Stanford’s Breyer Center for Overseas Studies in Florence officially moved into its new home, Palazzo Capponi alle Rovinate, on July 16 and now has welcomed its first group of students.
“One of our primary goals is to bring the students closer to the locals and the Florentines closer to our students and to Stanford,” Spogli Family Director Linda Campani and Academic and Student Services Coordinator Fosca D’Acierno wrote in a joint email to The Daily.
The program plans to host lecture series, concerts, film nights, art exhibits, concerts, workshops and tastings to open the center.
The Palazzo is located in Florence’s Oltrarno region in the San Niccolo neighborhood, a 10-minute trip to the Duomo on foot, and was constructed from 1406 to 1411. The only currently privately-owned and inhabited palazzo in Florence, Palazzo Capponi alle Rovinate was designed by Lorenzo di Bicci.
“It almost seems like an Italian palace,” Kaitlin Lang ’14 wrote in an email to The Daily.
No other programs use the Palazzo, which is inhabited by many members of the Capponi family.
“There is a lot of curiosity around the Palazzo since up until now it has never been open to the public,” Campani and D’Acierno wrote.
The Brever Center, occupying one floor of the Palazzo, is comprised of one modern wing and one traditional wing. There are offices, classrooms, a break room, a student lounge, a reading room, a kitchen and an art studio, which are spread throughout the center, along with an outdoor terrace overlooking the city’s Arno River. The center is secured via two buzz-in doors and a doorman.
“I can cook my lunch in our own large kitchen and eat on the terrace overlooking the river and all of Florence,” Lang said. “I can study in several different quiet areas and use the texts, archives, computers and other resources for information.”
Lang added that although many of the classrooms have been in use by the Capponi family for centuries, they have been equipped with modern classroom technology.
“The professors have been using all of this technology on a daily basis,” she said. “For example, in my Modern Italian Cinema class, our professor is able to show us movies on a huge screen with full surround sound.”
A few of the center’s classrooms happen to be some of the Palazzo’s most prestigious spaces.
“Our professors have commented that teaching in the Mirror Hall and the Coat of Arms Room is a real privilege,” Campani and D’Acierno said.
“The rooms and halls are simply more ample and functional,” they added. “The former facility just didn’t have enough room to enable the students to invite their Italian friends over.”
The Stanford in Florence Program has previously been housed in Villa San Paolo (1960-1973), Villa il Salviatino (1973-1987) and Palazzo Tempi (also known as Palazzo Baragli Petrucci) from 1987-2012.