Dove Cottage, Grasmere

2023 Adventure #1: Renaissance Italy

Location:  Florence, with day-trips to other cities.

Dates (to be confirmed):  May 2 – 25, 2023 (including travel to and from Italy).

Group Leaders:  John Black; Constance Kovalenka.  

Adventures in Mind is VIU's educational travel program for the community. It will appeal to life-long learners who are inquisitive, open-minded and looking beyond the usual tourist experience. It is open to free spirits of all ages: a level of physical and mental fitness is highly advisable; curiosity and a sense of community are essential!

The Renaissance Italy 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 March/April.

Under expert guidance, a group of 10-15 participants will encounter the Italian Renaissance through tours, lectures and seminar discussions, with ample free time for independent activity. Participants are encouraged to share their background knowledge and developing understanding with others, so that all benefit in their learning.

Apply for the Renaissance Italy 2023 Adventure

Group Leaders

Professor Emeritus 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, its vintage stores and its cats.

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
Day 10    Church of San Lorenzo; Medici Chapels
Day 11    Free Day
Day 12    Free Day
Day 13    Church of Orsanmichele; Presentations
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    Presentations and Discussions; Uffizi Gallery; 
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
Day 23    Leave Florence

Seminar discussions will be arranged at the convenience of participants, and most days will contain free time.

Inclusive Packages

Package costs include program overheads, 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 have adequate travel insurance, including medical. Food is not included, but accommodation is in apartments which have kitchens, so that food costs are minimal.

Program Fee:     $4995

Shared Accommodation (Apartment for 3-4 people, with living room, kitchen and bathroom(s); two people sharing a bedroom): included in program fee.
Single Supplement: up to $1500, TBD.
Private One-Bedroom Apartments (for one or two) may possibly be available: cost TBD.

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. Within two weeks of notification of acceptance: commitment fee of $500
  2. Due December 15, 2022: booking deposit of $2000
  3. Due January 15, 2023: payment of remaining balance

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

Travel Medical Insurance

ALL participants under the age of 70 are required to join Vancouver Island University's mandatory comprehensive group plan ( for details please see VIU Education Abroad Insurance (be sure to read the embedded text, especially "Some things to remember" - but see the qualification in bold below*). Because it is a group plan the rates are reasonable, and the coverage is excellent.

Those under 65 can purchase the insurance online through the "Buy Now" link on the above page. Those aged 65-69 should instead email for an application form. Mention that you are seeking insurance under the VIU plan. Payment by Visa or MasterCard will be required. 

Those 70 or over are not eligible for this plan, but must have comparable coverage from a provider of their choice for the duration of the Adventure; before departure you must provide program personnel with proof of coverage.

In addition, you are strongly advised (but not required) to obtain coverage for trip interruption and cancellation; this is available through for those aged below 70, or may be purchased from a different provider.

Please do not buy any insurance until the Adventure has been confirmed by VIU.

* Please note too that at the time of writing the details on the Education Abroad webpage pertaining to those over 65 are out-of-date. The information above is correct.

For medical, safety and other advice on travelling overseas, please visit the Canadian federal government website.

Air Travel

Participants must arrange their own air travel, but should not do so until they receive official word (probably in January 2023) that the Adventure will 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 get the most out of the Adventure. Some of the sites visited are accessible only on foot (some may not be wheelchair-accessible), and some visits may require lengthy periods of walking and standing. On arrival and departure you will have to carry your own luggage. If you have any limitations or concerns in this area, please consult Adventures in Mind personnel before applying.

Admission Process

To register your interest in the 2023 Adventure, or to request application materials, please email

Apply for the Renaissance Italy 2023 Adventure

Adventures in Mind is a VIU program and a student record will be created for you if you don’t already have one.

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

Renaissance Italy