This course will be taught in English.
The course focuses on a few accomplishments of the Italian genius that have had a strong impact on the development of world civilization. Italy as a nation did not exist either when the city of Cremona produced the first violins, or when Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel. There was no Italy as such when Dante was imagining his “Italia,” nor when Da Vinci painted La gioconda. The nation had existed only for twenty years when Carlo Collodi set out to write Pinocchio in 1881 — not all Italian children could understand his language. Yet, for centuries the world had had no doubt about who and what was Italian.
We will explore the lives and works of figures recognized and acclaimed world wide, and the Italy(ies) they lived in; particular attention will be given to the Renaissance. The following is only a short list of the personalities with whom we will get acquainted: Dante and Boccaccio (literature), Monteverdi (music), Brunelleschi (architecture), Leonardo Da Vinci (arts and sciences), Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Catherine of Siena (religious activism), Saint Thomas Aquinae (philosophy), The Medici family (artistic patronage and the banking system in the Renaissance), Federico Fellini (film), Dario Fo (Nobel for literature), Maria Montessori (pedagogy), Rita Levi-Montalcini (Nobel for medicine).