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, 37 acre Tuscany Villa Estate it does produce 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 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 olive groves and the walled garden, the Pomario, form NYU Florence’s Community Farm which acts as a Green Laboratory of learning opportunities for a range of courses and extracurricular activities. From this semester the Farm will also start to supply the on-site cafeteria with fresh, zero-miles, produce in a way that is also good for our environment.

Through talks, live and prerecorded, workshops and discussion groups, Terra Firma Firenze 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.


Wednesday, February 8, at 6:00 PM
La Pietra: A Tuscan Villa Between Productivity, Aesthetics, and Wellbeing
A talk with Nick Dakin-Elliot, Hulticultural Associate, and Francesca Baldry, Collection Manager.
Since last year, food that is grown on-site being supplied to the cafeteria at Villa Natalia. Historically speaking, fresh, zero miles, food that has been in a way that is kind to the environment is not new to Villa La Pietra. For most of the 550-some years since the Villa was built, those who lived here would have thought it the most normal thing in the world.

Friday, February 17, at 10:00 AM – Villa Sassetti
Workshop: The Hungry Gap
Within the year there are months of natural abundance, but the end of winter is known as the hungry gap in Tuscany. This workshop examines why this is and looks at some of the delicious foods that have come out of ensuring that no one went without at this time of year. Using black cabbage, traditionally the only green vegetable growing in the vegetable garden at this time of year, we will create a simple, tasty, meal and, in doing so learn about seasonality and the value of kale cabbages in our diets.


Friday, March 13, AM + lunch (La Pietra Garden and Istituto Buontalenti)
Workshop: Foraging on the NYU Florence Campus
Foraging has become trendy in the USA, but has long been a traditional part of Tuscan cooking. This workshop looks at the basics of foraging and equips us to identify some common but tasy produce that can be found in the olive groves at Villa La Pietra. Who knew that there are natural wild-growing herbs and edible greens on our campus? Come help us forage on Wednesday and team up with students from the local Buontalenti Catering School to harvest these secret wild delights from campus!

Tuesday, March 7, at 6:00 PM (Aula Le Vedute, Villa La Pietra)
The Theory and Practice of Sowing and Planting Vegetable Plants – Part I
The hundred plus noble citrus trees, the grape vines and the ancient pear trees that grow on the estate provide living structure within which a wide range of vegetables is 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. These sessions aims to equip you with some basic knowledge about sowing and planting vegetables in preparation of the possibility to work alongside the garden team on the Community Farm. Part I of this talk looks at the features of the perfect vegetable garden and how to manage them to make things easy while producing a succession of healthy crops to eat.

Tuesday, March 21, at 6:00 PM (Aula Le Vedute, Villa La Pietra)
The Theory and Practice of Sowing and Planting Vegetable Plants – Part II
Research shows that growing vegetables is good for your health, both physical and mental. Using your brain more than your body ensures that the hard work too often associated with gardening is kept to a minimum.  Part II looks at how we deal with organic waste to produce the very life-blood a good vegetable patch runs on and how to care for a simple range of crops.

Friday, March 31, time tbc + lunch (Istituo Buontalenti)
Workshop: tbd



Friday, April 14, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM (Villa La Pietra and Istituto Buontalenti)
Workshop: Cooking with Citrus Fruit

Saturday, April 15
A day of citrus-themed events, workshop, site visits, a talk and lunch.
AM – Visit to Villa Petraia and Villa Castello
PM – tba


Thursday, May 4, time tbc (in presence or online)
Development of NYU Shanghai’s New Roof Garden (title tbc)
A talk with Anna Greenspan

Full Program in PDF