Program Overview

The Via Francigena is a pilgrimage route dating to early medieval times which became an important source of social and economic exchange. The route played a central role in the renaissance in Siena and broader Italy and was experienced by such travelers as St. Francis of Assisi, author Mary Shelley and her husband, and Italian Nationalist Guiseppe Garibaldi.  You will explore the natural and social history of the Via Francigena, with an historic and literary focus on the route from the thirteenth century to present. You will learn about the geology, natural history and microclimates through which the Via passes not only through reading, but also travelling along the trail.

Academic Details

In addition to the Via Francigena: Trekking Through Italian History and Italo Calvino: History, Art and Science in the Modern World courses, you will enroll in at least two other courses offered at the GEO Siena center. The Intercultural Communications course is required, and you may also enroll in additional courses offered at the GEO Siena center. All courses offered in Siena are recognized and approved for academic credit by various GEO partner institutions. Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information.

The Via Francigena: Trekking Through Italian History has been approved for Comparative Literature (COLT) credit at the University of Oregon. This course is accepted as a course related to the primary linguistic tradition. Of the four upper-division courses, at least three courses must be on literature, film, or theory. The fourth course may be on a non-literary topic relevant to the field such as history or philosophy.

Students also have the opportunity to partake in an additional, optional add-on component of the Intercultural Communications course in the form of a service learning placement. An optional service learning placement is an exciting opportunity for students studying in Siena, Italy, during the fall or spring to immerse themselves in the local Sienese culture. Placements vary by term. In the past students have volunteered at local retirement homes, ceramic arts programs for community members with disabilities, pre-school and elementary schools, and rescue and social services.

If students opt for the service learning placement, they will be required to make both a personal and a professional commitment. As part of the Cross-Cultural Perspectives in Service Learning course, students will design a project in partnership with your organization host, conducting a needs and skills assessment. Over the course of the term, students will continue to develop their project while reflecting on your involvement and the cross-cultural context in which you are participating. At the conclusion of the program, students will present a portfolio of reflection papers, resumé, and project analysis. A service learning placement requires flexiblity and commitment to the internship schedule and entailed responsibilities. Because of the time commitment required, students may sometimes have to forgo a program activity or excursion in order to fulfill their responsibilities to the organization.

Course Equivalencies

Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information.

UO students, please refer to the UO Course Equivalency Process and the UO Office of the Registrar Course Equivalency Database.

Faculty and Staff

Roxann Prazniak is a history professor in the Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon. She specializes in the history of China and Eurasia, with her current work focusing on the Eurasian origins of early modernity. She has taught on the influence that Silk Road trade had on Sienese historical economic and cultural development.

Housing Description

Experience life as part of an authentic Italian neighborhood, living in apartments with other GEO and/or Italian students located throughout the town of Siena. Apartments are within walking distance of the GEO classroom within the old city walls. No matter where you live, close by you can find small local grocers, restaurants and cafés unique to your neighborhood. Each apartment is fully furnished. You will share a bedroom with one or two other students, as well as the common spaces (bathroom, kitchen, etc.).

Dates and Deadlines

TermYearPriority DeadlineDeadlineArrival DateDeparture Date
Spring Quarter202012/15/20192/1/20203/31/20206/13/2020

Travel Advisories

For current health, safety, and travel advisory information, search the US Department of State country webpage.

Priority Discounts

If your program has a Priority Deadline, complete all pre-decision application materials by this date to receive a $100 credit toward your program fee. Please note, students participating in multiple summer programs are only eligible to receive the $100 credit once.

Note: this $100 discount does not apply to priority deadlines for SIT programs.