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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Italian Architecture Through the Ages

Weekend All-Day Lecture/Seminar

Saturday, November 13, 2021 - 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0134
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$80 - Member
$90 - Non-Member
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The Roman Pantheon

Understanding Italian architecture is understanding Western Civilization. No country has produced such an extraordinary number of iconic architectural monuments over a period of two millennia as has Italy. In many instances, these monuments reflect and define the historical periods in which they were created. Rocky Ruggiero, a specialist in the Early Renaissance, traces the evolution of Italian architecture from its ancient Roman origins through the Middle Ages, and concludes with the breathtaking theatrics of Baroque architecture. 

10–11 a.m.   The Architectural Marvels of Imperial Rome

Examine several of Rome’s most recognizable structures, including the Colosseum, the mother of all amphitheaters; the Pantheon, the ancient temple that has been described as the most perfectly designed architectural monument in history; and the triumphal Arch of Constantine, which marks the rise of Christianity.

11:15 a.m.– 12:15 p.m.  Tuscan Romanesque Architecture

Explore three of medieval Europe’s most celebrated Romanesque churches. Consecrated in 1018 A.D., San Miniato al Monte, in Florence, houses an eclectic mix of artistic styles within its distinctly mysterious and mystical atmosphere. Florence Baptistry has long been the heart of Florentine society and tradition. Pisa’s majestic marble cathedral and its elegant circular baptistry are among the Middle Ages’ greatest architectural achievements.

12:15–1:15 p.m.  Break

1:15–2:30 p.m.  Gothic Architecture in Florence and Siena

The cathedral of Siena, a century in the making, is one of Italy’s most successful and beautiful expressions of Gothic architecture. The opulently decorated church reflects the city’s dedication to the Virgin Mary and is a symbol of its civic pride. The magnificent Florence Cathedral, consecrated in 1436, required nearly six generations to complete. It remained for more than two centuries the largest church in Christendom. 

2:45–4 p.m.  Renaissance and Baroque Architecture in Florence and Rome

Filippo Brunelleschi was the first architect to revive the Classical language of building in the 15th century. Soon architects like Bramante and Michelangelo followed suit, adding  a new structural and sculptural dimension to their designs. In the 17th century, architects such as Bernini and Borromini added a more dramatic, theatrical dimension to their work as Italian architecture, freed from its restrained early Renaissance beginnings, underwent an explosive Baroque transformation.

Ruggiero, who divides his time between Italy and the United States, has lectured on Italian art and architecture for American university programs in Italy for the past 20 years, including those of Syracuse, Kent State, Vanderbilt, and Boston College.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1 credit*

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*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.

This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.