2019 Adventure #1: Renaissance Italy

Location:  Florence, with day-trips to other cities.                    
Adventure Dates:  May 8 - 30, 2019 (leave Canada May 7).
Group Leaders:  Prof. John Black, Constance Kovalenka. 

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 late April.

Group Leaders

Dr. John Black taught in and co-ordinated the Liberal Studies Abroad credit program from its inception in 1997 until his retirement in 2017. 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, Lunch and Orientation
Day 3     Church of San Miniato al Monte; Piazzale Michelangelo; Rose Garden
Day 4     Free Day (Possible optional Day Trip)
Day 5     Free Day
Day 6     Baptistery; Cathedral Museum; (optional: Cathedral) 
Day 7     Presentations and Discussions 
Day 8     Church of Santa Maria Novella; Brancacci Chapel
Day 9      Presentations and Discussions;  Uffizi Gallery;
Day 10    Church of San Lorenzo; Medici Chapels
Day 11    Free Day
Day 12    Free Day
Day 13   
Church of Orsanmichele; Presentations and Discussions
Day 14    Train to Padua: Baptistery and Scrovegni Chapel
Day 15    Free Day in Venice
Day 16    Return to Florence; Walk to Arcetri (optional)
Day 17    Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens; Presentations and Discussions
Day 18    Free Day
Day 19    Free Day
Day 20    Bargello Museum; Church of Santa Croce
Day 21    Monastery of San Marco; Fiesole; Final Dinner
Day 22    Free Day (Possible optional Day Trip)
Day 23    Leave Florence

Inclusive Packages

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

Program Fee:     $4,995 (plus application fee) 

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 acceptance: commitment fee of $500
  3. Due January 15, 2019: booking deposit of $2,000
  4. Due March 11, 2019: 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 under the age of 70 are required to purchase travel medical insurance in Vancouver Island University's mandatory comprehensive group plan: for details please go to Education Abroad Insurance. Because it is a group plan the rates are reasonable, and the coverage is excellent.

Those 70 or over may choose whether or not to participate in this particular plan, but must in any case have comparable coverage for the duration of the Adventure; before departure they must provide program personnel with details of their insurance policies and sign an exemption form.

Program staff will assist you in making the necessary applications for insurance, or for the exemption where applicable. Please do not buy insurance until the Adventure has been confirmed by VIU. 

You are strongly advised to obtain coverage for trip interruption and cancellation as well as travel medical insurance.

For medical, safety and other advice on travelling overseas, please visit Government of Canada Travel and Tourism.

Air Travel

Participants must arrange their own air travel, but should not do so until they receive official word (probably in January 2019) 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 this 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.

Print and complete the Application for Admission form 

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

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.

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 Acceptance.