Our study ultimately spends 3 weeks in Tuscany, beginning with a deep study of cultural patterns and everyday acts, rituals and practices in the Tuscan hill-towns that culminates in Firenze with a major study of what works and what does not in Italian aesthetic experience and the legacy and weight of the past. The Firenze project looks at current urban “edge” situations in the city while reflecting in the space of a paradigmatic civicness. The project brief is handed out in Brunelleschi’s cortile in the Santa Croce complex. This set of projects in our preparatory studies prepares the student-researchers for the profound experience and awareness of being in such a historically-rich place: steps from the Pazzi Chapel, Giotto’s Peruzzi and Bardi chapels, and the tombs of Machiavelli, Dante and Michelangelo. Individual presentations on the legacy of the Florentine Renaissance cover the work of Dante, Bocaccio, Machiavelli, Galileo, Brunelleschi, Alberti, Donatello, Botticelli, Giotto and the great works of Florence. We also cover in this section an overview of the Tuscan hill-towns that we will visit, study and do a focused project on Siena as a birthplace of civitas and “good government”. Again, once the group arrives in Firenze, these sites are like old-friends - the challenge then, is to experience them strategically (and early!) to avoid mass tourism and its detrimental effect of turning genius into simulacra.