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, attend summer performances of music, theater and dance 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 supplying fresh, zero-miles, produce to the on-site cafeteria as well as being a Green Laboratory of learning opportunities for a range of courses and extracurricular activities.

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.


August / September 2021

Welcome Day, Aug. 31 and Infofair, Sept. 3
Introduction to Terra Firma Firenze and its Fall 2021 Program
During the Welcome Session and during the Infofair, key elements of the estate such as the olive groves, historic formal garden, the Pomario and Limonaia, or Lemon House, will be pointed out.

The following three videos will be available to watch on this Terra Firma Firenze web-page between August 30 and September 6. Watching them will enable a better understanding of the estate’s history and what it offers NYU Florence students. USE SAFARI OR FIREFOX BROWSWER FOR BETTER CONNECTION.

The following video will be available to watch on this Terra Firma Firenze web-page between September 6 and 13: USE SAFARI OR FIREFOX BROWSER FOR BETTER CONNECTION.

Friday, September 10, 10:00 AM – 12:00 noon
Practical Session Sowing and Planting in the Pomario
The Pomario, 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 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.

Thursday, September 16 and Thursday, September 23, 2:00 PM
Coffee, a Chat and Caring for Your Veggies
As coffee is served in the Limonaia, you will be able to discuss your learning with NYU Florence’s Horticultural Associate, Nick Dakin-Elliot, and care for your crops as they grow towards perfection. “A little and often” is the byword of good vegetable gardening that these regular sessions encourage. More of an activity of the mind than the body, you will be encouraged to question why things are done and to plan what needs to be done next.

Friday, September 24 , 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM (time tbc)
Pizza Making Workshop
Anyone who has spent time in Italy should return home knowing how to make the perfect pizza!
In collaboration with and at our local Catering College, we are proud to offer 10 students the chance to learn how to make that pizza using fresh products from Villa La Pietra’s Community Farm and to enjoy eating it in the company of 10 of the College’s senior students.

The following video will be available to watch on this Terra Firma Firenze web-page between September 20 and 27 (USE SAFARI OR FIREFOX BROWSWER FOR BETTER CONNECTION.):

  • Healthy Soil – Healthy Food
    The secret to successful vegetable growing lies in the soil. Many feel modern agricultural techniques ignore the soil’s wellbeing while greatly adding to climate change. This talk looks at what soil is, both its mineral  and living components, and how gardeners may work to ensure it is in good health. [60 minutes]

October 2020

The following videos will be available to watch on this Terra Firma Firenze web-page:

  • Vegetable Garden Management – Part I  (Week of October 4)
    This video 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. [60 Minutes]
  • Vegetable Garden Management – Part II (Week of October 18)
    This video 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.[60 Minutes]

Friday, October 22 – Saturday, October 24 – Friday, October 29, 10:00 AM –  2:00 PM
Olive Harvest, Harvest Lunch and Oil Tasting
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 of 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 16 (or Saturday 23), 9:00 AM –  4:00 PM
Chestnut Harvest, Cooking with Chestnuts and Harvest Lunch
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 at the school you will take part in a cooking class to prepare a typical chestnut-based meal before enjoying it with your new classmates. Before returning to Florence you will hear how the school is involved in a program to convert food waste into meals for a local charity.

Thursday October 7, Thursday October 14, Thursday October 21 and Thursday October 28th, at 2:00 PM
Coffee, a Chat, and Caring for Your Veggies
As coffee is served in the Limonaia, you will be able to discuss their learning with NYU Florence’s Horticultural Associate, Nick Dakin-Elliot, and care for their crops as they grow towards perfection.


November 2020

Tuesday, November 2, 6:00 PM
Terra Firma Global Lecture – by Andrew Cunningham, Tokyo, Japan.
The first in an ongoing series of lectures that aims to have English-speaking gardeners, the world over, share their experience. NYU Study Abroad students, by now, understand the value of seeing things differently and know that there is more than one way of doing things. These sessions link us, via Zoom, to gardening skills and traditions from across the globe. There will be new things to know but there may well be solutions to problems we have here too.

Wednesday, November 3, 3:45 – 4:45 PM
Slow Food Production
Joint session with Dr Olivier de Maret’s Food, Culture and Globalization: Florence. Fresh food can be produced with very limited tools or chemicals and, in doing so, help limit climate change but most of our food is not produced in that way. Indeed, things are not as green as many of us would like to think. Growers use lots of plastic that becomes difficult to recycle and chemicals, organic or not, that harm the world we live in. Then there’s the consumption of water and fossil fuels. This session looks at some of the issues, allows us to appreciate the complexities, look at possible solutions and asks the question, is it time for some Slow Food Production.

Thursday, November 4 and Thursday November 11, 2:00 PM
Coffee, a Chat, and Caring for Your Veggies
As coffee is served in the Limonaia, you will be able to discuss their learning with NYU Florence’s Horticultural Associate, Nick Dakin-Elliot, and care for their crops as they grow towards perfection.

Tuesday, November 9, 6:00 PM
Terra Firma Global Lecture – by Eleonora Giulio, London, United Kingdom

During the week of 15th to 18th
Taste the Difference of Fresh Food, Cooking and Eating VLP’s Homegrown Produce.
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.