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Custom Private Webinars/Events

In addition to our public events, we also offer customized live and virtual events with a signature lecture by Dr. Rocky Ruggiero who can be engaged as a paid speaker for events throughout North America, Italy and world-wide, for venues such as
  • Webinars
  • restaurants
  • country clubs
  • corporate setting
  • museums
  • private residences
  • cultural and religious associations
Whether it is a private dinner party, wine tasting, Webinar, cultural, social or corporate event, engaging Dr. Rocky Ruggiero will guarantee that you and your guests will enjoy a riveting and engaging lecture! Dr. Rocky's signature style brings knowledge, humor, and enjoyment together for audiences of all ages.
Event format can be customized for luncheons, dinners, half or full-day seminars, formal presentations in specialized venues, and on-site museum lectures.
Webinars can be arranged in either small or large group format, and scheduled at client's convenience.


A Renaissance Christmas
This lecture will retell “the greatest story ever told” through the creative genius of the great Renaissance masters. Come get into the holiday spirit with artists such as Giotto, Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Tintoretto and their moving visual interpretations of the stories that define the Christmas season.
A Renaissance Easter
This lecture will retell the great Christian tale of the Passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ through the creative genius of great Renaissance masters such as Giotto, Duccio, Piero della Francesca, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Tintoretto and their moving visual interpretations of the stories that define the Easter mystery.
Botticelli, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and the Antique
During the Renaissance, the importance of an art collection was not based on the quality and quantity of contemporary works that a collector possessed, but was instead based on ancient works, or antiques. Of course, those contemporary works were by artists of the caliber of Donatello, Botticelli, Leonardo and Raphael, just to name a few. This lecture will explore the relationship between ancient Greco-Roman art and the then contemporary Renaissance artists Botticelli, Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo; and how three distinct antiques – the Medici Venus, the Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius, and the Laocoon – each became the inspiration for respective Renaissance masterpieces – the Birth of Venus, the never-realized Equestrian monument of Francesco Sforza, and the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
Brunelleschi and the Building of the Dome
The dome of Florence cathedral, which was designed and constructed by Filippo Brunelleschi between 1420 and 1436, spans an octagonal space of 143ft. 6in., and is still the largest dome structure in the world today. Inspired by the majestic dome of the Pantheon in Rome, the dome of Florence cathedral stands as a monument to both the Florentine Renaissance and to universal human achievement. Popular culture often mistakenly claims that we still do not understand how Brunelleschi constructed the dome, when, in fact, the question is how he was able to build his dome when the technology simply should not have permitted its realization. This lecture will examine the epic story of the design and construction of one of the greatest engineering marvels in history and the technical aspects that made its realization possible.
Caravaggio – “il Pittore Maledetto”
Known as the pittore maledetto – or the “cursed painter”, Caravaggio not only revolutionized painting at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries with his “hyper-realistic” style, he literally turned Rome on its head with his often-criminal behavior. Spending much of his time between brothels and taverns, Caravaggio’s love of the vulgar and violence became his primary artistic inspiration. His paintings would often reflect his sociopathic lifestyle, frequently depicting Christian subjects in completely inappropriate ways. We shall follow in the footsteps of the artist in order to recount his unique biography, but also in order to explore the sublime art of his paintings.
Florence and Siena: A Tale of Two Cities
During the thirteenth century, Florence and Siena were two of the wealthiest and most influential cities in the world. Much of their wealth was derived from the manufacturing and trade of wool textiles; but other industries, such as banking, were also born in Tuscany. The proximity of the cities not only eventually led to an intense economic and political rivalry, but an artistic one as well. This lecture will examine how the fourteenth-century art and architecture of these two cities reflect not only an intense sense of nationalism, but also one of the greatest periods of artistic production in history, with artists such as Giotto, Duccio, Simone Martini, Arnolfo di Cambio and Ambrogio Lorenzetti competing to demonstrate the greatness of their respective cities.
Giotto - The Movie! - Cinematic aspects of the frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel
Giotto’s 14th-century fresco cycle in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy, is perhaps the seminal motion picture in Western Art. The artist transformed the iconic, sacred subjects of his contemporary painting world into a very human story- or what I like to call the “visual vernacular”. This lecture will examine a surprisingly modern aspect of Giotto’s work, that is the cinematic quality. To put it simply, the paintings in the chapel read like a motion picture or a film, in which humanity is the star. Giotto’s mise en scène is full of expressive character types, landscapes, colour and visual arrangements. The sequential arrangement and juxtaposition of scenes, instead, produce a visual narrative of which most modern film directors would be envious. In a purely visual medium, Giotto is able to evoke sounds and smells, emotions and expectations, humor and terror.
Il Gigante: Michelangelo and the Statue of David
Michelangelo’s statue of the David has been described as the greatest sculpture of all time. Standing 17ft. 1in. in height, and weighing just over 5 tons, the sheer scale of the statue is breathtaking. Yet, there is much more to this sculpture than just its size. This lecture will explore the history, iconography and importance of the sculpture that probably best defines the Renaissance and the great artist who produced it.
La Serenissima: The Splendors of Venice
Venice was the longest lasting Republic in history. The city’s privileged position as cultural and economic bridge between the Eastern and Western Christian world contribute to the uniqueness of Venice. The art and architecture in Venice clearly displays this combination of Islamic, Byzantine, and Classical influences. Artists such as Bellini, Giorgione, Titian and Tintoretto would make Venetian painting perhaps the only school to rival that of the Central Italian Renaissance. We will not only examine the buildings and paintings of Venice, but also the history of perhaps the most singular city in the world.
Leonardo and the Last Supper
Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper is one of the world’s most famous works of art. Painted in 1495 on a wall of the refectory of a Dominican convent in Milan, Italy, the Last Supper is celebrated as the first work of the High Renaissance. But few people realize that Leonardo’s painting of the subject was the culmination of nearly 1000 years of iconographic tradition; and that his depiction of Jesus and twelve (soon to be eleven) of his closest followers sharing their last meal together was one of dozens of Last Supper paintings to adorn refectory – or “dining hall” – walls in Italy. This lecture will explore the evolution of the subject of the Last Supper in Italian art, beginning with Early Christian images through to examples from the late Renaissance.
Masterpieces of the Uffizi Gallery
The Uffizi Gallery houses the world’s most important collection of medieval and Renaissance Italian paintings, with major works by artists such as Giotto, Simone Martini, Piero della Francesca, Fra Lippo Lippi, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Caravaggio. This lecture will examine the evolution of painting during from the early 14th to the mid-17th centuries as reflected in the paintings housed in this great museum.
Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel Ceiling
When Michelangelo signed the contract with Pope Julius II in 1508 to paint the Sistine Chapel Ceiling, little did he know the turmoil that awaited him. Never before had such a large-scale painting been attempted on a ceiling – and by a sculptor no less! After 4 and ½ years of physical strain, personal conflict with the pope, and an endless demand for inspiration, Michelangelo covered nearly 9,000 sq. ft. of ceiling with some of the most beautiful and sublime figures in history. This lecture will examine the artistic importance of the ceiling, as well the human drama behind its creation.
Michelangelo and the Tomb Tragedy
When Michelangelo was called to Rome in 1506 by the recently elected Pope Julius II, it was to design and carve the mother of all tombs. Intended to stand four stories in height and directly over the tomb of St. Peter, and to accommodate 40 over-life-sized statues, it was a direct reflection of both the pope’s megalomaniacal tendencies and the artist’s over-reaching ambition. Shortly after ordering 100 tons of Carrara marble with which to begin the project, Pope Julius put the commission on hold so that Michelangelo could instead cover the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in fresco. The Sistine ceiling was the first of a series of interruptions to a project whose contract would be reworked three more times over nearly four decades of legal battles between the rock-star artist and the exacerbated heirs of Pope Julius II. This lecture will explore the history of this epic contractual contest that resulted in what Michelangelo’s earliest biographer described as “the tragedy of the tomb.”
Mona Lisa’s Smile: Representation of Emotion in Italian Renaissance and Baroque Art
Leonardo Da Vinci maintained that “A good painter has two main objects to paint – man and the intention of his soul.” What Leonardo means by the “intention of the soul” is what we would call “emotion”, and the entire history of art has been an attempt to communicate, evoke, provoke, sublimate, capture or simply to represent it. This lecture explores how affective states were represented in the Renaissance and Baroque periods by examining some of the most iconic works produced by the great artists of the periods such as Giotto, Donatello, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Bernini and Caravaggio.
Renaissance Florence: The Art of Magnificence
This lecture will explore the development of art and architecture in Florence from the period c. 1050-1500 AD. Through an in-depth analysis of the art and history of this period, we shall develop an understanding of Florence’s role in the overall development of Western civilisation. Florence exhibits to this day a particularly well-integrated visual culture that integrates fully the arts of painting, sculpture and architecture. In addition to aesthetic and stylistic themes, we will also explore social, political, economic and historical issues.
Renaissance Pleasure Palaces
One of the ancient Roman traditions that was revived in Renaissance Italy was the building of sub-urban villas. Like their Roman ancestors, Renaissance Italians used these structures for delectation and delight; and as havens from the pressures and anxiety of urban life. But, also like their ancestors, Renaissance villas became hubs for debauchery and hedonism – veritable Renaissance Playboy mansions. Two of the best preserved of these villas are the Villa Farnesina (originally owned by the Chigi family) and the Villa Borghese, both of which are in Rome. The extraordinary art which has adorned these structures for the past five centuries serves as testimony to the often-lascivious revelry that ensued within them. From Raphael’s celebrated fresco of Galatea, to Giulio Romano’s erotic Loggia of Psyche in the Farnesina; to Bernini’s breathtaking mythological statues of Apollo and Daphne and Pluto and Persephone in the Borghese, the nature of the art clearly reflects the intentions of its patrons. This lecture will explore the history, practices, traditions, and art of perhaps the two most beautiful and well-preserved of Renaissance villas – the Villa Farnesina and Villa Borghese in Rome – and how they reflected their society and times.
Renaissancing Renoir
Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s poorly documented trip to Italy in 1841 marked a turning point in the artist’s career. After seeing works by Titian, Raphael and Leonardo first hand, the French artist declared, “I had gone as far as I could with Impressionism and I realized I could neither paint nor draw.” In fact, most Renoir critics describe the artist’s reaction to the virtuosity of Renaissance artists not as a “rebirth”, but instead as prompting the death of his revolutionary Impressionist style. This lecture will follow the footsteps of Renoir’s Italian voyage and examine those Italian artists and works of art that so marked the painter and his style.
Reverence and Rivalry: Religious Art and Architecture in Siena, “the City of the Virgin”
In the first half of the 14th century, the city of Siena was Florence’s main political, economic and artistic rival. Artists such as Duccio, Simone Martini and Ambrogio Lorenzetti were members of one of Europe’s most important school of painting. This lecture will examine the religious art and architecture in Siena in order to understand the city’s unique beauty and rivalry with Florence. We shall discuss the striking Gothic cathedral of Siena, and examine the various artistic works which adorned it.
Saints and Symbols
This lecture will explore the sometimes violent, often bizarre, and always fascinating representations of saints and martyrs in Italian art. From St. Sebastian’s arrows to St. Lucy’s eyeballs to St. Lawrence’s barbecue grill, Prof. Ruggiero will provide an engaging, informative and entertaining lecture about saint imagery and symbolism.
The Chapels that Defined the Renaissance: the Scrovegni, Brancacci and Sistine Chapels
The paintings of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua by Giotto, of the Brancacci Chapel in Florence by Masolino and Masaccio, and on the Sistine Chapel ceiling in Rome by Michelangelo respectively represent three extraordinary milestones in the history of painting. Each of these decorative complexes presents a revolutionary artistic interpretation of Christian iconography. In the Scrovegni chapel, Giotto’s introduces a type of “visual vernacular” by humanizing the divine protagonists of biblical stories. The Brancacci chapel instead clearly demonstrates the evolution of Gothic to Renaissance painting styles. On the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo would instead introduce his epic vision of the Old Testament as expressed through his radical interpretations of traditional subject matter and through his celebration of the male nude form.
The Greatness of Tuscany
The Italian region of Tuscany gave rise to some of the most significant political, economic and artistic cities in Western history, such as Pisa, Siena and Florence. This lecture will explore the great histories and art of various Tuscan cities; as well the general lore associated with one of the most breathtaking and best preserved countrysides in all the world. This combination of artistic genius, economic prosperity and beautiful surroundings gave rise to an extraordinarily high quality of production of the visual as well as the oenological and culinary arts, all of which continue to inspire the world today.
The Life and Works of the Divine Michelangelo
Michelangelo Buonarroti’s artistic career spanned more than seven decades, during which time he produced some of the most extraordinary works of art in human history. Dividing his time between his native city of Florence and his adopted city of Rome, the “Divine Michelangelo”, as he was known, was the first true master of the three major artistic disciplines – sculpture, painting, and architecture. This lecture will examine the epic life of the artist, using his milestone works of art and architecture to illustrate the “chapters” of the artist’s biographical history.
The Medici: Godfathers of Renaissance Florence
The Medici family was one of the longest lasting dynasties in history. From relatively modest beginnings, the family became one of the most wealthy and powerful in Europe. As bankers to some of Europe’s most important rulers, including the Pope, the Medici had a very strong influence on the geo-politics of their time. But perhaps their most enduring legacy is that of patrons of the arts. Artists such as Donatello, Brunelleschi, Botticelli and Michelangelo all developed under and enjoyed Medici largesse. The art of the Renaissance had become the visual political language of the Medici, and it was clearly a language of power.
The Renaissance in Northern Italy
This lecture will examine the art and architecture of Northern Italy during the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. Although Florence and Rome are usually considered to be the centers of Renaissance art, many cities north of the Apennines were also centers of extraordinary artistic production. Many believe that this was the result of an artistic “contamination”, as many of Florence’s greatest artists, such as Giotto, Donatello, Alberti and Leonardo da Vinci, traveled to northern cities, exposing them to the ideas and movements of the Renaissance. But cities such as Parma would instead produce their own local geniuses such as Correggio and Parmigianino, whose work would rival that of any central Italian master. Regardless of the reason, by the end of the fifteenth century, much of Italy’s greatest art was being produced in cities that are better known today for their industry or culinary traditions. By examining this art and history first hand, we will define the meaning of the Renaissance in Northern Italy.
Tyranny and Justice: Civic Art and Architecture in Siena, “the City of the Virgin”
This lecture will discuss the civic architecture of Siena as embodied in the city’s most important civic structure – the Palazzo Pubblico. This late 13th-century building still serves as Siena’s town hall, and preserves some of the most important murals of the 14th Century. Through an in-depth analysis of these murals, beginning with Simone Martini’s Maestà in the former room of the “Great Council” and then the Allegory of Good and Bad Government by Ambrogio Lorenzetti in the “Room of the Nine”- Siena’s medieval Oval Office – we will come to understand that the governing principles of an effective democracy transcend time.
Lecture themes can be customized and developed for specific events.

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