Art History Abroad | Summer Courses in Italy

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The Art History Abroad Scholarship

Enter our Scholarship competition to win a place on one of our amazing 2-week Summer Courses worth over $5,000. Write 400 words about a work of art you love and another 400 about one you loathe. For 16 - 18 year olds, the deadline is 4th March 2019, see our website for full terms and conditions.


If you are between 17 and 22, AHA's 2-4 weeks courses are a brilliant way to pass some of the summer while doing something worthwhile and of real value. Study many of the greatest works of art on site while travelling through Italy. Carefully structured, this course is an excellent overview of art history for those new to the subject and particularly useful to those already studying it. There are two courses: Northern Italy, which travels to Venice, Florence & Rome, and then there is the adventurous Southern Italy Course which travels from Naples and Pompeii to Sicily. Some students do both courses and stay in Italy for a month.

Questions & Answers


based on 28 reviews
  • Housing 8.9
  • Support 9.9
  • Fun 9.7
  • Value 9.6
  • Safety 9.6
  • Program Selection 10
  • Pre-departure Help 10
  • In-program Support 10
  • Impact on Student 10
  • Value 10
Showing 16 - 28 of 28
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Four Weeks I Never Wanted to End!

My four weeks in Italy this summer were among the best weeks of my life, and by far the best summer I’ve spent abroad. As an international student living in Tokyo, my summers typically consist of quite lengthy trips, and wanting to get the most out of a very long (12 hour) trip to Italy, I took part in the combined Northern and Southern Italy courses, spending two weeks in each respectively, and a grand total of just under four weeks.

As a senior in high school, the trips I’ve participated in in the past have clearly catered to a more ‘high school’ group of students. AHA, on the other hand, is another story completely. I was initially nervous knowing that I would inevitably end up being one of the youngest of the group, as well as being American/Japanese among what would most likely be a group largely consisting of U.K. students. However, age was practically irrelevant and I got on well with everyone in both the Northern and Southern courses. Many of the close friends I made on the trip were also international students, hailing from around the world. AHA attracts a very diverse crowd; something that definitely adds to the experience of studying abroad.

The first two weeks in Northern Italy began in the canals of Venice, stopping in the crowded streets of Florence before ending in the ancient ruins of Rome. A typical day consisted of roughly four coffee breaks, hours on end perusing the paintings decorating halls of museums, eating the most amazing food, fervently discussing an artist’s work, and stopping for a spritz before laughing while you get lost in the tiny side streets of Venice, or stumbling upon the Pantheon on your way back to the hotel. I can’t even describe the certain feeling you get as you wander through each city; it’s just the dream of being in Italy. And the art is incomparable to anything I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience. From Medieval art influenced by the Byzantine empire to the Berninis adorning the rooms of the Galleria Borghese, Northern Italy is just brimming with the most incredible art. Though I may not have any significant authority on the subject, any history of art student has not been truly fulfilled before seeing the art that is readily available in Venice, Florence and Rome.

My third and fourth week in Southern Italy took me to Sicily, where I travelled with a different group from Palermo all the way back to Naples on the mainland. The south of Italy had a completely different vibe from the north, and the food, people, architecture, and art contrasted drastically to what I had experienced in the first two weeks. Day to day, we would leisurely roam the tiny street markets, drop by small churches hidden in deserted alleyways, satisfy our many mandatory coffee breaks, eat food that could give the North a run for its money, and sip bellinis while the sea breeze and the salt caught in our hair. Among the beautiful places we visited on the Southern trip, I will never forget the night we spent in Porto Palo, where we stayed in an amazing hotel by our own private beach. Some of the other students and I stargazed that night, before coming down in the morning and watching the sun rise over the mountains in the east, Michelangelo and Bernina (we named the hotel’s dogs) sitting beside us in the sand. With the South comes yet another feeling I can’t describe, much like the North, and both are feelings I don’t think I’ll be able to replicate without being in Italy with people I am easily able to call close friends.

The tutors on both the trips constitute a highlight themselves; I can’t stress how essential they were to making this trip as amazing as it was. Every single one of them loves art history, loves Italy, and loves what they do. I honestly think this was a large reason for the extent to which I enjoyed the trip, and I would be lying if I said that the ‘learning part’ of the trip wasn’t another highlight. I remember discussing art pieces with them, chatting over dinner, having celebratory drinks after a transportation mishap coming back from Lago Bracciano. The tutors were absolutely incredible, and I owe them a lot for making this trip what it was: a life-changing experience.

I’d only ever studied art history in relation to my own art, and I’m still unsure about whether it’s a path I want to take in the future, but that definitely did not hinder my time in Italy. I’ve come out of this trip knowing terms and facts I never thought I would know, and yet if asked, I would never say that I endured a draining academic summer.

If I was back at Christmas time last year, deciding what to do for the upcoming summer, I wouldn’t only not change my choice, I would be insisting that I go on this course. And I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Yes, I recommend this program
Eliza Bell

Northern Italy

This two week trip to Italy was honestly the best two weeks of my summer. Venice, Florence and Rome are such amazing and beautiful cities, each offering something different. The tutors were excellent, so knowledgeable and really friendly. Not studying Art History made no difference at all as so many different subjects come into it and it was great to learn so much new and interesting information. We saw so much in each city but we were also given enough free time to do our own thing. The food was incredible and the restaurants the tutors took us to were always fun and good value. The evenings were always fun, going for drinks before supper along the canal in Venice and the beautiful picnic on the roof in Rome. I met some lovely people and the group all got on well, It was also lovely how the tutors integrated within the group. I would highly recommend this trip and would definitely consider going on it again. You are enriched with a whole range of art and culture so there will always be something for everyone.

How can this program be improved?
It would be better if there were more boys in the group so there was more of a balance. Maybe a bit more free time as it did get quite tiring walking around for the day.
Yes, I recommend this program
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I Went Back for a Reason (and it wasn't to get drunk in Italy)

I had the absolutely pleasure of taking three Art History Abroad courses over the past few years; in 2014 I participated in the Spring Gap Year Course and in 2015 I had the pleasure of going on both the Northern and Southern Italy Summer Courses.

I can honestly say that Art History Abroad changed my life. After struggling with depression and anxiety throughout high school, I decided to take a gap year and focus on what I loved: history of art. I could not have found a program that was more suited for my needs. AHA offers a unique experience full of beautiful education, beautiful places, and beautiful people.

To be fair, my first trip with AHA was a bit rough socially. The group on my six-week gap year course consisted of only 8 people, and we had a tendency to stomp on each other's toes. Yet, there is something magical about AHA programs that keeps social anxiety at bay. Seeing and learning about absolutely stunning art *daily* gave me a new perspective on life--perhaps it allowed me to see the 'bigger picture' and step back from the futile high school drama that had so clouded my world. The program was so delightful that even teenage drama could not make me unhappy. I was constantly educationally stimulated and surrounded by fascinating people; it was a breath of fresh air.

In case you were wondering, the tutors are amazing. Every single one of them. By attending three programs in total I was able to meet the majority of the AHA ensemble and I can say that every tutor hired is capable of eloquently teaching as well as mediating groups of teenagers (which I must say is pretty remarkable). I consider many of them good friends and hope to stay in touch with them in the years to come. The friendships I've made with fellow AHA students have also stayed with me throughout the years. As students who attend the program come from all over the world, AHA connected me with intelligent people and an array of global perspectives.

The trips are seamlessly organized; all museum trips are scheduled in advance and do not require grueling hours of waiting around. AHA also provides students with the occasional free day or afternoon, which allowed us to truly explore and get a feel for Italy (the country I now hope to move to).

Overall, AHA gave me a head start in life. I learned more than I could have by simply sitting in a classroom, I got real-life experience in a foreign country, I became better with conflict-resolution with friends and roommates, and I met absolutely amazing people. Ultimately, AHA prepared me for my first year at NYU and solidified my love for the history of art. I could not recommend it more highly.

How can this program be improved?
The one improvement AHA could make is ensuring AC units in all of the hotels. Of course, this is out of the program's control, especially when all of the units break at a hotel that has always been reliable!
Yes, I recommend this program
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From a pre-A2 History of Art student

I first heard about this course from an old History of Art teacher at my school. Planning to apply to university with this subject, I thought it would be a great course to do during the summer, with exposure to art in-situ - something I would have never been able to do in the classroom.

This whirlwind tour of the greatest (artistic) hits of Venice, Florence and Rome was probably one of the most exciting trips I'd even been on, also confirming History of Art was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. There's something wonderful about seeing a work you've studied in lessons in the flesh (or should I say canvas/marble?), it makes you realise that it isn't simply a grouping of facts you need to learn for your exam, but an actual image with a message that has influenced masses of people over the years. Furthermore, the content of the course is what is in my A2 syllabus, so this helps me consolidate the information for my exams.

I go to boarding school so independence isn't a new concept to me, but this course also helped me develop other skills. I decided to budget my meals (just for the fun of it) and ended up very successful - definitely something I'll put to use in uni! As a person with very bad navigation skills, all the free time we had in foreign cities meant I was going to have to work something out and in the end I'll say I did pretty well in not getting completely lost.

Best of all, the people I've met have made such a huge impact. The tutors were wonderful and I made such good friends. I know it may sound cheesy, but you may meet some of your closest friends on this trip and the memories I've made with them will most likely stay with me for life.

So if you're up for great art, food and company, I'd definitely ask you to check AHA out - I certainly do not regret doing so.

Yes, I recommend this program
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An American Perspective

In July 2014, I arrived in Venice for a two-week Art History Tour. To sum up my experience, I have three words-Is this real?

Each tutor-or in American terms-each professional, ideal educator knew how to inspire, fascinate, seduce, and humor my brain all at the same time! I remember being in awe and laughing over conversation at the dinner table-a new restaurant every night designed to fill you up with the richness of Italian food but with the gift of storytelling and unloading the events of the day. My favorite dinner night, hands down, had to be when we each chose/assigned ourselves a respective God or Goddess, and had to act our part for the rest of the night. From then on-jokes and laughs ensued. Or wait-maybe it was my birthday dinner when one of the tutors ordered me the best dish I had ever tasted and surprised me with a delicious chocolate delicacy. I can't decide!

Yes, sometimes you're legs calmly beg you to give them a break after walking around to meet the greats. My body was not used to learning while standing up! It's a small price to pay when the beauty of the AHA experience moves you to awe and wonder. Plus, the tutors are flexible and understanding. You let them know, and they will find a way to accommodate.

I would do this again and for a longer duration of time right this second. After returning to my hometown, and passing by McDonalds after Target after Walmart after another McDonald's, I yearned to return to the passion-filled streets of Florence.

You feel like an insider while traveling in one of the most densely packed destinations in the world. I knew AHA was a leader in the intersection of academics, travel, adventure, and culture, but I had no idea how lucky I was to experience Italy in this way. Besides being taught information with the BBC flair of the British accent, on more than one occasion, people would step out of their own tours and try to shadow ours. It was not rare or unusual for bystanders after a session completed to come up and request a private tour. I think it is a testament to the standard of excellence AHA demands. I think the people who are running this thing are pretty jaw-droppingly awesome.

Upon my return, I found myself encouraging my family to go out to dinner. It was not only a great way to bring a greater degree of connection with my family before flying off to university, but also helped me explore my own city.

It now seems possible to say "Let's go visit my friends in Rome this summer!" Am I referring to Michael Angelo's statue of David, (which I saw on my birthday!!), a church designed by Palladio, or the young couple I met during a quick change of pace from a rich, flavorful lunch to Gallerie dell'Accademia.

Bottom-line: If you have even a hint of desire to experience something beautiful and exciting, please for the love of all the Greeks, Romans, Venetians, Florentines, etc... give yourself the opportunity to experience the gift of a lifetime.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Personal Cultural Development

On this course not only was I able to see marvelous works of art but I lived, breathed and ate Italy; there were opportunities to experience everything cultural and entertaining on offer, from the Venetian nightlife to the Vatican we did everything humanly possible in two weeks. I did a summer course that took me to Venice, Florence and Rome and it is a part of my life that I not only treasure but think about regularly. The tutors had an incredible amount of knowledge and information available, not a single question went unanswered. Due to the experience that the tutors have, they know where all the best restaurants are and take you to them, in Florence we were taken to the most wonderful steak restaurant where steak fiorentina is a must. The friends that I made on the course were all so enjoyable to be around and came from all over the world- it was so exciting to share knowledge and interest with everyone. The course was incredibly inspiring and to be able to see the art in such a romantic and idyllic fashion is something that I can't possibly recommend enough- it was one of the best experiences that I have had and ignited a passion for art that has remained with me, even now.

How can this program be improved?
I might plan a bit more time for relaxing/ own time as the course is very intense that by then end people are exhausted. But there is always something magnificent round the corner and rouse you to distract you from the fact that you maybe tired.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Best two weeks spent in Italy

I went on this course in the summer after my first year studying History of Art at university and it was everything I hoped it would be. However the fantastic thing about this course is that it is beneficial to anyone who chooses to go on it- whether they are studying the subject, still at school or have already graduated. I learnt an incredible amount that has come in useful already in my second year studies, thanks to the constant attention of the tutors and the fact that almost every day was organised down to the last detail. We also had the opportunity to see the cities we visited for ourselves, with days set aside in each place for exploring as well as during the days in breaks. We ate together as a big group every evening which was really nice, and it gave everyone a chance to catch up if they had been in different groups. I had so much fun and really wish I had been able to do a longer gap year course, but two weeks spent in Florence, Rome and Venice is hardly a tough alternative. I would recommend it to anyone 100%.

How can this program be improved?
I wish that the programme offered a 'short course' that was longer than two weeks- I didn't want to go home.
Yes, I recommend this program
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The best four weeks ever!!!

I went on on the AHA Northern and Southern courses in two consecutive summers, and they were probably the best 4 weeks of my life! From knowing nothing about Art History or Italy, I came away with not only a fantastic insight and understanding of the Italian culture, art and history, but I've been totally inspired since to learn more and visit the cities. I think the thing that AHA offers (which no other tourist or educational experience does) is that although you learn such a lot in such a short space of time, it's made so interesting by being totally immersed in the culture, and the fact that the tutors are such great fun!

In terms of the social side, I've made so many friends (both people on the course and the tutors) who I still keep in touch with and we all know and value what an amazing experience we shared together.

I have recommended this experience to all of my friends (Art historians or not). It really is worth every single penny!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Most Amazing Two weeks of my life

I never took a gap year before University but doing the AHA Northern Italy Summer Course gave me all the experiences of a gap year in two weeks. Armed with pretty much no knowledge on Italian Art, I came back home filled with a passion for Renaissance Art and a deeper understanding of Italian Culture. That is what I love about AHA is how incredible the experience is. For two weeks, you are with a group of friends who you barely knew at the beginning of the trip but by the end know very well and are travelling around Italy, taking in the culture and experiencing Art in the flesh. The tutor sessions are fantastic, every tutor you have has their own unique and engaging tutor style as well as reams and reams of information about the Art.Their passion and excitement for the subject gives you a desire to learn more. The social side of the course is something I loved - Going out in the evenings, eating Italian food and meeting like-minded people is something so unique to AHA.
I'd urge anyone with a desire to do something different to sign up for AHA, you will not regret it - I'm already saving for another trip!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Best two weeks of any Summer

I first went on the Northern course with AHA, taking us to Venice, Florence and Rome. Whilst these destinations make any trip inspiring, the organisation AHA provides alongside the immense knowledge and vivacity of the tutors made the experience simply invaluable. Every day was dense with activity, but we also found relief in enjoying exquisite Italian food and wine with our new friends and tutors.

Whilst there's a lot of fun and food to be had I learnt a lot at the same time. The experience without a doubt boosted my History of Art Cambridge Pre University grade and in general really ignited my passion for History of Art in a lasting way.

When I signed up to do another year (on the Southern course) my only fear was that it could not possibly live up to my previous experience - I was very wrong about that.

How can this program be improved?
This program is perfect.
Yes, I recommend this program
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2 weeks to change your life

The course can absolutely not be recommended enough. From an academic point of view, it strengthens cultural knowledge not just of art but of the history, economics and social structure of the Renaissance and other periods. Crucially, this information is presented in an entirely approachable way - learning is a joy on this course, not an obligation.

Deep friendships are formed, much fun is had, and all in the background of beautiful, awe inspiring Italy!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Best Two Weeks of Any Summer. Ever.

While travelling through Italy I found new loves for the art we studied, but also new friends and invaluable mentors in the form of the FANTASTIC AHA tutors. I cannot find a flaw in any of them. I loved this course so much that I went on the 6 week Gap course this year. Anyone with any interest in art, architecture, literature, music, theology, history... will find this more than enlightening and the best education in these areas you can find. I recommend it to everyone I know with gap years ahead of them. I found that we students of all kinds, who all had loads to add, and I know others who have done more than one AHA course! It's so worth the time and money for anyone looking for a great way to expand their ideas about the Renaissance, the history of art in general, or indeed anything Italian. Sign up and see for yourself!

How can this program be improved?
No way. I loved every second. I can't find a flaw.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Amazing glimpse into Renaissance Italy

The two-week course I went on with AHA took me to Venice, Florence and Rome, with a day-trip to Padua along the way. All the tutors were great fun as well as being knowledgeable on all the art and the cities. We were never left without something to do, so we saw all the sites by day and then went out by night. If you want to see all the Italian wonders you've only dreamed about and learn more about them and have an amazing time doing it, AHA is the perfect company to do it with. My only regret is not having gone on one of their longer courses.

Yes, I recommend this program


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About Art History Abroad

Study art, architecture and European culture in Italy, France and London for a semester in the autumn, 6 weeks during the Gap Year or a 2-4 week Summer holiday course. Art History Abroad programmes are carefully structured and brilliantly taught so...