entrance sistine chapel_square

PROGRAM “Rome: The Eternal City” | October 7 – 11, 2017

Art History Program (25 contact hours)

[Class time: Saturday – Wednesday]




Registration opened, click here


This course will explore the development of art and architecture in Rome from Antiquity to the Baroque period. The ancient Romans referred to their city as the “caput mundi”, or the “capitol of the world”. Stretching as far west as the Atlantic Ocean, as far south as the Sahara, north to mondern-day Scotland, and east to the Euphrates River, the Roman Empire encompassed nearly half of the known world. The ancient monuments of Rome still stand as testimony to the former power of the city. We shall examine these monuments first hand and stand in the shadow of perhaps the most extraordinary program of monumental architecture in history.

With the collapse of the Roman Empire, Christianity became the new “spiritual empire”. Popes supplanted the emperors and began to compete with them as patrons. The Early-Christian period is one of the most fascinating in history. Rome is home to some of the world’s oldest churches, and we shall examine how these churches demonstrate the transition of a pagan culture into a Judeo- Christian one.

Renaissance popes would instead imitate the emperors of the past and appropriate much of their architectural and artistic style in order to create what Pope Julius II called the “New Ancient Rome”. No complex better embodies this tradition than the Vatican. The greatest artists of the day migrated to Rome to contribute their skills to honor St. Peter. The result is perhaps the greatest decorative complex on the planet, which includes works like the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. We shall spend considerable time looking at these various works and how they represented this “new ancient glory”.

From the Colosseum to St. Peter’s Square, the monuments of Rome still stand as testimony to the greatness of this city.


  • SATURday OCTOber 7, 2017 (10:00am – 4:00pm) –  Greatness of Ancient Rome

Sites visited: Colosseum, Roman Forum and Pantheon | Duration: 6 hours

This lecture will explore the history and greatness of the civilization that was Rome.  From its monarchical foundations in the 8th century BC, to the collapse of the Empire in the 5th century AD, Rome was the city and civilization that dominated the ancient world.  Rome’s territorial expansion would encompass nearly half of the known world, and Greco-Roman culture would be exported to the far corners of the Empire.  The epicenter of the Empire was Rome itself, where Roman ingenuity and aspiration would produce some of the most celebrated monuments of all time.

This lecture will begin at the Coliseum, where we will examine the largest amphitheatre of the ancient world, and discuss the most popular of Roman social activities – gladiatorial games.
We shall then continue through the Roman Forum, stepping back in time to the days of Romulus, Julius Caesar, Titus and Constantine, weaving our way past the ruins of their great culture and through the tales, legends and events of their great history.  We will climb up to the Capitoline Hill, connecting the ancient emperors to the Renaissance popes.  The lecture will conclude in awe- inspiring fashion at the Pantheon, arguably the most perfect architectural monument of all time.

  • SUNday OCTOber 8, 2017  (9:00am – 4:00pm) – Searching for Saint Peter / The Sistine Chapel

Sites visited: Necropolis below Saint Peter’s Basilica, Saint Peter’s Basilica and Private visit to Sistine Chapel | Duration 6 hours

With the return of the Papacy to Rome in the late 14th century, the city began a long process of recovery from the collapse of the Roman Empire, which occurred a millennium earlier.  The Pope would assert his role not only as the spiritual, but also as the earthly leader of the Latin Christian world.   During the Renaissance, Popes would begin to emulate the Emperors of Antiquity and begin to appropriate much of their artistic language. With the reconstruction of St. Peter’s and the Vatican Palace, the Pope now also had an appropriate seat from which to rule as the “Father of Kings”.

This lecture will be held in the Vatican Museums and Saint Peter’s Basilica. We will view the major works of the Vatican collection including the Sistine Chapel, the Raphael Stanze and the Roman Antiquities. We will then continue on to discuss the architecture and construction history of the most important church in the Catholic world-Saint Peter’s.

  • MONday OCTOber 9, 2017  (10:00am – 4:00pm) – Roman Pleasure Palaces

Sites visited: Villa Farnesina and Villa Borghese | Duration 6 hours

One aspect of Classical Antiquity revived by the Renaissance was the tradition of suburban villas. Used by the Romans as a means to escape the stresses of urban life, during the Renaissance, these structures became a means to express wealth and power.  The two quintessential Renaissance villas were built by the Chigi and the Borghese family in the 16th and 17th centuries respectively.  Often used for debaucherous and hedonistic banquets, these structures also house some of the greatest masterpieces of Renaissance and Baroque Rome, created by such artists as Raphael, Caravaggio and Bernini.

  • TUESday OCTOber 10, 2017  (9:00am – 12:00pm) – Mithraism and Michelangelo

Sites visited: Basilica of Saint Clement and Michelangelo’s “Moses”

No complex in Rome better expresses the historical complexity of the city than San Clemente.  The present Medieval church stands above an Early Christian one; which in turn was built atop of an ancient Roman palace and apartment building.  But the most exceptional and mysterious part of the structure is the perfectly preserved Mithraic temple complex housed within.  We shall peel back the strata of Rome, descending through millennia to the period when all Roman cults, including one called “Christianity” cohabited peacefully.

Afterwards, we will continue on to the church of St. Peter in Chains to view one of Michelangelo’s most extraordinary sculptures-the Moses.  The sculpture now sits as the central piece of the compromised tomb of Pope Julius II.  What could have been the greatest tomb of all time, was, instead, Michelangelo’s greatest unfulfilled commission.

  • WEDNESday OCTOber 11, 2017  (9:00am – 12:00pm) – Caravaggio

Sites visited: Church of San Luigi dei Francesi (Contarelli Chapel by Caravaggio), Church of Sant’Agostino (Cavalletti Chapel by Caravaggio) and Piazza Navona (“Four Rivers Fountain” by Bernini)

Known as the pittore maledetto- the “cursed painter”, Caravaggio not only revolutionized painting at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries with his “hyper- realistic” style, he literally turned Rome on its head with his often criminal behavior.  Spending most of his time between brothels and taverns, Caravaggio’s love of the vulgar and violence became his primary artistic inspiration.  His paintings would reflect his lifestyle, often depicting Christian subjects in completely inappropriate ways.  We shall follow the footsteps of the artist in the very neighborhood where he lived, and view his paintings in the very churches where they first created controversy.

PROGRAM “Rome: The Eternal City” | October 7 – 11, 2017



Registration opened, click here