The British institute of Florence

Dec 06
The British Institute of Florence

The British Institute of Florence

One of my clients is The British Institute of Florence and I am doing some business development work with them. They are great clients to work with and spending time in Florence – well I can hardly complain about that!

In case you have never heard of it, The British Institute of Florence (or “bif” for short) is a cultural institute in Florence, Italy with the aim of promoting Anglo-Italian understanding, teaching English and Italian languages and History of Art, and running a lending Library of English books to illustrate British and Italian literature, art, history and music. It is also the oldest overseas British cultural institute in the world.

The Institute was set up in late 1917, towards the end of the First World War, by a group of Anglo-Italian scholars, intellectuals and public figures who were keen to create a cultural centre in the city of Florence and to counter the anti-British propaganda of the time.

You can read more about its history on the Institute’s website but one thing learned from wikipedia I never knew was that apparently D.H. Lawrence went into the British Institute one day, upset by the then Director’s Fascist leanings, and shouted ‘This is the Anti-British Institute’. He was forcibly ejected!

Based in two separate buildings in the historic centre of beautiful Florence in the heart of Tuscany, the British Institute today offers a wide range of courses throughout the year including Italian for non-Italian speakers, English for Italians and fascinating courses on the History of Art – and where better to be based?

I first became aware of bif when I decided last year that I wanted to spend a month in Italy learning Italian. Not knowing where to start I turned to the Internet and after some searching decided that I wanted to spend my month in Florence or Siena. I just couldn’t believe the number of courses which were on offer but I soon whittled my list down and after a half hour on the phone with Juliet at the Institute I decided that the British Institute in Florence was the place for me.

I shall write more about my trip another day but suffice it to say that I had a wonderful time. I became immersed in my Italian classes. As their style of teaching Italian is to speak only Italian and the first phrases I learned were “Come si dice?How do you say it?” and “Che significa?- What does it mean?”. I discovered Florence and I completely fell in love with Italy and everything Italian.

This year I attended their summer school in Massa Marittima, a beautiful hill town in the Maremma district of Tuscany – much more about that to follow.

I spend my working life now mainly doing Consultancy in Business Development and Communications (more about me on my website) and as my very first foreign project I am delighted to be involved a project with the British Institute.

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