Photography Schools and Programs in Italy

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Photography Studies in Italy

Italy, with its long coastlines and eternal cities, has captivated artists of all kinds for well over two thousand years. From ancient Greek travelers through the innovative painters of the Renaissance, and down to the avant-garde postmodernists of today, Italy has always inspired creative and artistic production. There are roughly 30 dedicated art schools spread out across Italy, as well as scores of smaller art departments and independent study-abroad programs. Although these art schools have historically focused on painting and sculpture more than photography, this is beginning to change as photography gains more and more prestige as an art form in its own right. So photography students have ample choice when they look at art schools in Italy.

Of course, the primary consideration when choosing an art school (in Italy or anywhere else) should be the reputation, faculty, and course offerings of the specific program, as well as practical considerations such as cost and time to degree. But location also makes a big difference when it comes to choosing photography programs. This is true in part because the lifestyle varies so widely – Venice and Rome are bustling, chaotic global cities with a cosmopolitan atmosphere, whereas the countryside of Tuscany or Sicily is famously tranquil and pastoral.

But location choice is also particularly important for photography students, since different locations offer very different opportunities for subject matter. The countryside is excellent for landscape and nature photography, pastoral scenes, and the slow, intimate work of in-depth portraiture. The cities, on the other hand, are best for architectural photography and, of course, cityscapes. The different environments also have a tendency to appeal to different kinds of creative visions. Typically, the hustle and bustle of urban life leads to a fragmentary, abstract style of photographic output, whereas the countryside lends itself to photographs that are more traditionally formalistic. Of course, many creative photographers manage to turn this tendency on its head – taking experimental shots of rural settings or, conversely, emphasizing the placid and traditional within the urban environment. Italy affords plenty of opportunities for this kind of creative invention, especially in its mixture of different urban and rural surroundings.

Many of the more prestigious art schools in Italy are in the “Academia di Belle Arte” (Academy of Fine Art) category, which includes such campuses as Academia di Belle Arte di Roma, Academia di Belle Arte di Napoli, and Academia di Belle Arte di Firenze. These institutions are highly respected in Italy, and throughout the world. They are less popular with students from outside Italy, however, because their classes are almost always taught in Italian. Fortunately, there are many international programs – art schools operated by foreign universities but located in Italy – to be found. These are primarily located in Rome, and include such schools as the British School at Rome, the French Academy in Rome, and the American Academy in Rome. Students who have language restrictions would be well-served to consider these fine programs in addition to the short-term study abroad programs that may be offered by colleges and universities in their home country.

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