Roofing problems shut down Georgetown’s Villa le Balze

Due to “roofing issues,” the Villa le Balze will not house students during the Fall 2010 semester.

“Our Villa is special and Georgetown is lucky to have such a property,” Karen Wardzala, Assistant Director of the Villa la Balze Programs, said. “But the building on the property is almost 100 years old. And as with any old property there are unexpected circumstances and situations.”

Instead of living in the Villa, students will split time between two hotels in Fiesole: Hotel Villa Aurora and Hotel Villa Fiesole. According to an email sent out to students studying abroad in Fiesole this fall, the locations were chosen for “their willingness and ability to help us re-create certain aspects typical of the Villa Le Balze semester.”

Except for those students who choose to live with Italian host families, the group will live at Hotel Villa Aurora until October, when they will move into Hotel Villa Fiesole. Wardzala added that all planned activities, such as trips into Florence and daily lunches with professors, will continue as planned.

“We wanted to keep it as close to Villa le Balze as possible,” Wardzala said.

The Villa, which was donated to Georgetown by the Rockefeller family in 1979, typically houses students and faculty year-round.

The Office of International Program’s email to the Fall 2010 Ville le Balze students:

Dear fall 2010 Villa Le Balze students,

We are writing to inform you about an important change to your stay in Fiesole. Unfortunately, we have just learned that because of a roofing issue, we will be unable to house students and activities at Villa Le Balze during the fall 2010 semester.Ensuring that you have a successful, safe, and enriching experience is our top priority.  We have therefore found alternative accommodations for the program in Fiesole that will allow for the living-learning community experience that you are expecting from your study abroad program.  We have selected these venues based on their willingness and ability to help us re-create certain aspects typical of the Villa Le Balze semester: modern instructional spaces; shared meals with VLB professors and staff; student gathering areas including spaces for homestay students to gather and store their belongings; professional staff who understand the scope of the program and the nature of Georgetown students; and wi-fi internet access to facilitate communication and research.

We are happy to let you know how the semester will unfold in two stages as follows:

Hotel Villa Aurora ( has agreed to host all program activities including housing for Villa students and the Residence Coordinator, academic instruction, and meals that were regularly scheduled to take place at Villa Le Balze from September 2 to October 6, 2010.

Hotel Villa Fiesole ( has agreed to host our program from October 6 through the end of the semester on December 16.

Both Villa Aurora and Villa Fiesole are conveniently located on the No. 7 bus line leading into Florence and are accessible from all of our host families; students in homestays will remain with their host families for the duration of the program and commute to the hotels for classes, program activities and, of course, lunch.

We invite you to visit the websites of the Villa Aurora and the Villa Fiesole to familiarize yourself with their locations and amenities.  If you have further questions please send them to:

Karen Wardzala, Assistant Director of the Villa le Balze, will be joining the on-site team this coming week to help with the arrangements for this transition.  As some of you know, Ms. Wardzala lived in Florence for over 11 years and will be an invaluable asset as we prepare for the upcoming semester.  Ms. Wardzala already has an extensive list of logistical questions that she will be investigating and will provide follow up details via email upon her return from Italy no later than July 30.

While we imagine that some of you are concerned that a change in venue will impact the experience, we encourage you to remember that the intellectual engagement and community atmosphere created by this program is a result of the students, faculty, and staff, not just the Villa le Balze.

Although we do not anticipate the need for any action on your part at this time, we have informed each of your dean’s offices and the on-campus housing office of this development.  We have also sent this message to the parent contact listed in your OIP online profile; we encourage you to talk about this with them.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation and patience as we finalize all of the necessary details.


Lisa Donatelli, Deputy Director, International Programs


Karen Wardzala , Assistant Director, Villa le Balze

2 Comments on “Roofing problems shut down Georgetown’s Villa le Balze

  1. But I wanted to have a fake study abroad experience! Does this mean I have to actually interact with–ugh–Italians?

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