2017 Adventure: Renaissance Italy

Location:  Florence, with day-trips to other cities.
News Release
Adventure Dates (confirmed):  May 13 - June 4, 2017 (leave Canada May 12).
Group Leader:  Prof. John Black, Liberal Studies and Philosophy. 

News Flash: our Italy 2017 Adventure is now over, but you can get an idea of the nature of future Adventures by reading about it. 

This Adventure provides a stimulating interdisciplinary exploration of one of the most dynamic and significant periods in the history of European culture. The setting is perfect because of the immense contribution of Florence to the Renaissance, the 14th-16th century blossoming of humanistic learning and artistic endeavour.

Our Adventure will cover art, architecture and literature through the works of such figures as Dante, Giotto, Donatello, Brunelleschi, Masaccio, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Gentileschi. Activities include lecture/presentations, seminar discussions and visits to museums, galleries and other sites, in Florence and elsewhere. Optional preparatory sessions will be available in Nanaimo in early May.

Group Leaders

Dr. John Black has taught in and co-ordinated the Liberal Studies Abroad credit program since its inception in 1997. He has Master's degrees from Cambridge and Simon Fraser, and a PhD from UBC, all in Philosophy. A devotee of mediaeval and Renaissance music, he has travelled extensively in Europe, and has led many study groups to Italy, England and the Czech Republic. He values Florence in particular because of the opportunity it gives him to encounter his favourite painters Giotto and Masaccio, and favourite sculptor Donatello.

Connie Kovalenka is a graduate of the Liberal Studies program at VIU, and herself studied the Renaissance in Florence in 1997. An artist in her own right, she has a special interest in Florentine visual art, modern as well as Renaissance, and is very knowledgeable about the geography of the city, its markets, and its antiques and junk shops.

Tentative Itinerary

Day 0     Leave Canada
Day 1     Arrive Florence; settle into accommodation
Day 2     Walk in the Historic Centre and Lunch
Day 3     Orientation; Architecture Lecture; Walk to Palazzo Vecchio
Day 4     Church of San Miniato al Monte; Piazzale Michelangelo; Rose Garden
Day 5     Baptistery; Cathedral Museum; (optional: Cathedral)
Day 6     Mercato Centrale; Church of San Lorenzo; Medici Chapels
Day 7     Villa Petraia
Day 8     Free Day
Day 9     Free Day
Day 10   Church of Orsanmichele; Sculpture Lecture; Walk to Arcetri (optional)
Day 11   Bargello Museum; Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens
Day 12   Painting Lecture; Church of Santi Apostoli; Uffizi Gallery
Day 13   Church of Santa Maria Novella; Torrigiani Garden
Day 14   Train to Padua: Baptistery and Scrovegni Chapel
Day 15   Free Day in Venice
Day 16   Return to Florence; Free Day
Day 17   Monastery of San Marco; Botanical Gardens/Walk to Fiesole (option)
Day 18   Church of Santa Croce; Poetry Lecture
Day 19   Brancacci Chapel; Studio of Bettina Schindler, Ivory Restorer
Day 20   Day Trip: San Gimignano 
Day 21   Day Trip; Final Dinner
Day 22   Free Day
Day 23   Leave Florence

Inclusive Packages

Package costs include tuition fees, accommodation, all program-related travel within Italy, cellphone rental, tourist guides, educational materials, and admissions to cultural sites and events. Participants must arrange their own air travel to Florence and have adequate travel insurance, including medical. Food is not included, but accommodation is in apartments which have kitchens, so that food costs are minimal.

Adventures in Mind is a not-for-profit initiative of Vancouver Island University: all effort is made to keep costs as low as possible. Payments are refundable only in case of cancellation by VIU.

Program Fee:     $4,495

Shared Accommodation (Apartment for 3-4 people, with living room, kitchen and bathroom(s); share a bedroom with one other person): included in program fee.
Single Room in Shared Apartment: add $500
Private One-Bedroom Apartment (for two): add $500 each
Private One-Bedroom Apartment (for one): add $1,000 

Payment Schedule

In order to allow us to make a firm decision to proceed with the Adventure, which depends upon enrolment, and to make bookings for accommodations etc., it is essential that we are able to cover our overheads well in advance of leaving Canada. The following payment schedule is therefore necessary:

  1. On submission of Application for Admission: application fee
  2. Within two weeks of notification of admission: commitment fee of $500
  3. Due January 23, 2017: booking deposit of $2,000
  4. Due March 13, 2017: payment of remaining balance

Provided you are admitted to Adventures in Mind, all payments are non-refundable, except in case of cancellation of the Adventure by Vancouver Island University.


All participants must be covered by trip interruption and adequate travel medical insurance. You are strongly advised to obtain coverage for trip cancellation as well.

Air Travel

Participants must arrange their own air travel, but should not do so until they receive official word (probably in January 2017) that enough payments have been received for the Adventure to proceed. Before departure you will be given instructions on what to do on arrival in Florence.

Important Notice

A level of physical and medical fitness is required to participate in the Adventure. Many of the sites visited are accessible only on foot (some are not wheelchair-accessible), and some of the visits require lengthy periods of walking and standing. Accommodation may be several floors up, with no elevator, and you may have to carry your luggage considerable distances and up and down stairs. If you have any limitations or concerns in this area, please consult Adventures in Mind personnel before applying.

Admission Process

To discuss your interest in the 2017 Adventure, or to request application materials, please contact the Program Coordinator, Regan McKeever by phone at Toll-Free: 1.888.920.2221 Ext: 6536 or by email to Regan.McKeever@viu.ca.

To apply for the Renaissance Italy 2017 Adventure:

Print and complete the Application for Admission Form
Adventures in Mind is a VIU program and a student record will be created for you, if you don’t already have one. All applicants must pay an application fee at the time of submission.

Submit your completed Application for Admission form along with the application fee by mail or in person to:

Adventures in Mind
Vancouver Island University
100 Jensen Ave East
Parksville, BC V9P 2G3

You will be notified by mail when you are admitted to the Adventures in Mind program. A $500 commitment fee will be payable within 2 weeks of your acceptance. Full details on next steps, including how to pay the commitment fee, will be included in your Letter of Admission.