NYU Florence is different from any other Study Abroad site. Its campus is made up of Villa La Pietra’s world-famous gardens and the bucolic agricultural landscape that surrounds them. As a small, but perfect, 37acre Tuscany Villa Estate it produces food but its main purpose for more than 550 years has been the wellbeing of the community it serves. Today, that community is the students and staff that form the NYU Florence family.

Pliny wrote “I always feel energetic and fit at my Tuscan villa, both mentally and physically.
[Epistles, V. vi.45]

Broadly, the estate may be divided in to two parts: the formal gardens where students may participate in outdoor classes, revise for upcoming exams or simply relax, take the sun and enjoy a homemade picnic in beautiful surroundings; the Community Farm made up of the olive groves and the walled garden, the Pomario, supplying the on-site cafeteria with fresh, zero-miles, produce in a way that is also good for our environment. Together they form a Green Laboratory of learning opportunities for a range of courses and extracurricular activities.

Through talks, workshops and discussion groups, Terra Firma aims to facilitate a deeper appreciation of this special place, to more fully enjoy it and to use it as a mirror reflecting wider issues in the world.



Tuesday, September 5, at 6:00 – Limonaia

Making the Most of Your Time on a Tuscan Villa Estate (Sign up Here)

Villa La Pietra, the Tuscan Villa Estate that is home to NYU, Florence makes our campus unique amongst NYU Study Abroad sites. The combination of a house, a garden and agricultural land constitutes a Villa Estate, a concept that traces its origins back to ancient Rome. A Villa Estate produces food but it is not a farm and its primary purpose is the wellbeing of the people who live on it. Cultivating the arts, the beauty of the wider landscape and human wellbeing are as important as the cultivation of the food it produces. This event allows students to appreciate Villa La Pietra’s long history, see how various families have lived on the estate and how NYU students may now make the most of the opportunities it offers to improve their knowledge, understanding and wellbeing. The event will conclude with the chance to ‘tase the difference’ with food prepared using home-grown produce.

Friday, September 8, at 10:00 AM – Pomario, Villa La Pietra

Planting and Sowing Vegetable Plants (Sign up HERE)

The Pomario, the walled garden attached to the north side of Villa La Pietra, has produced food for those who live on the estate for more than 550 years. The hundred plus noble citrus trees, the grape vines and the ancient pear trees provide living structure within which a wide range of vegetables are grown. Planting and sowing crops and caring for them until they are ready to harvest allow you to be actively involved in producing fresh food, grown on campus, and to be part of a tradition that stretches back to the Italian Renaissance.


Monday, September 11, at 6:00 PM – Limonaia

Garden Voices: A New Way to Explore the La Pietra Garden
The launch of a virtual audio guide.



Monday, October 16,  at 6:00 PM – Villa Sassetti

The Story of the Garden Through the Lens

A study case on the use of the Acton Photo Archive: the construction of the garden of Villa La Pietra. A talk by Francesca Baldry and Lorenzo Fecchio (Università per Stranieri di Siena).

Friday, October 27 – at 10:00 AM – Campo

Olive Harvesting
Followed by lunch at the Stone Table at Villa Ulivi

The olive oil we produce at Villa La Pietra is a particularly good version of the Tuscan olive oil that is famous the world over. We start the day by looking at olive trees and discussing their importance within Tuscan culture. We then harvest olives to work up an appetite for the traditional harvest lunch that will be on offer in the olive grove. The day will end with an explanation as to how the harvested olives are pressed to release their liquid gold and the chance to taste a range of very different olive oils from across Italy. Quality is a complex concept that needs to be safeguarded but also appreciated.

Saturday, October 28 – All day- Borgo S. Lorenzo

Chestnut Harvest & Cooking lesson

A bus will take you to meet students of the Giotto Ulivi School at Borgo San Lorenzo. Together you will harvest chestnuts and hear about the unique balance between producing these nuts that the Mugello area of Tuscany is famous for while maintaining the unique ecosystem in which they grow. Back indoors you will take part in a cooking class to prepare a typical chestnut-based meal before enjoying it with your new classmates.


Sunday, October 29 – at 10:00 AM –  Campo

Olive Harvesting
Followed by lunch at the Stone Table at Villa Ulivi



Saturday, November 4 – at 10:00 AM – Campo

Olive Harvesting
Followed by lunch at the Stone Table at Villa Ulivi



Friday, December 1, time tba, Istituto Buontalenti

End of the Semester Dinner

It is often said that the key to good cooking is to use good ingredients. Harvesting home grown vegetables for a meal is a sure way to ensure your meal will be tasty but it will also ensure it is as healthy as it can be. From the time crops are harvested they begin to lose their nutritional value and much of what is on offer at the supermarket may have been harvested weeks earlier, often before it was fully mature or ripe. This session allows you to harvest and prepare vegetables, cook them and delight in tasting the difference all on the same day.