Picture if you will, a university course that offers the opportunity to study the politics of the Borgia family in Rome, or the musings of Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio in Florence and the lives of the renaissance artists who left traces of their genius across Italy.
Such a course is in itself an insight into the wonders of renaissance Italy.
Imagine, then, studying this course in situ amidst the cultural treasures and historical sites of Italy. Imagine, for example, taking a morning class on Masaccio’s early attempts at the art of perspective, then spending that same afternoon observing his frescoes in the churches and basilicas where he worked.
Or imagine learning about the controversy surrounding the teachings of Galileo Galilei then visiting the museum that houses his relics or his home where he composed his works.
Alternatively, consider a course where you not only study the grammar and rhetoric of great ancient Roman writings in their original Latin, but also stand in the spaces where such works were written, orated, and heard for the first time.
For example, study Cicero’s speeches in their original Latin then wander into the ruins of the forum where he delivered those very speeches.
What a way to witness the relations between language and power in the historical public spaces of Imperial Rome!
This is the opportunity that awaits students enrolled in the Rome School in 2018 run by Campion College Australia.
The program will run for sixteen days, from the 2nd to the 17th of July. We will begin with one week in Rome, accommodated at St John’s University Rome Campus, just a short stroll away from the Vatican.
Students will then spend four days visiting the museums and historical sites of Florence before returning to Rome – with possible stopovers in Assisi and Sienna – to complete the subject.
In Rome we will be visiting, among other places, the Colosseum, Vatican Acropolis, and the archaeological parks of Via Ostia and Via Appia.
This is the third time this program has been organised.
Talk to students to have enrolled in Campion’s previous Rome Schools and they will all report on a unique experience: from a regular morning caffè at local Roman bars to the delicious dinner options, they acquired a culinary and cultural taste of Italy; from lessons on politics of the Augustan age to classes on the subjunctive tense in Latin, they also strengthened their appreciation of Western culture and thought; and finally from tours of the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Vatican Museums, they brought their lessons to life and enriched their own lives exponentially.
They all report returning to Australia with an expanded view of the world and a rich appreciation of their culture and history. What they experienced in Italy broadened their perspectives on life.
This mirrors my own experience when, as an 18-year-old straight out of school, I had the opportunity to travel with a group to Paris, Milan, Florence and Rome.
While I saw this as an opportunity to explore my family roots in northern Italy, I had the typical bravado of a reasonably intelligent teenager who thinks he already knows everything about the world.
In fact, my first impression of Florence viewed from the bus was of crowded, unattractive, narrow streets with little to offer an ambitious Australian teenager. That attitude soon changed and I remember the precise moment of transformation: admiring the Holy Trinity fresco by Masaccio painted in the early fifteenth century in the Dominican church of Santa Maria Novella.
This striking early example of perspective, with all its colour, realism and drama, shook me out of my youthful arrogance and granted me an appreciation of a skill perfected a long time ago in a context far removed from my own, yet inextricably linked to my culture.
Such life-changing experiences and lessons cannot be obtained from books and lectures alone.
The 2018 course promises similar experiences and outcomes and is open to interested people of all ages and backgrounds, including students from any Australian universities hoping to take either of the subjects on offer for credit towards their degree.
Reduced tuition fees apply for those interested in not taking the course for credit and financial assistance is available.
For more information and to register your interest, visit: www.campion.edu.au/rome-summer-school/
Dr Luciano Bischiero is Dean of Studies and Director of Operations for Campion College Sydney