Florence video tourApril 22, 2021 – Dressed in a tweed overcoat and a billed beret, Florentine Art Historian and CSU International Program (CSUIP) Professor Marco Cianchi walks through the cobbled streets of Florence and through the arched doors of  the Church of Santa Felicita. 


“Behind me you’ll see the Deposition of Christ from the Cross,” Cianchi says, while standing in front of the masterpiece created in 1527 by Italian Renaissance painter Jacopo Pontormo. “It’s real and unreal at the same time. Magic colors. It’s one of the greatest examples of ‘mannerism’ here in Florence and all over, actually.” 


CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) students and the public can stroll through the streets, churches, public squares, restaurants and markets of Florence, Italy guided by some of the instructors of CSUIP in a new series of videos called “International Digital Education with Academics and Scholars” or IDEAS.  


With support from CSUCI’s Center for International Affairs, the CSU center in Florence and the CSUIP, CSUCI Art History Professor Irina D. Costache, Ph.D., created the video series to give students and the public guided virtual tours of one of the Renaissance art and culture meccas of the world—Florence, Italy. The idea, she said, is to promote CSU International Programs. 


“I don’t think this would have happened without the pandemic,” Costache said. “I realized we had to teach online and I needed to bring rich content to my students. Then I realized we will never see Florence like this again—with empty streets—because after the pandemic, it will be filled with people and tourists.”  


So, Costache recruited some of the CSUIP faculty to host videos about the subject matter they knew best. Cianchi’s video is entitled “Oltrarno (Florence across the river Arno): The People and the Prince,” in reference to the grand dukes or “princes” of the Medici family who lived in the Pitti Palace.  


Cianchi said creating the video during the pandemic in his native Florence was a different experience. 


“The empty city at the time of the pandemic was in fact a little bit strange,” Cianchi said. “Almost ghostlyBut for the purposes of the video it has been perfect... after all when we filmed, many of the stores were open and we could enter some to meet old friends.” 


The second video—“The Legacy of Women in Florence” by CSUIP Professor of Literature, Classicism and Women’s Studies Beatrice Fabbri—introduces viewers to the role of women in the history of the city, including the 13th century poet Compiuta Donzella. 


“Years before Dante, at the beginning of the 13th Century, Compiuta Donzella—considered the be the first Italian woman poet—wrote fascinating sonnets dealing with her wish to be independent and complaining of her father’s choice of a husband for her,” Fabbri said. “She spoke her mind, surpassing the norm of what was expected of women at the time.”  


CSUIP Professor of Political Science Lorenzo Cicchi will explore the political divides in Florence in “Political Polarization: Now and Then.”  


Florence video tourCicchi will illustrate the polarization using three different well-publicized court cases in the city including a conflict over a Florentine peninsula and a case between the two opposing soccer teams who have played in the Piazza Santa Croce every year since the 16th Century. Perhaps the most notorious will be the case of the Mafia versus the State. 


CSUIP Information Technology Specialist Refugio Cruz—an alumnus of CSUIP and CSU Long Beach—shot and edited the videos in Florence. 


“When shooting we decided to try and get the feel of the city,” said Cruz, who shot the series on his iPhone and edited them on his laptop. “I love history, art and I love Florence, Italy so it was a real pleasure for me to go around with an expert on the city and film.” 


Both Costache and Director of International Programs at CSU Office of the Chancellor Jaishankar Raman, Ph.D., hope CSU programs in other countries create videos of their own.  


“Amidst the pandemic, using a video from on location seems a natural extension to a classroom experience,” Raman said. “I certainly hope we can explore more such options in the years to come, not just at CSUCI, but at other CSU campuses.” 


To view the International Digital Education with Academics and Scholars, visit:  


Part 1: 


Part 2: 


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