I Tatti at a Glance

Since the first Fellows arrived in 1961, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies at Villa I Tatti has become the foremost research institution in the world for Italian Renaissance art, history, literature, and music. Harvard University inherited Villa I Tatti and its estate outside Florence from the distinguished art historian Bernard Berenson, together with his vast collection of books, photographs, and works of art. Shortly before his death in 1959, Berenson wrote that his “first and foremost wish is to establish fellowships that will provide leisure and tranquility to sixteen or more promising students … Nothing opens mind and heart like free discussion of gifted maturing individuals, coming together with their own national traditions and differing attitudes and approaches.”

Today, the Center offers fifteen full-year post-doctoral Fellowships annually, as well as several Visiting Fellowships for shorter periods. It provides a tranquil setting where scholars from around the world can exchange ideas and carry out their research. In this way, I Tatti aims to increase our understanding of the Italian Renaissance.

The Berenson Library, with holdings of nearly 175,000 volumes, and subscriptions to over 600 scholarly journals, seeks to provide comprehensive coverage of current scholarship on all aspects of the Italian Renaissance. The library includes an extensive and historically important photograph collection, with over 250,000 prints, an archive that documents the lives and work of Bernard and Mary Berenson, and the Morrill Music Library, considered one of the finest in the world for medieval and Renaissance music. The historic house contains a major collection of Renaissance and Asian art, installed much as it was in Berenson’s day. I Tatti also consists of a working farm and a historic garden. Since it was completed in 1915, the Italianate garden designed by Cecil Pinsent has provided inspiration for generations of designers and scholars.

By now, almost every major scholar who is engaged in the study of the Italian Renaissance has spent productive time at Villa I Tatti. Conferences, seminars, lectures, and concerts provide opportunities for Fellows to share the fruits of their work with the broader community. What is more, a large proportion of the most valuable scholarship on the Italian Renaissance published since the 1970s has emanated from this seminal research center. As a result, the incalculable influence of the Harvard Center radiates out to the farthest reaches of the scholarly world.