students in the lab

On Location: Rome

Italian History, Art, Architecture, Language and Culture

Application opens December 3 for Summer 2020

On Location programs are immersive and rigorous academic experiences. Program sites are carefully selected to enhance course content. The connection between site and course content offers students a rich experiential learning experience. The programs’ interdisciplinary approach help prepare students for the increasingly complex challenges of the 21st century by exploring the interconnectedness of the global community and exposing students to varied perspectives.

The On Location: Rome program, in affiliation with the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies (the Centro), explores Roman life and culture through a wide range of disciplines – archeology, history, literature, language, and the arts.

Areas of Focus

  • Italian language
  • Roman history and culture
  • Roman topography

Course of Study

Students in the Rome program enroll in two courses:

Immersive Italian

Why learn Italian only in the classroom when you're in Italy? The city of Rome will be our classroom as we take our course out onto the street for a unique and immersive learning experience. Students learn Italian organically, by hearing, reading, and speaking the language in a fun and low-pressure environment. Ordering cappuccino and gelato, as well as a scavenger hunt in the Monteverde neighborhood of Rome, will be part of coursework. Authentic communicative activities and dynamic language exercises abound as students are encouraged to make use of elementary Italian. The Immersive Italian instructor has over 20 years experience in dynamic language teaching.

Making of an Eternal City

Rome, the Eternal City, has been constantly inhabited from the 8th century BC to the present, thus making it one of the richest and most stratified living human settlement. This class explores Rome’s topography and its evolving relationship with power and society. To this end, the students are going to visit specific sites all around the city and analyze their connections to institutions and people, and evaluate their importance in the formation of Rome’s distinctive identity.

The course is divided into two modules, one per week. The first module, “Empire, Imperialism and Rome”, addresses the question of how power can impact, build and reshape a city. The students will visit ancient sites, such as the Roman Forum and the Colosseum, but also St. Peter’s Square and the modern EUR neighborhood, whose construction was promoted by Mussolini. What message do these building send to the city’s inhabitants, its visitors and even future generations?

The second module is called “Beyond Bread and Circuses” and addresses the question what does an urban society need to function? The students will learn about Roman aqueducts (which bring water for the city’s many fountains to this day!), city walls, religious buildings and temples, and lastly, the catacombs. These practical, religious or civic institutions are fundamental for every human settlement and the students are challenged to think about how their own nation, city or neighborhood has resolved to deal with them.

Overall, the course provides an introduction to Rome’s topography and landscape of power, but also allows students to reflect on how institutions and individuals express power through buildings today.

2019 Dates & Fees:

Two Week Session: June 23 - July 6, 2019

Eligibility: For students completing grades 10-12, ages 16-18 by June 2019

Language of Instruction: English and Italian

Passport/Visa Requirement: A passport is required. US and EU citizens do not require a visa.

Fees: $6,246

Important Deadlines

This program has reached capacity and is no longer accepting applications.

Program Confirmation: On or before April 17, 2019

*NOTE: Do not book your flights or purchase plane tickets until you receive an email from Brown confirming the program

Program Forms & Flight Information Deadline: May 22, 2019

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Onsite Learning
Witness Mount Vesuvius in the distance as you walk through the ruins of Pompeii.

A Typical Day

Morning Breakfast
Italian Language
Afternoon Lunch
Making of an Eternal City
Site Visits
Evening Dinner
Study Hall
Community Building
11:00pm Curfew

The schedule is thoughtfully designed to ensure students are engaged in the Italian language and culture, and building community.

This is a physically active program. Students will spend most of their time at site visits and will walk between 5 and 15 miles per day.

Site Visits

Colosseum: Do you know the expression “bread and circuses”? The Colosseum IS the circus! We shall visit this breathtaking amphitheater and explore its rich history.

Imperial Forum: Walk where the Romans walked every day to run errands from shopping to keeping up the current events: the heart of ancient Rome as designed by his first emperor.

EUR Neighborhood: Chosen by Mussolini as the new vibrant center of Rome, this residential neighborhood features the unique aesthetic of the fascist era.

Saint Peter Basilica: One of the finest churches of Rome, this Renaissance complex dominates the city’s skyline with its large dome and double colonnade that encompasses the large piazza.

Palatine’s Hill: Visit the ruins of the palace of Augustus, the first emperor, and admire the beautiful wall paintings, learning about the different styles and painting techniques.

Tivoli: Day trip to one of the most beautiful towns outside Rome, which features the Renaissance Palazzo d’Este, beautiful gardens and the Roman ruins of Hadrian’s Villa.

Beach Day at Ostia: On Sunday do what the Romans do: take the train down to Ostia and enjoy the day at the beach.

Rome’s Fountains: Walk through Rome and visit some of its most iconic fountains, exploring and understanding the (still working!) Roman aqueduct system.

Isola Sacra: One of the most well preserved Roman sites, the funerary grounds of Isola Sacra, near Ostia, are an exceptional testimony of how the Romans experienced life and death.

Temples at Largo Argentina: Visit to the manubial temples at Largo Argentina, in the heart of Rome, and discover their fascinating history.

Livia’s Columbarium: Explore the underground burial site for the working staff of Livia Drusilla, the first empress, in a unique visit to one of Rome’s best kept secrets.

Students in Rome stand on the ruins of the Temple in Ostia Antica
Students on the steps of the ancient Temple in Ostia Antica.

Residential and Student Life

Located in the quaint Monteverde Vecchio neighborhood, the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies (the Centro) is the academic and residential center of the program. The Centro is situated on one of the main streets of the Janiculum, near shops and cafés, and only minutes from the Piazza Venezia, Vatican City, and downtown Rome.

The Centro houses classrooms, a library, a dining room, a kitchen and residential rooms. Students reside in shared double rooms with communal bathrooms. Amenities include: air-conditioned classrooms, linens (sheets, pillow, blanket, towels), laundry room, and Wi-Fi throughout the building.

During the week, breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served in the dining hall at the students’ residence. On the weekend trip, students reside in a hotel with their Residential Assistants and the On-Site Director. Breakfast will be at the hotel. Lunch and dinners will be at local eateries.

The On-Site Director and Residential Assistants reside in the residence hall with students, providing an atmosphere that supports student success by emphasizing community building and individual responsibility.

Your program fee includes:

  • Tuition fee for all courses
  • Residence hall and hotel accommodations during the program
  • All meals
  • Site visits as described in the program description
  • Transfer from/to airport on day of arrival and departure

Not included in Program Fee:

  • Air travel to/from Rome, Italy
  • Items of a personal nature
Students gathered to hear an on-site lecture.
Students gather to hear an on-site lecture in the Colosseum.

Faculty and Staff

Gaia Gianni is a PhD candidate in the Classics department at Brown. Her research focuses on the Roman family, epigraphy and social history. Gaia grew up in Tuscany, Italy. She received her BA (2011) and MA (2013) from the University of Siena, Italy. She also studied at the University College London (2010) as part of the European Erasmus Exchange Program.

Ashley Patton is an art history PhD student at the University of Minnesota, where she studies and teaches Italian Renaissance and Baroque art. Her research focuses on the interior decorations of Catholic churches in Rome, with a particular emphasis on sculpted altarpieces. She studied abroad in Rome as an undergraduate student in 2011, and she regularly returns to the city every summer to conduct research for various fellowships and academic projects. This is her fifth summer with Brown University’s On Location: Rome program.

Jose Paix is a trained architect living in San Francisco. He graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) with a bachelor degree in Fine Arts and a professional degree in architecture. He is currently a lead designer at Autodesk, one of the most innovative companies in design software. Parallel to his design career, Jose has cultivated vast experience in student mentorship and leadership. Jose has been a staff at Brown Pre-College Summer Programs for 9 summers.

Rachel Toncelli has been teaching about language and culture for over 20 years. Her teaching career started in Italy many years ago and she is currently Assistant Professor at Rhode Island College, where she works both in the Department of Educational Studies for the M.Ed. in Teaching English as a Second Language Program and in the Department of Modern Languages where she is an adjunct instructor of Italian. Rachel is currently pursuing her doctorate at Northeastern University.

Rosario Navarro

About the Program Director: Rosario Navarro

Director, Location-Based Programs

Received her B.A. in Elementary Education from Lesley University, M.Ed. from Boston College in Educational Leadership K-12, and doctoral coursework in Adult Learning and Development at Lesley University. Rosario began her professional experience in higher education administration as a student affairs professional. She has been at Brown for over twelve years and currently oversees the pre-college courses for English language learners and On Location programs.

Ancient ruins in Rome.

How to Apply

Application opens December 3 for Summer 2020

Admission Criteria

Prospective students must apply for admission. When evaluating applications, the admissions team looks for academic excellence, intellectual curiosity, social maturity, self-motivation and a readiness for participation in an independent academic environment.

A Complete Application Consists of the Following Items:

  1. A Completed Application Form
    Parents and Students: Please be sure to create only one account per applicant.
    Your application provides basic information about you. In addition, students should be prepared to write an essay. Although the essay prompt may differ depending on the program you apply to, in general, you should be prepared to tell us:
    • what you hope to learn in the program to which you are applying and why that program is of interest to you;
    • what areas of study you are interested in;
    • what contributions you hope to make in and outside of the classroom;
    • and any further information you want to convey to us.
  2. A Non-refundable Application Fee (payable securely by credit card within the Student Portal)
    One application fee per application submitted
    • Before 3/1/2019: $50
    • 3/1/2019 to 4/29/2019: $75
    • 4/30/2019 and after: $100
  3. An Academic Transcript or Grade Report

    Academic records must be submitted in the application form by the applicant. They do NOT need to be submitted by your school guidance counselor. Applicants must submit grades from the 2018-2019 academic term and at least two previous academic years. Acceptable attachments include, but are not limited to:

    • Progress reports;
    • Report cards;
    • Narrative assessments; and/or
    • Unofficial transcripts.

    Documentation must include your full name and the academic term(s) represented. Please also be sure an explanation of the grading scale used by your school(s) (i.e., A = Excellent, 5 = Average, etc.,) appears on the documents, or provide one for us, along with an English translation as appropriate.

  4. A Teacher Recommendation
    Within the application, applicants must submit the name and email address of a teacher who can attest to the applicant’s capabilities in a classroom setting. An email will be sent to the recommender to provide feedback to the admissions team.

Please note:

  • In some cases, additional application materials may be requested. Additional materials may include transcripts, essays, or teacher recommendations.
  • Applications will not be reviewed by the Admission Review Committee until they are complete.
  • Program admission does not guarantee enrollment in a specific course.
  • Courses may be cancelled at any time due to unforeseen circumstance.
  • Please wait to make travel arrangements until the program is confirmed.

Notification of Admission Decision

Applicants will be notified by email to log into their Student Portal to view their admission decision once it has been made. Our admissions team carefully reviews each application submitted. In most cases, admission decisions are made within 10 business days of receiving a complete application; however, during high volume times, it may take up to 15 business days.

Confirming Attendance with a Program Deposit

Accepted students must confirm their attendance by submitting a $300 non-refundable program deposit. Students attending more than one program must submit a $300 non-refundable deposit for each program. Students will not be able to enroll in courses until a program deposit is received.


Student and parents are encouraged to review our Policies page to learn about important payment deadlines, refunds, code of conduct, and more.

Important Information for International Students

Brown University Pre-College programs welcome applications from international students. Learn about English language proficiency requirements, Immigration Guidelines, Deadlines for Submitting Documentation, How to Apply for a Visa, and more on our International Students page.

For Pre-Baccalaureate Students: Please note that we must receive your completed application, including your teacher recommendation, by April 15th, in order to ensure sufficient time to review your application, and, if admitted, process I-20 materials. If you currently hold valid F-1 status, or are Canadian, you may be still eligible to participate in the program. Please email for more information.

Rome Cityscape
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