Piazzas, Palazzi, e il Papa: Cinque Cultural Landscapes of Rome (Guest Post by Dr. Stacey Graham)

Stacey Graham is a professor at Middle Tennessee State University, where she has been a staff member at the Center for Historic Preservation since 2007.  Dr. Graham is leading MTSU’s “Cultural Landscapes of the Roman World,” a new program that will be in its first year in 2013.

Rome, capital of the founding empire of the Western world, has witnessed almost three millennia of history.  The stories of Rome – from the days of the Roman Republic, to the establishment of the Catholic Church, to the city’s designation as a World Heritage Site – can be read in its cultural landscapes. Cultural landscapes reveal cultural values through people’s interactions with their environment. Join us as we spend three weeks approaching Rome through its buildings, piazzas, neighborhoods, and more.

Top 5: Cultural Landscapes of Rome

5. Piazza del Campidoglio – Built on the ancient Capitoline Hill and ringed by palaces, this public square combines 16th-century Baroque flair (the stunning travertine pavement design) with Roman imperial artifacts (the famous statue of Marcus Aurelius on horseback).

4. Catacombs – Before the Christian Church was triumphant, it was an underground movement—literally! A myriad of burial chambers and some wonderful examples of early Christian art are preserved within.

3.  Trastevere – The part of the city across the Tiber river (trans Tiberim), this diverse and distinct neighborhood has been occupied by Romans since the earliest days of the Republic in the 5th century B.C.

2.  Vatican City – The seat of popes and the capitol of the Catholic world, Vatican City is a city within a city.  The sober and imposing columns of the Piazza San Pietro guide the visitor into the Basilica di San Pietro (St. Peter’s), a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture and one of the most important churches in the world.

1.  Roman Forum – From Arch of Severus in the west to the Colosseum in the east, a walk through the Roman forum provides an unparalleled education in the role of civic participation.  Mainly in ruins today, the forum still inspires republican pride and western nostalgia.

These fascinating places will be our classroom as we learn how to “read” ancient history and modern identity in cultural landscapes. Experience Pompeii, Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli, the Etruscan necropolis at Cerveteri, incredible food, authentic gelati, and a warm welcoming from Rome’s people and climate. There are still a couple spots left, so join us as we explore one of the world’s most glorious cities!