All students take two 4-credit courses, taught in English as well as one 4-credit Italian Language course, taught in Italian, and two additional 2-credit courses for a total of 16 credits. Language instruction is geared to meet the needs of beginning, intermediate, and advanced students. See below for course descriptions.

Course Descriptions

The Grand Tour

IT 233/AH 226/CLA 223 (2 credits) Instructor: Renato Perucchio


This intensive course is intended to give an introduction to Roman buildings and construction techniques through a multidisciplinary approach. History, architectural expression, structural layout, and construction of ancient buildings will be discussed in order to develop the capacity to look at archaeological remains with a deeper understanding of their physical aspects.

Roman Architecture and Engineering represent one of the most outstanding achievements of past civilizations. Roman architectural expression, structural form, and building technology influenced Western architecture until the inception of Modernity, when a new technology based on the use of steel and reinforced concrete brought radical changes to the structural forms and the loss of a millenary tradition.

Traditional building techniques and structural understanding were perfected over the centuries by means of experimentation, whose successful results were then handed down from generation to generation. Starting from the Greek construction, based on dry masonry and the "post and lintel" structural principle, the Romans developed a revolutionary building technology, which made use of mortared masonry and then pozzolanic concrete, making possible the development of innovative structural forms such as gigantic vaults and domes.

Buildings will be analyzed both for their architectural values but also as the result of a process which took advantage of the available building materials and building technology in a specific historical, political and geographical context.


This is a two-credit course with no pre-requisites. The course is self-contained.


The Grand Tour will take place late in the second half of the program, a final journey of study on location focused on the area of Rome and Naples.

In Rome, Ostia, Naples, Pompeii, Baia, Pozzuoli, and Paestum Roman architecture and engineering and Roman urbanism, and their relationship with the Greek and Hellenistic world will be discussed. The use of mortared rubble and pozzolanic concrete, and the arched and vaulted construction they made possible will be the main focus. The lessons will touch the following topic:

  • Basic notions of statics and structural engineering as related to masonry buildings;
  • building and construction techniques showing how materials were selected and assembled to obtain structures sufficiently resistant to address the architectural programs;
  • civil engineering developments in water management, communication and infrastructures;
  • mechanical engineering used for lifting machines, tooling machines and mechanical components;
  • architectural design of private and public architecture;
  • urban design for city planning.


A crucial component of the course are the on-site visits. The learning strategy is based on developing the skills to understand Greek and Roman construction. Students will have:

  • Class lessons, where the main theoretical questions will be addressed, including an overview of the historical context of the building programs.
  • Field lessons on the archaeological sites where relevant buildings will be selected for each visit.
  • Buildings will be analyzed on site to highlight their location, their architecture and building techniques, the structural layout, the way they were built, and how and why they eventually suffered structural damage. Students will be asked to contribute to the discussion of the topics examined.

Venice Creative Writing Workshop

The Venice Creative Writing Tutorial is dedicated to the intensive study of creative writing. A multi-genre, interdisciplinary, and international program, the tutorial will give undergraduate creative writers the opportunity to study the art of writing in one of the most culturally significant cities in the world. Through concentrated work over two weeks, students will enrich their original writing with explorations of the art and literature inspired by Venice.

Venice offers a living laboratory for the study of imaginative writing. With its culturally diverse history and its persistent singularity, the city has been a favorite subject for poets, novelists, filmmakers, and playwrights for centuries. As a mercantile center for thousands of years, Venice is an ideal location for students to gather and explore how language itself offers its own kind of trade in ideas and artistic expression.

The advanced creative writing tutorial gives University of Rochester undergraduates the chance to work in a small faculty-directed and student-centered group setting on their literary and creative interests to further the development of their original writing and receive intensive instruction. The tutorial allows students, under close faculty supervision, to design and pursue individualized creative projects specific to their interests, in the genre of their choice (fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, playwriting). Students will meet regularly both in a workshop setting and in small tutorial groups. Critiques of original work by students will be complemented with the study of relevant literature, art, and history.

The tutorial will fulfill the requirement for a 200-level workshop for students pursuing a major, minor, or cluster in English: Creative Writing.

The whole group will meet daily to explore topics of general interest as they relate to the reading or writing assignments. Discussions will be enriched with walking tours through the city, museum and gallery visits, and visiting speakers. In addition, students will meet regularly in instructor-supervised, small-group tutorials focused on the genre of their choice, where their work-in-progress will be read and critiqued. Students will share their final projects with the whole class in formal presentations at the end of the program.

Tutorials will carry the normal four credit hours. The balance of class meetings and individual tutorial conferences per week will meet the instructional time comparable to other 4-credit courses.

Narrative Documentary Filmmaking

IT 228/HIS 233/CLT 207C (4 credits) Instructor: Federico Siniscalco

Filmmaker Albert Maysles, a founding father of American Direct Cinema, maintained that making documentary films is a way of helping to create a better world. According to Maysles, documentary allows people of different cultures to come to know one another on a deeper level and helps to avoid misunderstanding that often degenerates in conflict, intolerance and violence. Today, thanks to the digital revolution, filming is widely available (many successful documentaries have been produced with nothing more than a simple smart phone). The abundance of technology, however, is not enough to guarantee successful outcomes. Most casual video making is often of little value and usually of interest only to the people directly involved with it. Acquiring a basic grammar of the moving image can make the difference.

The English 19th Century art critic John Ruskin would say that only when one sketches an artwork does he or she really see and understand it. Today we can substitute a video camera for the pencil and notepad. Creating a documentary film will enable the students to see and understand Italy and its culture in a unique way.

The course aims to introduce students to the history of the documentary film and to some major issues in intercultural communication as well as offer hands-on experience in documentary film production. In the historical survey of the special emphasis will be given to Italian documentaries; this will enable the students to become acquainted with certain aspect of contemporary Italy as they have been represented by documentary filmmakers.

In the production segment of the course, students will be engaged in producing short documentaries on some aspects of the culture surrounding them, such as the Aretine antiques fair, or the worshiping of the Madonna del Conforto, as seen from the point of view of a foreigner visiting the city. Throughout the three phases of documentary filmmaking (pre-production, production, and post-production) a strong interaction
with local residents will be encouraged. At the end of the semester there will be a final general screening of the films.

The documentary filmmaking technique which the students will be adopting is inspired by American Direct Cinema, which believed in a non-invasive, minimalistic, observational approach to filming: no extra lights, no tripods, small unobtrusive cameras, no re-enactments. For this reason students are encouraged to bring their own equipment, which can be as minimalist as a smartphone. Some editing basics will be illustrated on the Premiere Pro editing software; however, students may edit their film with their favorite editing software.

Italian Language: Elementary Italian / Accelerated Italian

IT 111 (4 Credits) / IT 153 (4 Credits)


The teaching method used is based on a communicative approach. You will be working in groups, pairs, and individually. Students are encouraged to:

  • Share responsibility for their own learning
  • Show respect for one another, the teacher and other staff
  • Participate actively in class and respond positively to the challenge of language learning

Learning is based on co-operation with fellow students. Classes will be conducted in Italian in order to help students think and react in Italian.

Comprehension: Students will gain understanding of oral and written material on a variety of topics, ranging from standard phrases (questions, commands, and courtesy formulae) to include increasingly elaborate topics such as personal routine, taste and hobbies, family, fashion and cinema. Students will be able to acquire key information in the listening and reading of authentic material describing present and past events, presented clearly and supported by pertinent vocabulary. Their understanding will grow to include standard Italian conversations, presented in a clearly audible (and occasionally slowed) speech, in a variety of familiar subjects.

Production and interaction: Students will be able to engage in conversations on a variety of real-life situations regarding familiar subjects, to respond to open-ended questions and initiate communication on these topics. They will be able to give and follow directions, instructions and commands. Students will be able to debate in small groups on a specific topic. Skills in mono-directional oral presentation will also increase. Writing skills will focus on both present and past events, personal experiences, school and work situations, as well as brief messages.

Linguistic structures: Subject and object pronouns, articles, adjectives, present indicative and imperative, irregular and reflexive verbs. The passato prossimo and imperfetto, passato remoto, trapassato remoto and trapassato remoto as well as future semplice and future anteriore tenses will be covered, allowing students to expand their grammatical knowledge acquired in their previous studies.

Culture through Community-based Learning

IT 150 (2 credits) Instructor: Donna Logan

Living and studying for a semester in a foreign country, in a foreign language, far from the comforts and services of the home campus can prove to be remarkably challenging to the undergraduate student. Without active cultural mediation, a student may find themselves feeling alienated in an unfamiliar setting. That feeling can influence and hinder the students’ abilities to understand their host culture and reap the benefits of their study abroad experience.

This 2-credit course aims at guiding the student through the differences of life in a small, Tuscan city from that at the UR campus. Pre-program activities and reading assignments are made two-months prior to arriving in Italy in preparation of each individual ‘journey.’ Students are encouraged to keep journals and are required to attend regularly scheduled meetings as well as travel together to places of interest. These afford opportunities to share experiences that form integral elements in our on-going discussions on cultural differences. An initial focus on non-verbal cultural cues that are dissimilar to those in the US is followed and developed into learning how to travel and visit cultural centers as the educated traveler and not the consuming tourist.