Studio Arts College International

SACI: Studio Arts College International


SACI’s mission is to provide undergraduate and graduate students with a challenging, life-enhancing experience in the center of Florence in traditional and contemporary studio arts, design, conservation, and art history. Students directly access centuries of Italian culture through a wide range of courses of academic excellence. SACI engages in leading areas of research and exploration, interacts with the community through artistic and social programs, and prepares students to excel in their chosen field.

Founded in 1975, SACI offers Academic Year Abroad, Academic Semester Abroad, Summer Studies, MFA in Studio Art, MA in Art History and Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Programs in Conservation.


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Yes, I recommend this program

After the first day of class me and a couple of friends decided to go out and explore for the first time all together. I was both extremely shy and excited. Towards the end of the night we all sat down at a table at a nearby Irish Pub. We all had our backpacks since we went straight from class, and everyone had their bags either beside them or near them. An hour later I realized that mine was gone, and that it had been stolen by either a gypsy or someone that steals things and sells them. Now let me tell you what was in there; my laptop, my wallet, and my keys. I'm not going to lie, I cried. A lot. I called my parents asking for help and assistance, my friends were extremely comforting and helped me the most. I had no way in getting into my apartment, and had to immediately cancel all my cards. My roommate came to my rescue and I slept on the couch since my bedroom door was locked. The next morning I filed a report with the police, and waited. Not even an hour later I got a call saying somebody found my bag! I rushed to the school to find two nice French girls who said they found it behind a car and thought it looked sketchy. They found me because my SACI ID was in there. Not to anybodies surprise, the laptop and all the cash has gone. I was in school and needed a laptop direly. So decided to put it upon myself to go buy a new one. The nearest Apple store was 30 minutes away in an area called Calanzano. I hopped on a train (after missing it 3 times because I wasn't sure it was the right one) and thought I was on my way there. Oh boy was I wrong. I got off on the wrong stop, and got back on, then got back off on the right stop. Finally! I was in the middle of nowhere, and when I called a taxi to take my to the mall which was a 20 minute walk, they hung up on me when I asked them in Italian if they spoke English. I called back and simply said where I was and where I wanted to go. As soon as the person said a word, a loud train came by and I didn't hear a thing. Great. What now? Well, a woman gets off her train and asks me where the mall is. I told her I was going there as well, but was in a situation. She called a taxi in Italian for me, and told me to wait 15-30 minutes for it. I was SO thankful for this beautiful woman! So I waited for the taxi. 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour. No taxi. It was getting dark and my phone was dying soon so I decided to call it a day and head back home. Only problem was that I only had cash on me, and the ticket machines just took card. I was stuck. I then built up the courage to ask a man nearby if he could use his card to buy my ticket home, and I would give him the cash for it. He agreed, but he wouldn't take the money. I've never been so thankful for a stranger. I hopped on a train (the right one) and headed straight home. It never felt so good to be in a familiar place. As I was walking home I decided to sit down and take a breather in San Lorenzo. While sitting I was approached by a waiter that works in the restaurant next to where I was. He asked me questions about what I was doing in Italy, and some other things. He then offered me something to eat or drink at his restaurant, only to find out it was actually a bet he made with his friend! Nonetheless, I felt so grateful the for people around me and the people of Italy. I learned so much about myself that day that I wouldn't be able to learn any other way. I will never forget the people I encountered in the week and the impact they have on me, even if it's in the slightest. Don't be afraid to take risks. Breathe, always. And in the worst situations, there is always something to be thankful for.

What would you improve about this program?
Better accommodations to students producing art. (Studios, darkrooms, spaces)
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Yes, I recommend this program

I have always loved being creative but wasn't allowed to go to art school for college. So I went abroad to an art school. The professors tell you everything that you should have been told as a young artist but people just assume you know. You're right Romeo, I should be inspired by my own work.

What would you improve about this program?
Have a sister university in Italy that has italian students and we have a class that forces us to spend time with italian students who are our age.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Florence is a magnificent city with history and art around every corner in every building. Although some of the better known artworks or buildings are easy to find, others are hidden among side streets or in churches you would never think to step foot in. As an art history minor, SACI made it easy for me to see the art I have been learning about for years. The six-credit art history courses include a traveling component where the instructor takes you around Florence and other Italian cities to admire the work first-hand. It was truly a unique experience that I am so grateful to have had.

The studio courses at the school were amazing as well! They offer general art classes such as painting and drawing, but also give students the chance to learn not so common art practices, such as fresco painting and batik. Each of my instructors were approachable and had great knowledge of their subject matter. The majority of them are Italian natives, making the experience even more unique.

Along with other course exhibitions, the school held a juried student exhibition where any student could submit work for a potential spot in a gallery show. For me, this was brilliant. It lets students show their work among their peers, faculty, and other locals who were eager to see our talents.

SACI was helpful in many aspects throughout my semester abroad.

What would you improve about this program?
Some of the studio spaces were crammed, like the ceramic studio. But since the school is located in the city, I can see how expanding it would be difficult in such a crowded area.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I constantly heard about culture-shock before going abroad, but can't say I ever truly felt it. Florence is such an easy city to adjust to, especially with the wonderful staff and facilities at SACI. Even when I went through a bad bout of being sick, the staff helped me find a doctor and get my health sorted out.

The two main buildings and the satellite studio are great environments to learn in. I was taught so much in my classes, not only about how to approach certain art styles, but also about myself. In addition, outside of the classroom I was constantly learning about the Italian culture, the art all around me, the food, etc.

SACI is a perfect fit if you're looking for an amazing semester/year abroad in a place that helps you grow through experience. Over four months, I changed and matured as an artist, as well as a person.

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Yes, I recommend this program

SACI is a program most valuable to those who are willing to take the initiative to further their academic and artistic development, as is any situation in life. Surely, the faculty at SACI are the heart and soul of the school-- they are truly supportive and inspirational. To this day, I feel a closer bond to certain professors there than at my homeschool.

Administration made it almost too easy to continue my studies in Florence for an extra semester!

SACI's main building is located is not a step too far from everything on your Florence-must-list, as it is in walking distance from practically everything, from Piazza Duomo to the Uffizi to the train station, Santa Maria Novella. The location of the Jules Maidoff building opens up other areas of the city that you might not have travelled to otherwise.

The language barrier was not an issue, as the intermediate class almost doubled my basic, beginner's understanding of the Italian language!

I truly found personal growth and self-discovery through my experience abroad.

What would you improve about this program?
Facilities were lacking, especially for the steep price of the school.


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Rebecca Lomuto

Rebecca is a recent graduate from SUNY Purchase with a BFA in Photography. From 2011-2012 she spent her junior year of college studying abroad in Florence, Italy at Studio Art Centers International. She is 21 years old and currently working as a personal assistant at Silverstone Photographs, located in Greenwich, CT and awaiting her next international adventure!

Why did you decide to study abroad with SACI?

One of the most important factors in choosing a school for me, was finding one that would allow me the freedom to really assimilate to the culture, while continuing my artistic body of work. I found SACI's course descriptions to be very open, while the descriptions given by the professors seemed earnest and passionate about the students' experience with art-making in Florence. This was the exact reason I was studying abroad! Among the spectrum of study abroad programs, I found that SACI had the most assurance offered in their site. It also didn't hurt that a teacher from home had recommended the school.

How has this experience impacted your future?

For one thing, I cannot get Florence out of my head! I am currently fine-tuning my Italian here in the States. Initially, in class at my home university, and now independently through music, film and connections I've made overseas. A much more significant impact that studying abroad has made in my life is the amount of friendships I made and retain even a year after my program has ended! I am still quite close with the friends that I have met both in and out of school. I also could not have asked for better professors and am grateful that a select few still advise me thousands of miles away! The experience within the Italian culture better informed my artist research through Florence's history and Italy's value of aesthetics.

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

There is no independence like that of being in a foreign country. Being at a new school, away from my family and friends, in a completely new place, I found myself thriving as a young, independent adult. You learn how to take responsibility of your own life; whether it is grocery shopping, studies or making sure you balance work + play-- it is completely up to you. With that independence, I found myself more confident in using my learned Italian and reaching out to make friends with plenty of locals. I really enjoyed meeting people of different cultures (Italian and otherwise)-- I feel as if in America, those cultures become watered down and dissolved, whereas in Europe there is much more pride and curiosity in each others' nationality.

Describe your favorite must-have food that you tried abroad.

I don't know if I will ever have enough of Italian coffee! I am a fan of the macchiato (an espresso "marked" by the slighted amount of milk) and fondly remember enjoying plenty of pizza (try the napoletana or the spicy diavola!)-- however, for the more adventurous eaters, I highly recommend traveling to one of the food vans (one among the San Lorenzo market and the other in the Sant'Ambrogio market) and trying some Trippa alla fiorentina (tripe) or a lampredotto panino.

The tripe is made of animal stomach, fried with tomato and other vegetables and served hot. The lampredotto is also made from stomach, although specifically the fourth stomach of a cow. It's cooked with tomato, onion and parsley and served on a delicious roll with salt and pepper, a green sauce, and the option to make it piccante (spicy). Both have a very strange and enjoyable texture and are flavored richly by the vegetables they've been cooked with.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

David Davidson

Job Title
Dean of SACI

What position do you hold at SACI? What has been your career path so far?

I’m SACI’s Dean. I worked for many years at colleges and universities in New York City, first at New York University, then The New School, and finally the New York Academy of Art, where I was Vice President for Academic Affairs. My wife (who is Swiss) and I moved to Europe in 2000, where I worked initially in Germany at the University of Maryland’s residential campus near Stuttgart. For the last thirteen years, I’ve been Dean at SACI, where I’ve happily been able to combine my commitment to fine arts education with my desire to encounter each day people from many different countries and cultures.

Did YOU study abroad?

Although I began college at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Studies, I did not study abroad or, indeed, begin working outside the U.S. until many years later. I did travel a great deal, both domestically and internationally. I completed my undergraduate studies in California and then moved back across the country to finish my graduate studies in New York. The more I traveled, the more I came to appreciate how critical direct experience of other cultures was to the learning experience. By the time I was fortunate enough to be able to move abroad, I believe I was as enthusiastic—and anxious—as most first-time study-abroad students about what I would be experiencing so far away from home.

What separates SACI from other study abroad program providers?

The big news is that SACI’s just launched the first MFA in Studio Art program by a US-accredited school in which all course work will be completed abroad. Students will spend two years at SACI in Florence. They’ll work in studios in the heart of Florence’s historic center, regularly meet with emerging and established artists, critics, gallery owners, and other members of the art community, and travel to the Venice Biennale, Rome, Milan, Turin, Venice, Berlin, London, Paris, and other sites where great artworks can be found and contemporary art is being made and displayed. We have a full class of students who’ll begin MFA study at SACI in Fall 2013, and we’re very excited about how their presence will affect the community of SACI undergraduates, Post-Bacs, instructors, and administrators.

What about the future of the industry? How do you think study abroad and international education will change over the next 10 years?

I think that in the next decade more and more students will go abroad to study for lengthier periods of time. Ten years ago, relatively few individuals traveled to China or Vietnam or Ghana or Ecuador to study. Now numerous students enroll in programs in Asia, Africa, South and Central America as well as in Australia and Europe. The more students and educators expand the study-abroad universe, the more exciting the future will be for everybody in the international educational community. I’d not be surprised if, increasingly, students pursued study-abroad opportunities on two or three different continents before completing their undergraduate education. That would be wonderful for all, I think.

Which country do you think is an underrated study abroad destination? Conversely, do you think there is a country which is overrated?

To my thinking, the answers to these questions will vary very much depending on the individual student’s goals and outlook. For example, some students find challenging and rewarding studying in a country in which a language other than their own is spoken. Others are more interested in learning about the antecedents of their own culture, perhaps by studying where their native language is spoken but in a way that reflects a different approach to the world from their own. Study abroad is not just about discovery but rediscovery. What seems exciting today may appear dull tomorrow. But, equally, what perhaps seems less exciting or exotic now may surprise us by how thrilling and unexpected it can be once we allow ourselves to experience it fully. For me, that’s what study abroad is about. What you bring to your destination counts just as much as what your destination has to offer.