Did you know Saint Valentine was Italian? Or that the man after whom America was named—Amerigo Vespucci—was born and raised in Florence, Italy, just across the river from Florida State University’s Florence study center?
The spirit of love and giving, and the connections between America and Italy, are embodied by the story of Florida State alumni Robert Tyson (’15) and Anna Castellano (’16). What was certain to be an exciting summer exploring the Tuscany region unexpectedly became the start of a love story for the ages. Robert and Anna first met in the summer of 2013 while enrolled in the same study abroad program in Florence, Italy. They were housed together within FSU’s Lungarno Vespucci Residence and connected through the extraordinary opportunities they encountered throughout the program, including their most treasured memories of visiting the Uffizi Gallery to view Sandro Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and climbing the 463 steps of the Florence Cathedral to observe the city from a bird’s eye view.
From that summer, they have remained inseparable ever since. While vacationing in Italy in July 2018, Robert knew there was no better place to propose then where their story first began—directly in front of their former residence from their summer overseas. Robert and Anna will marry in Florence this October, but as they started planning their destination wedding, the couple wanted to find a way to celebrate both the institution and program that brought them together.
“The experience of studying abroad is once in a lifetime, just like our wedding,” the couple shared. “The cost associated with such experiences is a limiting factor for some students, and we wanted to be able to help alleviate some of that burden.”
In lieu of a traditional wedding registry, Robert and Anna decided to instead request their wedding guests assist them in supporting the Amerigo Vespucci Scholarship Fund. Suitably named after one of their favorite locations in Florence, the scholarship will ensure future generations of students can share in the couple’s passion for Florence and FSU International Programs by aiding experiential learning opportunities through the Florence study abroad program.
“Studying abroad has truly served us in our academic and professional paths, learning to appreciate different cultures while making friends with people who did not speak the same language as us,” the couple expressed. “It was important for us to pay it forward as it opened our minds and hearts to the world around us while growing as individuals.”
Seeing the excitement their friends and families expressed with being a part of this gift, the couple launched a project through SPARKFSU, FSU’s online crowdfunding platform, for anyone interested in helping deserving FSU students broaden their horizons through study abroad.
“Study abroad programs can profoundly impact an individual’s life, even beyond their time as a student,” expressed Director of the FSU Florence Program Frank Nero, who will officiate the couple’s wedding in October. “Thanks to Robert and Anna, we’re going to continue hearing wonderful stories just like theirs as more students are afforded the opportunity to journey overseas and culturally immerse themselves in all Florence has to offer.”
In 2019, Florida State University extended its national reputation as a leader in student success by becoming the largest university in the nation to adopt an experiential learning requirement for undergraduates, such as international studies.
To support the Amerigo Vespucci Scholarship Fund, please visit SPARKFSU. You can also learn more about FSU International Programs online, including the Florence program and other exciting destinations.