Location-Based: Rome

Italian History, Art, Architecture, Language and Culture

Location-Based 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 Location-Based: 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.

Learn for the sake of learning

The Location-Based Programs provide challenging academic opportunities without the pressure of formal grades, allowing students to concentrate on learning, and the process of scholarship and discovery. In lieu of a final grade, students will receive a Course Performance Report and Certificate of Completion after successful completion of the program.

2020 Program Dates

June 28 - July 11


For students completing grades 10-12, ages 16-18 by June 2020.

Information Sessions

magnifying glass Courses

Jump to...

A Typical Day

Morning Breakfast
Italian Language
Afternoon Lunch
Making of an Eternal City
Site Visits
Evening Dinner
Study Hall
Community Building

The schedule is designed to ensure students are engaged and immersed in the Italian language and culture.

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, at times in extreme hot weather.

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.

Forum of Augustus light show: 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. Enjoy a vivid light show that gives viewers a sense of what the buildings looked like in antiquity."; then add the following two sites: San Clemente: Explore the "layers" of Rome in the Basilica of S. Clemente, an 11th century church among the most beautiful in Rome.

Domus Romane: Through a mixture of archaeological remains and virtual reality, the ancient Domus Romane ("Roman Houses"), under Rome's Palazzo Valentini, provide visitors with a riveting experience of what everyday life was like in Imperial Rome.

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
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.

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.

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.

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 in the Department of Educational Studies for the TESOL Program and the Department of Modern Languages where she is an instructor of Italian. Rachel is currently pursuing her doctorate at Northeastern University. This is her fourth summer with Brown University's location-based program in Rome

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 fourteen years and oversees the location-based programs.

Rome Cityscape
Back to Top