Our Mission

With a long and successful history of developing seminars, retreats, and cultural exchanges, our Italian and American team assures each guest a transformative, quality experience. Our commitment is to provide a stimulating and joyful stay, one filled with lasting memories and inspiration.

  • Bridget Coughlin, M.Ed.
  • Tom Valente
  • Paola Igliori

BridgetIn 1980, Bridget fell in love with Italy while a student at The School for International Training’s Experiment in Tuscany and Le Marche. Since then, she has continued her training in Italian art, language, and culture in Calabria, Friuli Venezia-Giulia, Lazio, Tuscany, at the Universita’ degli Studi di Milano, and at Middlebury College. A recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities grant in 2003, Bridget also studied the Teaching of Italian Language through Art in Rome and Florence. Her passion for Italy infuses the Italian language and film classes that she teaches and the workshops that she organizes for university and high school students with renowned Italian artists such as comedia dell’arte maestro and mask-maker Antonio Fava. When not in Italy, she teaches Italian and International Baccalaureate English in Sarasota, Florida, where she also serves as the education coordinator for Sarasota Sister Cities International, organizing exchange programs for students. The Toscana Institute is the manifestation of Bridget’s dream of creating a community in Italy where people from all over the world come to share in the best of la dolce vita.

TomFor more than 30 years Tom Valente has been at the forefront of cultural and special interest travel. From his role in the development of the Omega Institute to his position as president of the Global Academy he has distinguished himself as one of the premier developers and producers of innovative educational travel programs. He has developed programs for corporations, academia and governments throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia including the Foreign Ministry of Panama, Imperial College London, Bejing University and Social Ventures Network Europe. He creates international educational programs to enable students to explore other cultures in order to create a deeper understanding of themselves and their world. Tom has been developing and sponsoring Italian educational and cultural programs since 1998.

PaolaPaola is a writer, publisher, filmmaker and poet who was born in Rome on the family estate, Villa Lina. Throughout her youth, Paola’s parents hosted poets, writers and other artists at their estate providing a vibrant, intellectual and creative milieu which has inspired Paola’s own lifelong quest for creativity and scholarship. In the mid 1980’s Paola relocated to New York with her husband and artist Sandro Chia. While in New York she wrote the first of her books, Entrails, Heads and Tails, which was a series of photographic essays and conversations with such artists as Enzo Cucchi, Vito Acconi, Cy Twombly and Julian Schnaubel. Paola’s conversations with artists and her photo essays have appeared in magazines such as Artscribe, Interview and Wolkenkratzer. In 2003, Paola relocated back to Italy, in order to manage the family estate.


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