Cortona Experience

Be part of an extraordinary travel-learning experience hosted by the University of Georgia Lamar Dodd School of Art and Cortona Studies Abroad Program. The Cortona Experience offers expert instruction, studio demonstrations, hands-on workshops, and educational activities to artists of all levels—from absolute beginners to advanced professionals.

Come to Cortona for a cultural immersion that blends the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of Tuscany with stimulating intellectual engagement. Take this unique opportunity to practice your art with the helpful guidance of instructors and the collegiality of fellow Cortona Experience travelers. Come away with a richer appreciation and understanding of what our studies abroad students have experienced each year since the inception of the Cortona Program in 1970. A unique camaraderie is woven, making lifelong connections with fellow participants and Cortona.

The 2014 Cortona Experience will offer a variety of experiences for all skill levels in photography, painting (all media welcome), and drawing. Whether you have never held a paint- brush or want to hone well-developed skills, instructors will provide guided instruction and a range of techniques. Individualized feedback will encourage you to develop your own personal style.

Although years of experience have taught us that when in Italy, one should go with the flow, we have still attempted to create a varied, life-enriching Cortona Experience itinerary to follow. Input from Jennifer Messer, Enza Valente, Cortona Program Director Chris Robinson, as well as past Cortona Experience programs/participants have created a singular journey with expert art instruction from University of Georgia professors Gene Wright (watercolor/drawing) and Ben Reynolds (photography).

Cortona Experience Fall Itinerary:

SEPTEMBER 12 - 22, 2014

Day 1: Saturday, September 13

  • 1:00 p.m. Approximate arrival to Cortona
  • 4:00 p.m. Short orientation meeting in lobby of San Michele
  • 6:30 p.m. Aperitivo at Tonino’s with fall 2014 Cortona Study Abroad faculty
  • 7:30 p.m. Welcome dinner at Tonino’s, greetings by Cortona Director Chris Robinson

Day 2: Sunday, September 14

  • 9:30 a.m. Tour of Cortona led by Chris Robinson
  • 11:00 a.m. Meet with Cortona Experience instructors
  • 2:30 p.m. Tour of UGA’s Cortona residential property, the Kehoe Cortona Center
  • 4:00 p.m. Metals demo with fall 2014 Cortona professor Suzanne Pugh

Day 3: Monday, September 15   

  • 10:00 a.m. Tour Etruscan Museum with Cortona program art historian
  • 2:30 p.m. Meet to go to Le Celle monastery
  • 7:30 p.m. Dinner at Tonino’s with fall semester program participants, meet scholarship students

Day 4: Tuesday, September 16

  • 11:00 a.m. Visit local olive oil mill Frantoio to see process and taste new oil
  • 5:00 p.m. Italian customs and culture with Italian language professor at La Salett
  • 9:00 p.m. UGA Cortona Presentations at Kehoe Center

Day 5: Wednesday, September 17

  • 9:00 a.m. Tour Diocesan Museum, meet with Cortona Experience instructors
  • 2:00 p.m. Tour of vineyard and wine tasting with heavy hors d’oeuvres

Day 6: Thursday, September 18

  • 9:00 a.m. Meet with Cortona Experience instructors
  • 2:00 p.m. Demo in ceramics studio
  • 5:30 p.m. Marco Molesini presents wine-tasting in piazza
  • 8:00 p.m. Dinner showcasing wines from the same producer represented in piazza

Day 7: Friday, September 19

  • Optional travel day
  • 9:00 a.m. Meet with Cortona Experience instructors
  • 3:30 p.m. Cooking lesson with local chef

Day 8: Saturday, September 20

  • TBA Day trip to Siena with Cortona students

Day 9: Sunday, September 21

  • 9:00 a.m. Meet Cortona Experience instructors
  • TBA Computer lab available to print photos
  • 5:30 p.m. Reception and exhibition of artwork at Kehoe Center
  • 7:30 p.m. Celebratory dinner at Tonino’s

Day 10: Monday, September 22

  • Depart Cortona for Rome airport

Travel Arrangements and Expenses

Cost per person is $3000, which may fluctuate slightly based on actual group size and rate of exchange at the time of travel. Included in the cost is a non-refundable deposit of $500, which will reserve your space and also serve as half of your $1000 tax-deductible donation to the Friends of Cortona Fund that supports the University of Georgia’s Cortona Studies Abroad Program.

The cost of the Cortona Experience covers tuition, fees, receptions,most dinners, occasional lunches, museum entrances, wine tastings, other cultural/educational experiences, art demonstrations, guest lectures, ground transportation on field trips and group excursions.

Please note: the fee does NOT include airfare, hotel accommodations, personal expenses, art supplies, travel insurance or medical insurance.


We have reserved a block of rooms at the Hotel San Michele, a four-star hotel located in the heart of historic Cortona. The hotel is a modernized Renaissance palace that once housed the Etruscan Academy during the 17th century. Each room features a bathroom, telephone, minibar, air conditioning, and television. Included with your lodging, a full breakfast is served each morning.

For more information on making reservations, please contact Jennifer Messer at: or 706-542-0068.


Class size is limited and places are secured on a first come, first served basis. Please submit your deposit as soon as possible.


Make checks payable to The UGA Foundation (in memo line, write “Cortona Experience”) and send to Jennifer Messer, 124 Old College, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

After registration for the Cortona Experience, participants will receive detailed course descriptions, itineraries, suggested reading lists, and a supply list.
A pre-travel information session will be scheduled in Spring 2014.

View an online version of the printed "Experience" brochure.
Visit the UGA Cortona Studies Abroad website for more on the campus and Cortona.
Visit the Facebook Group from the 2011 Experience to see photos and memories.