Italian Studies


Welcome to Italian Studies!
The Italian Studies program of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures offers a major and a minor.

The program offers a variety of courses, from the elementary to the advanced level. In addition to emphasizing language proficiency, the Italian Division offers interdisciplinary courses, leading students to explore the multiple facets of Italian culture, related to Italy’s vast heritage (in literature, art, music, history and philosophy) and to its present contributions in the world of business, science, and technology. The classroom experience is enriched through the mediation of the Italian Club (Circolo Italiano)  which sponsors a variety of cultural activities, including field trips to points of interest, scholarly lectures, and conversation tables.

Faculty are involved in the Honors Program, and in a joint-program with the University of Urbino, offering students the possibility to spend a summer or a semester abroad. They are also engaged in the active organization of public conferences, events and lectures.

Knowledge of Italian provides access to a rich cultural background, and, at the same time, to a singular perspective on contemporary world. While exploring the master of Western thought (Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio, Machiavelli, Michelangelo, Bernini, Galileo, and Vico to name a few), the encounter with Italian culture provides also a singular reflection on current events, by embodying a unique business model (in fashion, design, and the culinary industry) and a peculiar political perspective on Europe and America.

Click here to read an interview Dr. Luca Cottini gave to the Business International Magazine about American students studying Italian!


2016-2017 Boccaccio Lecture Series:

Boccario Flyer

“Boccaccio and Beauty: Text, Painting, Film," launches Thursday, Oct. 20 with "Boccaccio’s Decameron and the Search for Meaning” featuring Stanford University's David Lummus, PhD. The series will run through February 2017. Each event of the series starts at 5 p.m. in the Idea Accelerator in Falvey Memorial Library.

The complete schedule is as follows:

  • Oct. 20, 2016, “Boccaccio’s Decameron and the Search for Meaning”
    David Lummus, PhD, Stanford University
  • Nov. 2, 2016, “(Im)material Girls: Paradiso 15, Commentaries and Giovanni Villani”
    Kristina Olson, PhD, George Mason University
  • Jan. 30, 2017, “Defending Poetry in Difficult Times: How Boccaccio Can Save the Humanities”
    Martin Eisner, PhD, Duke University
  • Feb. 20, 2017, “The Boccaccio ‘Brand’ in the Cinema: Fellini, De Laurentiis, Pasolini and Woody Allen”
    Millicent Marcus, PhD, Yale University

Fall 2015 Lecture Series:

The Difference Italy Makes Lecture Series Poster

The Difference Italy Makes presents success stories related to the Italian industry and trade, and investigates the cultural model of business made in Italy in the context of an academic debate.  Italian entrepreneurs, CEOs, and managers in the fields of fashion, food, pharmaceutical, and finance, will debate about the difference Italy makes in the global market, the peculiarity of the Italian model, and the culture generated by Italian products.

The Difference Italy Makes Lecture Series Videos:

A Century of Pasta. De Cecco and The Italian Culture of Food

Who is Dante for us moderns? What is Dante’s impact on our culture? Is his vision still relevant today? On the occasion of the celebrations for the 750th anniversary of his birth, the Villanova Italian Program proudly presented a series of lectures dedicated to the great Florentine poet. 

The conference series, which ran from October 2014 to March 2015, aimed at rediscovering Dante in light of our present, and, at the same time, at reading our world through his work.

The four talks touched upon such themes as the relationship between Dante and Saint Augustine (in honor of Villanova’s Augustinian tradition), Dante’s presence in Italian and American cinema (since Mélies’ Inferno of 1911, first using special effects), the relevance of Dante in shaping an idea of Europe (in light of the debate on its Christian roots), and the link between Columbus’ diaries (filled with Dantean imagery) and the New World Project.

Our distinguished speakers were Simone Marchesi (Princeton University), John Welle (University of Notre Dame), Giuseppe Mazzotta (Yale University), and Mary Watt (University of Florida).

The series inaugurated the Villanova Italian Symposium, which was conceived as a laboratory of open dialogue on broad issues related to Italian culture, and as a fruitful occasion to bridge Italian studies not only with other disciplines on campus, but also with other programs in the greater Philadelphia area.

Dante and Augustine? Three Case Studies by Simone Marchesi (Princeton University)

Dante's Europe by Giuseppe Mazzotta (Yale University)

Dante and the Birth of Cinema by John Welle (University of Notre Dame)

Dante and the New World Project by Mary Watt (University of Florida)

Italian Studies Coordinator

Dr. Luca Cottini
St. Augustine Center 339
Dr. Cottini's Webpage

Please visit our Language Lab for audio files and web resources.

Student Organizations

*Italian Honor Society - Gamma Kappa Alpha
*Italian Club - Circolo Italiano

Upcoming Events