and the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli; the Summer program begins in Napoli, while the Fall program concludes there.


UGA Cortona Excursions
Our primary destination in Assisi: its magnificent Basilica Papale di San Francesco.

Assisi, another Umbrian hill town, is the birthplace of Saint Francis, and therefore home to the Basilica Papale di San Francesco (Basilica of Saint Francis).  A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Basilica interior features extensive cycles of narrative and decorative frescoes, including works by Cimabue, Simone Martini, and Pietro Lorenzetti. Italy Studies Abroad Spring and Fall Programs make daylong excursions to Assisi.


UGA Cortona Excursions
The Duomo di Pisa and its campanile, aka “The Leaning Tower.”

In the 11th century, the Tuscan city of Pisa was one of Italy’s greatest naval powers, in competition and conflict with Genoa and Venezia for control of trade in the Mediterranean. Its commercial and cultural exchange with the Byzantine Empire is reflected in the city’s distinctive architecture, most notably the four buildings in its Piazza dei Miracoli: the Battistero di San Giovanni (Baptistery), Camposanto Montumentale (Monumental Cemetery), Duomo di Pisa (Cathedral), and iconic campanile (bell tower). The UGA Cortona Italy Studies Abroad Spring Program makes a one–day excursion to Pisa.


UGA Cortona Excursions
UGA Cortona Students view The History of the True Cross fresco cycle in Arezzo.

Arezzo is the capital city of Tuscany, and located a short train or bus ride away from Cortona. Founded during the Etruscan period, it enjoyed a prosperous period as a medieval city–state, ultimately becoming part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Renaissance painter Piero della Francesca was a native of the city, and his fresco cycle The History of the True Cross is located in Arezzo’s Basilica di San Francesco. Summer and Fall Italy Studies Abroad Programs visit Arezzo; due to its proximity to Cortona, other programs often make optional day trips there, as well. 

San Gimignano

UGA Cortona Excursions
Students and faculty gather in San Gimignano’s Piazza della Cisterna.

Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, San Gimignano is famous for its towers; these architectural features were once common among medieval Tuscan towns, but San Gimignano’s are exceptionally well–preserved. Its Collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta (Collegiate Church of the Assumption of Mary) houses incredible fresco cycles by Taddeo di Bartolo, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Benozzo Gozzoli. The UGA Cortona Spring Italy Studies Abroad Programs visits San Gimignano. 


UGA Cortona Excursions
A UGA Cortona student and Painting Instructor Mark Taggart discuss Rosso Florentino’s Deposition.

Volterra is a walled town near San Gimignano whose founding dates back to the Bronze Age. The town’s architecture presents a survey of its history, including Etruscan ruins,  a Teatro Romano (Roman Imperial Theater),  the medieval Palazzo dei Priori (town hall), and a Medici Fortress. Its Pinacoteca (painting museum) features Rosso Fiorentino’s The Deposition, as well as works by Domenico Ghirlandaio, Luca Signorelli, and others. The UGA Cortona Spring Italy Studies Abroad Programs makes a trip to Volterra.


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