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Rome: The Eternal City.
Architectural & Cultural History of Public Spaces.

Course & Trip Overview

Rome in 2015

Rome is the Eternal City. It has played a significant role in western cultural history for over 2,000 years.

As a learning laboratory, the city is rich in examples of ancient, medieval, Renaissance and contemporary architecture. In spite of its significance, the city is not a museum, but a thriving and dynamic world capital.

  • ODU Course: January 14 - March 4
  • Travel to Rome: March 6 - 17
  • Course #: HIST or ART 285, 3 credits/Spring Semester 2015
  • Instructors: Nancy Recchie and Jeffrey Darbee
  • Estimated Cost: $3,200-$3,550 (no additional fee for tuition); some partial scholarships available
  • Maximum Number of Students: 14
  • Application Deadline: October 30, 2014
  • Deposit: $300
Apply Now
  • Course Details

    Rome is the Eternal City. It has played a significant role in Western cultural history for more than 2,000 years. As a learning laboratory, the city is rich in examples of ancient, medieval, Renaissance and contemporary architecture.

    In spite of its significance, the city is not a museum, but a thriving and dynamic world capital. It has evolved over two millennia and is one of the most vibrant and attractive urban areas in the world today.

    This course will focus on the art, architecture and cultural history of its public spaces. Among the places that will be visited are:

    • Roman Forum and Coliseum
    • Vatican City and St. Peter’s Basilica
    • Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain and other famous public spaces
    • Trastevere and the Jewish Quarter as distinctive Roman neighborhoods
    • Day trips to Ostia Antica and Orvieto.

    Readings, lectures, and class discussions during the first eight weeks of Spring Semester will prepare students for their experiences in country as we travel during Spring Break.

    This course is planned as a short-term study abroad experience. It is expected that for many students, this may be their first trip abroad. It is hoped that learning to navigate in a foreign culture where language, customs and the physical form is so different will increase their awareness of and appreciation for other cultures. 

     The course will accomplish the following:

    • Introduce students to the rich architectural and urban design history of Rome’s public spaces;
    • Guide students as they experience these spaces and discover how they reflect Italy’s cultural heritage;
    • Participate in daily life in Rome by shopping at an outdoor market and preparing and eating a meal together as Italians do; and
    • Provide students with the confidence to travel in a foreign country and to experience a different culture physically, intellectually and emotionally.

    Only by walking the streets and immersing students in the experience of a place, can Rome be appreciated fully. Students will also be given time to explore the city on their own.

    We learned from our previous two May Term experiences in Rome that the confidence students gained by being able to explore, get lost and find their way will help inspire them to become lifelong travelers.

  • Information Sessions & Fair

    Upcoming Information Sessions with the course instructors:

    • October 2, 3:30 p.m. in Griffin 259
    • October 8, 3:30 p.m. in Griffin 260

    ODU Study Abroad Fair on October 6 from 12:30 - 4 p.m. in Griffin Lobby.

    Or contact the ODU International Office at studyabroad@ohiodominican.edu.

  • Trip Cost & Deposit

    Estimated program fee:  $3,250 - $3,550

    Program fee includes:

    • Round trip airfare from Columbus to Rome
    • Hotel accommodations
    • Visits to Coliseum, Forum, St. Peter’s Basilica and Square, and other major sights of Rome
    • Admission fees to sites on tour
    • Breakfasts, some evening meals that you help prepare
    • Day trip to Orvieto, a beautiful hilltop town north of Rome
    • Travel insurance

    There is no additional charge for tuition for undergraduate students who are enrolled full time in spring semester.

    Additional costs: Students need to bring funds for lunches and approximately eight dinners not included in the program fee, personal expenditures, and any sightseeing done during free time.

    Scholarships: Partial scholarships may be available for students to help defray a portion of the program fee.

    Deposit:  $300 by October 31, 2014. This is non-refundable and should only be paid after you have applied to participate in the trip and have received an acceptance letter from the international office. 
  • Roman Sites

    Roman Forum & Colosseum

    These spaces, which are adjacent to one another, make it possible to understand the layers of history in Rome. Many centuries of excavations of the Forum give us a glimpse of Rome as the “Eternal City” by experiencing the Modern, 19th Century (Unification of Italy), Renaissance, and Medieval city all the way back to ancient times of approximately the first century BCE.

    Perhaps no structure is more symbolic of Rome than the Colosseum. Dating from the period of the Roman Empire, this building still inspires awe when seen in person. It is both an engineering and architectural masterpiece with an unsettling but fascinating history.


    The Campidoglio became the seat of Roman government in 1534, and Michelangelo designed the Renaissance Piazza in 1538. On an ancient site that originally faced the Roman Forum, Michelangelo turned the focus 180 degrees to face the Renaissance city.

    This is where the city of Rome was founded, according to the legend of Romulus and Remus. The Capitoline Museum is located here, and a view from its terrace overlooks the ancient city to the Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

    Pantheon & Piazza Navona

    The Pantheon, which was built by the Emperor Hadrian in 125 AD, is a remarkably well-preserved ancient building. It is also considered among the most significant structures in the world. The massive dome illustrates one of Ancient Rome’s greatest contributions to architecture – the innovation of the arch and dome. It is now used as a Roman Catholic Church. 

    Located just a few blocks away from the Pantheon is one of Rome’s most beautiful public spaces - Piazza Navona. The oval-shaped piazza stands on the site of a Roman circus (location for athletic games) built by the Emperor Domitian in 86 AD. It is best known today for Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s “Four Rivers” fountain, which celebrates the Danube, Ganges, Nile and Plate rivers and occupies the center of the space. It was completed in 1651.  

    St. Peter's Basilica & Square

    One of the most important public spaces in the world – it is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church. It might be possible to arrange for attendance at a weekly Papal Audience – which can have tens of thousands of people from all over the world in attendance – and is an unforgettable experience.

    Highlights of the Basilica’s interior include the Pieta by Michelangelo and the Baldacchino over the altar, designed by Bernini in 1633 over the spot where Catholics believe St. Peter was buried.


    Trastevere, which means “across the Tiber,” is a distinctive Roman neighborhood. It lies off the beaten tourist paths and appeals to visitors who want to savor a slice of daily Roman life. Here one can find the small shops, trattorias, grocers, and other shops that are the lifeblood of the “real” Rome. 

    Piazza di Spagna, Spanish Steps & Trevi Fountain 

    The Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps are among the most popular tourist sites in Rome. Named for the Spanish Embassy, which is still located in this area, the broad and graceful steps lead to the Chiesa Trinita dei Monti.

    Usually filled with flowers (in season), the Spanish Steps are a popular gathering place for people of all ages. It is sometimes referred to as “Il Salotto di Roma,” the “living room of Rome.” The Piazza at the base of the steps has a fountain designed by Bernini, which is fed with water from “Aqua Vergine,” an ancient Roman aqueduct outside Rome. 

    Just a few blocks away from the Spanish Steps is the famous Trevi Fountain. Completed in 1762, the fountain represents Baroque Rome. Water from the fountain comes from Aqua Vergine, the aqueduct restored by Pope Nicholas V in 1453. Tossing a coin in this famous fountain assures one’s return to Rome.

    Piazza del Popolo & the Pincio

    The Piazza del Popolo is an enormous oval piazza with an Egyptian obelisk at its center and a pair of twin Baroque churches that frame the vistas along three avenues – with Via del Corso in the center. 

    On the hill above the Piazza is the Pincio, a public park that connects with the Villa Borghese and the Borghese Gardens. The park offers spectacular views of Rome.

    Ostia Antica

    A 45-minute train ride from Rome will take the students to Ostia Antica (Ancient Mouth), which was the ancient port where the Tiber River entered the sea. Archaeological excavations make it possible to walk through this ancient port and to understand the sophisticated transportation routes and urban design of the Roman Empire.

    Campo dei Fiori & Piazza Farnese 

    The Campo dei Fiori is the site of a lively daily market. While tourists do visit, it is filled with Romans doing their daily shopping for the freshest ingredients from the Italian countryside. By mid-day, the market is gone and the sidewalk cafes and restaurants spill out into the piazza where Italians socialize until well after midnight. 

    Only one block away is Piazza Farnese, a quiet and elegant public space that is located in front of the Palazzo Farnese (now the French Embassy). Major features in the space are the twin granite basins taken from the Roman Baths of Caracalla, which were turned into fountains and placed here in the 17th century.