A summer internship at Villa I Tatti offers undergraduates interested in the humanities an unparalleled opportunity to experience professional academic research while enjoying a thrilling summer of cultural immersion in Florence. During my summer at I Tatti, I encountered my very first experience with guided, independent research as an intern entrusted with cataloging the Villa’s collection of Asian and Islamic art. By actually holding the artifacts, exploring I Tatti’s archival documents, and perusing its peerless collection of digital and print resources, we worked to draft catalogue entries for this charmingly eclectic collection of bronzes, sculptures, porcelain, rugs, and more from almost a dozen countries.
Every day at work was both an inspiration and a challenge; the sublime beauty of the Villa and the Tuscan countryside, not to mention the sense of purpose and excitement derived from actually handling and researching such rare works of art, were unlike anything I had ever experienced before. The ultimate highlight of my time at I Tatti, however, were communal meals, teas, and conferences with the Villa’s kind staff and its resident fellows. They made us feel like family, and as an aspiring academic, nothing meant more to me than the chance to speak with people who were pursuing their research passions for a living.
Ultimately, the excitement of living in Florence made the trip especially memorable. After spending two months in the city, I was grateful to have had the rare opportunity to explore the city not as a tourist, but as a summer resident with the time to find local haunts – from the hidden wine bars and bustling farmer’s markets to the quieter squares across the river. No other summer program can seamlessly blend access to one of Europe’s most luxurious and beautiful libraries, the best minds in the field of Renaissance studies, and above all, the transformative excitement of living and travelling abroad into one perfect package.
My time at I Tatti was a remarkable two months of cultural immersion coupled with moments of self-reflection which inspired me to think critically about how the humanities could play a role in my future. If you’re an undergraduate passionate about the humanities, appreciative of access to virtually limitless resources, and above all, have a sense of adventure and a willingness to travel and explore, there is no better place to nurture your interests than a summer at Villa I Tatti.