Underground Rome

May 12 – 26
3 Art History Credits
Course Number: IPD-3404-A
Tuition : $4,000

Faculty: Catherine Esposito

Historically, Rome has been considered a center for personal and artistic transformation.  Beginning in the 18th century, studying abroad in what was known as the Grand Tour was seen as the culmination of one’s educational and personal growth, and Rome was by far the most important city to visit for young artists.

Over three centuries later, Rome continues to maintain its grasp on students of the arts.  What is so intriguing about this city are its layers: in no other place can you find ancient ruins sitting side-by-side medieval structures, Renaissance palaces, Baroque churches, and modern street art.

In this two-week program, we will explore the layers of Rome, with special attention to Rome’s most hidden layer: the underground.  Following in the footsteps of the 18th century Grand Tourists, participants will travel below the modern city to explore some of Rome’s oldest and most hidden sites.

In the second part of the program, we will examine our own role as modern Grand Tourists in Rome. This will focus on a more figurative interpretation of the underground by exploring Rome’s unconventional and marginalized art scene, and will include visits to residential areas to discover contemporary street art.

In addition to visiting some of the most well known sites in the world, this program offers a unique opportunity for self-reflection: by sketching, journaling, taking photographs and collecting souvenirs and found objects, we will consider how this city remains Eternal in all its layers and the impact it has on all of us, both personally and artistically.


Attendance and Participation          20%

Journal Entries                               30%

Final project/presentation               50%


Journal Entries: There will be three journal entries due during this two-week program.  These entries require you to visit a site on your own, write a short reflection on your observations, and include a sketch.  For each location, you will receive a handout, which includes some information about the site and some questions to help you engage with the work of art or monument.

Final project: For your final project you will be asked to give a presentation focusing on a particular site or work of art in Rome, comparing its historical relevance to that of today, opening up a broader discussion on the eternal nature of Rome.

Choose one monument, work of art, or archeological site in Rome that you have seen or visited during these two weeks.  Discuss this work of art and its historical impact: How was it originally viewed?  What was its significance?  Then, discuss this work of art in its modern day context.  Spend some time watching how people engage and interact with this work or site.  Include a sketch, a brief interview with a tourist, or even a modern interpretation of this work to gain perspective.  In what ways has this site changed?  What has remained the same?


For more information, please contact Paloma Crousillat at [email protected].