Naturally, for my last week I thought it was important to include a little history lesson: and of course, a history lesson no other than about the Institute where I have been studying Italian and working alongside for the past two months!
Like essentially everything else you find here in Florence, the British Institute holds a lot of history. And my favourite fun fact that you may have not known about the Institute: Kate Middleton studied here! On her gap year more specifically, she took History of Art and Italian classes with the Institute. Pretty darn cool.
Established in 1917, the Institute holds prominence as the oldest overseas British cultural institute. Not only does the Institute have its language school located in historical Piazza Strozzi, but their iconic and glorious library is located right on the Arno river, the Harold Acton Library. Since my time here has commenced, I have enjoyed walking around the corner for a gelato at my favourite, “La Carraia,” and then a stop into the library for some reading or writing surrounded by shelves of literature and a spectacular view right out onto the Arno.
In the library, you can find some students studying, others quietly chatting, and of course- many huddled over books. Most of the Institute’s events take place in the library such as the cultural programme every Wednesday, Thursday afternoon tea, along with the History of Art lectures. Who wouldn’t want to have lecture in such a beautiful space?!
Originally founded to promote cultural exchange between Italy and the English-speaking world, today the essential goal behind Institute remains the same. Now, there is a comprehensive program of courses in both the Italian and English language. Alongside History of Art courses, there are also many cultural events that take place in the library that members and students at the Institute are welcome to attend.
All of the teachers, along with my colleagues who I have worked alongside, are all very knowledgeable and passionate about the work they do. I have learned so much from each of my Italian teachers, and owe my newfound confidence in speaking to them. On pausa, our break during class, my friends and I usually wander down to the Odeon bistro café located right around the corner from the well-known Cinema Odeon Firenze, a historical and original language theatre. A cornetto and un caffe are usually the daily special during pausa. I will always look back at my time here so fondly, I’m still in denial that it’s come to an end. If you love Florence as much as I do and are thinking of brushing up on your Italian the next time you’re here, the Institute is the place to be!