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Elaine Ruffolo has been teaching art history in Florence, Italy since 1990 and is a popular instructor for students and adults alike. Her special interests include the history of patronage and the economy of Italian Renaissance city-states.


Ruffolo firmly supports the idea that the best way to fully understand a work of art is by exploring the context in which it was made. This approach gives the viewer the fullest understanding of the work of art under consideration and at the same time, brings the past to life.

  • B.A. in Art History, University of Wisconsin

  • M.A. in Art History, Syracuse University

  • Certified Guida Turistica della Provincia di Firenze

  • Member of Council of Academic Advisors at Friends of Florence

Museums & Institutions

Elaine Ruffolo currently lectures for Syracuse University and Stanford University in Florence. She is also the Resident Director for the Smithsonian Associate’s Programs in Italy, has developed art history programs for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Yale Alumni, College of William and Mary and the Patrons of the Vatican Museums. 


Ruffolo has been on the advisory board of the Friends of Florence since 2000 and consults for the Young Presidents Organization’s programs in Europe including Rome, Florence, Sicily, Naples, Greece, Morocco and Prague.

This is just a sample of the prestigious museums and institutions Elaine has worked with. 


Sandra Porter

The beauty of today’s program was seeing Florence with only a few people as we walked from downtown Florence to the Piazza della Signoria.  The sun shone golden on the buildings. Explaining her city in situ is what Elaine Ruffolo loves doing. At the end of the program Elaine stood at the corner of the Uffizi and I had a wonderful view I could not have experienced in person. Elaine is engaging and delivers so much art, architecture, civic, and historical information in the context of the present. The excellent slides of interiors and paintings of historic daily life enhanced my experience. The explanation of Michelangelo’s artistic decisions based on where the David was commissioned to be installed was so interesting.  

William H.

Elaine gave my family a tailored and amazing tour of Firenze.  Her incredible expertise, passion for the city, ease of communication, and insider knowledge helped us have a truly enriching and fun experience.  She shared the cities history, the intricate and complex dynamics in a easy way to transfer the information in a memorable fashion.  This included the architecture, buildings, industry, art, politics, and power in a personable way.  It is no wonder she is so sought after and well respected.  The best thing I can say is her tour was the highlight of our trip to several young men who had limited knowledge and passion for the subject when we landed in Italy.

Charles - Atlanta High Museum

We are back in Atlanta but still thinking of our wonderful morning with you in Florence. 


It was truly a highlight of the trip, and we are so appreciative of the time you spent with us. 

Jean - Stanford Alumni

I thought your overview of the history of economics and art of Tuscany was the best presentation I have ever heard and many group-mates said the same. 


(Let me clarify, not the best presentation on art and history. The best instructional presentation of ANY kind).

Tom - LA Times

We have been singing you praises for your terrific orientation yesterday. It was so generous of you, especially to end it on David.

Wow. Thanks again for all your help. Your love for Florence has become our love for this beautiful city. The Bargello was so moving. What talent filled this city 500 years ago!

THANK YOU! I have physically left my home 4 times since March 8. You have no idea how much I look forward to your offerings on Sundays and a Tuesdays. Really, I don’t think I could have survived this without you! Thank you for all of your efforts!

Susie Pitlick

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