About the Fortezza
KSU in Tuscany aims to serve as a resource for the entire state of Georgia. In more than 15 years of programs in Montepulciano, KSU in Tuscany has established many connections to facilitate learning and culturally enriching recreation. Currently, it is in the process of creating state-of-the-art classroom and studio facilities in Montepulciano's Fortezza Medievale through the generosity of the KSU Foundation and the efforts of the Division of Global Affairs, where it is housed.
Its aim is to make both the human capital and its superb Italian facilities available first to students from Kennesaw State University and its USG consortium partners led by Georgia Southern University. Beyond that it will offer a wide range of programs, everything from cooking lessons to executive leadership training, to alumni, community, educational and business groups on a space available basis. While organizations affiliated with KSU and its consortium partners have first call on the resources of KSU in Tuscany, the Center seeks to accommodate groups and interests from across the State of Georgia.
KSU in Tuscany began in 1999 as a single study abroad program with twenty-four students in Montepulciano. That program, now called Summer Study Abroad in Italy, was originally affiliated with the European Council of Georgia and quickly expanded into two separate 4 or 5-week sessions now bringing 80-90 students to KSU in Tuscany each year. In recent years, KSU has continued to build additional programs in Italy including a fall semester intensive Italian language program in 2013 and a culinary/hospitality program in 2014. From the beginning, KSU has worked closely with the Il Sasso Italian Language School in Montepulciano.
In February 2013 Kennesaw State signed an agreement with the Comune of Montepulciano to contribute to the cost of renovating the town's Fortezza Medievale in return for a 25-year lease of extensive classroom space as well as a scholar/director apartment. The Fortezza renovation is scheduled for completion during the summer of 2014.
Once the Fortezza facility is available for use, KSU and partner USG institutions plan to expand activity in Montepulciano considerably. Plans include art, music, theatre, and architecture programs as well as an undergraduate leadership training program, an honors program, executive training and educational leadership programs.
KSU in Tuscany was accepted for membership in the Association of American College and University Programs in Italy (AACUPI) in the spring of 2014.
Recent archeological work confirms that the site of Montepulciano's Fortezza Medievale, the high point of the Tuscan hill town, was the site of a tower as early as the pre-Roman Etruscan period, ca. 200 BCE.
Medieval records indicate a fortress was completed on the site in 1261, during the period Montepulciano alternately battled Siena and Florence to maintain its independence. The Fortezza was destroyed and rebuilt multiple times over the next several centuries.
THE SILK FACTORY
In the latter part of the nineteenth century, during a time of domestic peace secured by the unification of Italy, an entrepreneur bought the Fortezza site for a silk weaving factory. He added to a citadel that had survived the various destructions, and built a three-level east wing of galleries to house the weaving machines and their operators. These wings survive today, wonderfully renovated to serve as beautiful galleries for exhibitions, concerts, and spectacular celebratory banquets.
THE HIGH SCHOOL
The Fortezza's silk factory operated until the 1930’s when the structure was converted to a high school. These days most of Montepulciano's elders fondly recall attending school at the Fortezza. The Fortezza was abandoned in favor of a "modern" high school outside the old city walls in the 1960’s.
THE TV SET
In the early 2000’s, the picturesque surviving structure of the Fortezza served as the headquarters of a fictional Carbinieri unit in a popular Italian television series. The funds generated by that brush with show business provided the Comune di Montepulciano with the financial basis to begin revitalization of the Fortezza. Agreements with the Consorzio Vino Nobile and Kennesaw State University in ---- and 2013, respectively, provided the basis for a major renovation of the structure to accommodate 21st century needs.
THE ETRUSCAN TOWER
During the course of the renovation project that ensued, excavation of the ground floor of the old Fortezza revealed not merely the remains of medieval cisterns built to help the citizens of Montepulciano withstand a siege, but also a far older Etruscan structure from approximately 200 BC. The exact nature and purpose of this structure is still under investigation, but what is undeniable is that the site of Fortezza has been inhabited and contested for well over two millennia.
THE FORTEZZA IN THE 21st CENTURY
What the future holds for this picturesque and historic structure is for those who read this brief historical summary to decide. The classrooms, galleries, and scholars apartment that will make up the KSU Center in Tuscany create a beautiful opportunity. It is now for us to grasp the opportunity to use these state-of-the-art facilities to transform the lives not only of our students, but also of the many Georgia communities we serve.
Association of American College and University Programs in Italy (AACUPI)
The Association of American College and University Programs in Italy was founded in 1978 as a non-profit voluntary association that currently represents one hundred and twenty-five fully-accredited North American colleges and universities that have established programs in Italy for study and research in the Fine Arts, Liberal Arts and Architecture. AACUPI seeks to enhance and facilitate the international education interests of North American college and university programs in Italy through cooperative effort and is desirous of extending, protecting and generally enriching individual instructional programs and academic research activities by mutual assistance. AACUPI seeks to further expand the scope of cooperative relationships between its member programs and appropriate Italian counterpart institutions through educational and other cultural exchange.
A full list of all AACUPI member institutions, their locations and contact information can be found at the AACUPI Members Page.