Home > Rome Study Abroad 2013
  • Rome, the Eternal City – Architectural & Cultural History of Public Spaces 

    Rome, May Term 2013 
    ART/HST 285

    3 credits- 2 during the 2nd half of Spring 2013, 1 credit during May Term

    Prof. Nancy Recchie and Prof. Jeffrey Darbee

    Course Description:

    “The blessing of Rome is not that this or that or the other isolated object is so very unsurpassable, but that the general air so contributes to impressions that are not as any other impressions anywhere in the world.” -Henry James, Italian Hours

    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 world capital. It has evolved over two millennia and it is one of the most vibrant and attractive urban areas in the world today.

    In Rome, the group will spend each day visiting historic sites and walking around the city to discuss the architecture of the places visited; the historic roots of each place; current uses; and how the sites visited reflect twenty centuries of the city’s rich history and make a daily contribution to the richness of Roman life. Also, the group will shop at a daily market and prepare a meal to enjoy together.

    The course will visit such places:

    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 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/Pincio

    The Piazza del Popolo is an enormous oval piazza with an Egyptian obelisk at its center and a pair of twin Baroque churches which 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.


    View photos from the previous program!


  • Dates:

    May 9-22, 2013

    Estimated Cost:

    Program Fee: $3,450 

    ODU Tuition$558 for one credit hour during May term.   

    Partial Scholarships are available. Please include a scholarship essay in your application to be considered. 

      Click here to Apply Online!  

    Info Session: Wednesday, Oct. 31st at 1pm in Griff 274

    Can't make it to the session? View the presentation online.


     For more information or if you have questions, please contact Prof. Nancy Recchie or the International Office 


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