Calder Classics

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Summer in Florence : July 2-16, 2020

A unique summer Classics-inspired Writing Workshop in Florence, Italy designed for high school students to hone their Creative Writing skills. Here, in the birthplace of the Renaissance, we make literature and composition come alive through an interplay of classical studies, art history and travel.

 Creative Writing Workshop in Florence

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Classical myths have long inspired poetry, prose, tragedy, comedy, music, dance and the visual arts. Calder Classics invites students to explore the classical foundation stories and their influence on our culture in our Creative Writing Workshop in Florence this summer. 

Through daily writing workshops, readings of ancient and modern literature, and exploration of local sites our students are sure to hear the local muses and return home with manuscripts of their own modern myths.

Calder Classics Creative Writing students spend two weeks in a stunning villa in the Oltrarno District of Florence. Site visits and meals are shared with Calder Classics Latin students, although all Writing Workshops are held separately from Latin classes. Immersed in an atmosphere shaped by classical and Renaissance culture, our Creative Writing students’ days consist of reading classical texts in translation as fodder to inspire their creative writing. Under the guidance of an experienced writing mentor students spend time drafting literary pieces in a workshop setting. They also explore local cultural treasures, and take trips to the monuments, churches and museums of Florence with our resident art historian.  Evenings feature cultural, leisure and culinary offerings.

The end date of this course is coordinated to permit students to optionally continue with the advanced Reading Latin + Art History session in Florence or with the Calder Classics Reading Latin + Ancient History course in Rome from July 18-30.



Students read classical works in translation by such authors as Homer, Vergil and Ovid, as well as contemporary fiction and poetry. Readings build on classical themes that are carefully curated to inspire each student’s own writing.  In response to prompts based on these themes, students compose and submit their creative writing during workshops where peers and mentors read and critique the work in a constructive and supportive environment.

Each Creative Writing student submits a second draft of a longer piece that is honed further.  In a culminating experience, Creative Writing students share their final polished work aloud with their peers in the Latin program.  

Dive into Italy’s Art, Culture and History

Throughout the course, we engage with local art and historical artifacts that are related thematically to, or directly inspired by, the literature we have read. With our resident art historian we explore the treasures of Florence, a myriad of museums, monuments, churches, palazzos and piazzas, and view such works as the Duomo of Florence, the Fra Angelico frescoes at the Convent of San Marco and a selection of Last Supper paintings. Our workshop discussions focus on the historical context and broader themes of the art as well as its connection to the writing prompts.  For example, a visit to Dante's house and local haunts is illuminated by a discussion of Dante's Inferno, Vergil's description of Aeneas's trip to the underworld and Tessa Hadley’s short story “Dido’s Lament”. Students then compose a piece around their own visions of the underworld.

Calder Classics Students Have Joined Us From…

ARIZONA: Veritas Prep  CONNECTICUT: Canterbury, Choate, Greenwich Academy, Hotchkiss, Milton, Taft  CALIFORNIA: The Harker School, Sage Hill School CHINA: High School of RenMin University of China, Second High School Attached to Beijing Normal ILLINOIS: Saint Ignatius College Prep  MARYLAND: Mt Hebron, Oldfields, Saint James School  MASSACHUSETTS: Berkshire School, Clark School, Concord Academy, Deerfield, The Dexter School, The Faye School, Groton, Middlesex, Milton Academy, Newton North, Philips Andover, Tabor Academy, Winchester High MISSOURI: Liberty High School  NEW HAMPSHIRE:  Phillips Exeter, Saint Paul's  NEW JERSEY: Dwight Englewood, Lawrenceville, Northern Valley Regional, Peddie School, Pingry, Princeton High, Stuart Country Day  NEVADA:  Sage Ridge School  NEW YORK: Brearley, Chapin, Collegiate, Columbia Prep, Dalton, Hackley, Holy Child, Manhattan Friends, Marymount, Nichols School, Packer Collegiate, The Park School, Riverdale, Rye Country Day, Saint Ann's, St. Joseph, St. Joseph-by-the-Sea, Stuyvesant, Spence, Trinity  NORTH CAROLINA:  Charlotte Country Day, Ravenscroft  PENNSYLVANIA:  Emmaus, Germantown Friends, Westtown Friends  RHODE ISLAND:  Portsmouth Abbey, Providence Country Day  SOUTH CAROLINA:  Ashley Hall TEXAS:  Saint Mark's  VIRGINIA: Woodberry Forest  WASHINGTON D.C.:  Saint Alban's, Sidwell Friends, Woodrow Wilson.  add your school to the list!


Alyssa Northrop

Alyssa Northrop




We have use of a spectacular villa in the heart of the residential Oltrarno district of Florence. The little maze of streets, known for its gardens, basilicas and artisans, provides an intimate view of the creative talents that carry on centuries' worth of Florentine traditions from bookbinders and sculptors to metalworkers and gold-gilders. Flooded with light and color, the villa is accessible from via Santo Spirito, one of the chicest streets in the district. Inside, we have our own dedicated floor and classroom/library where we hold classes, study or just relax, along with a common kitchen and lounge. All rooms are doubles or triples. There is air conditioning and Internet service.

Dates & Fees


July 2-16,  2020

The $5,000 tuition includes accommodations, transportation within Italy, museum entries, instruction and course materials (certain additional books may need to be purchased). Breakfast, plus either lunch or dinner, are also included. Depending on our daily schedules, students will be on their own for either a midday lunch break or an evening dinner break.  Students are responsible for the cost of their own activities outside of the group. Airfare is not included.



Students may travel with our chaperone on both legs of the journey, from New York City to Florence and from Florence to New York City. Calder Classics will arrange transportation between the airport and the villa for those students who choose to travel with the chaperones. International travel insurance is recommended.

Calder Classics Testimonials

"I am a firm believer that happy kids love to learn, especially when they are in an environment surrounded by great educators and other enthusiastic students. My daughter loved your program. The photos and updates you sent home were priceless and she enjoyed the small intimate group. These kids will be friends for a long time." - Jojo H, parent

"Calder Classics is an amazing experience that greatly improved my translation skills and added to the wonder of the city of Florence. Exploring the city and seeing some of the most beautiful art that exists was the highlight of my summer, especially because it was with such a great group of people. Cindy is fantastic, and I would recommend the program to all." - Anson J., student

"I had an amazing time in Florence this summer with Calder Classics.  The program was a great mix of academic Latin and cultural immersion.  I made so many great friends from across the country and saw buildings and statues that we had read about in my Latin class at school.  I loved the experience of reading Latin in the morning and then seeing either, artwork that the texts inspired, or the geological areas by which it was inspired, in the afternoon." - Davis H, student

"It wasn’t until the Calder Classics Latin Program in Florence that I realized that Classics is the best way for an artist to ground his interests in academics. Art, culture, and the origin of the Romance languages come together in one program that is by far the only summer course I would consider returning to again. I recommend Calder Classics for those who want to challenge their intellect and immerse themselves in new experiences." - Matthew H., student

"Thank you, Calder Classics, for providing our daughter with a memorable summer experience of three interrelated components: language, culture and fun.  She returned with newfound confidence in her Latin skills and has begun a new semester reading from prose and verse authors with ease.  The engaging activities and friendships she established from this unique learning and personal growth adventure will not soon be forgotten." - Darlene J., parent

"Sarah's trip to Florence with Calder Classics was the highlight of her summer. The class time reading Latin was challenging and interesting and always led to something that the group could then experience or see in a new way in the city- she loved that. She also enjoyed her travel companions; she came home with lots of stories and many pictures! She left with a sense of having really lived in Florence and with a greater appreciation of the history and culture of what she studies when she reads Latin." - Kristin V., parent

"I had an absolutely incredible time in Florence! All the people on the program were amazing and Mrs. Calder was a wonderful Latin teacher. I really feel that going on this program helped me gain confidence in my translating abilities and important translation experience. Meg, who was our Art/Art History aficionado/teacher, had a staggering amount of knowledge to impart upon us each day about the sights we were visiting. I loved this program, so I would love to come back someday!" - Alexia H., student

“Calder Classics was an amazing experience. The Latin and Art History teaching was fantastic, and I loved making new friends and exploring Italy." - Alexis B., 11th Grader

"Calder Classics provides a first class opportunity for high school students to learn Latin and Art History from exceptional teachers. The program does a particularly wonderful job incorporating the treasures of Florence and Tuscany into the curriculum." - Debbie and Richard B., parents

Photos From Previous Trips

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