Italian Art, History, Religion and Culture in Siena, Italy

Location: Siena, Italy - Villanova University & the Universitá degli Studi di Siena


Trip Dates: May 20 - June 29, 2014
*Departure from USA on May 19
Orientation Dates: TBD


The purpose of this program is to introduce students to Italy's history, art, religion and society, with particular emphasis on the Renaissance. Courses are taught by faculty from Villanova University and by Italian instructors from the Università degli Studi di Siena. All courses are designed to complement a variety of majors and can be used to satisfy core requirements. Villanova will be working with the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES), who has an institute, facilities, and staff in Siena.

Additional Academic Requirements

No language proficiency required. All courses taught in English. Minimum 3.0/4.0 GPA required for admission into program.

Course Offerings

Courses fill on a rolling basis. If there is a course you would like or need to take, please ensure that you apply early. Please note that you cannot take a course which you have already taken at Villanova. Students choose 2 of the following courses for a total of 6 credits:

AAH 2002 - Renaissance Art - Cancelled for 2014
New trends and forms in European Art from 1300 to 1600; an examination of leading artists, their lives and works: Giotto, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, among others.  3 credits

AAH 2008 The Renaissance City
Examination of the different meanings attached to the past in Siena and how this relationship between past and present has been represented in art, architecture, and ritual. Analysis of images, buildings, and written texts, exploring how language, literature, society, art, religion, and politics come together in Siena, resulting in distinct past (and present) identities. Examination of the city’s origins, history, and artistic styles.  3 credits

New Course for 2014
AAH 3009 - Renaissance Art

Introduction to Renaissance Art in Tuscany by exploring the historical, political and cultural evolution of Siena between the 13th and the early 16th centuries. Attention to social and patronage issues - i.e., the role of the guilds, the differences in private, civic and church patronage. Includes field trips to museums and churches in Siena.  3 credits

New Course for 2014
THL 2780 Christianity in History
The emergence, growth and transformation of Christianity from its origins in the eastern Mediterranean to its worldwide expansion. Role of Christian doctrinal and institutional developments in the emergence of Western societies. Ways in which Christian symbolism and ritual have shaped the lives of ordinary Christians.  3 credits

New Course for 2014
THL 2795 Ritual, Magic and Religion in Italy

Religion in the Italian peninsula from Roman times to the contemporary period. Centrality of Catholicism in Italian history. Role of Catholic belief, ritual and symbolism in Italian everyday life. Institutional, popular and heterodox forms of Italian Christianity. 3 credits

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences students:

  • For all students, Art History courses satisfy the Fine Arts requirement in the Core Curriculum or a free elective.
  • HIS majors receive credit from the History Department for the required Art History course.
  • For all students, THL/RST courses count as Advanced Theology course in the Core Curriculum or as a free elective.
  • THL/RST minors and majors receive credit from the Theology/Religious Studies Department for elective courses.
  • AAH 2008, AAH 3009 and THL 2795 qualify for a Cultural Studies attribute
  • THL 2795 can serve as an elective for GIS majors

College of Nursing students:

  • THL/RST courses count as Advanced Theology course in the Core Curriculum or as a free elective.
  • Art History courses can be used as free electives.
  • AAH 2008, AAH 3009 and THL 2795 qualify for a Cultural Studies attribute

College of Engineering students:

  • THL/RST courses count as Advanced Theology course in the Core Curriculum or as non-technical electives.
  • Art History courses satisfy a non-technical elective.
  • AAH 2008, AAH 3009 and THL 2795 qualify for a Cultural Studies attribute

Villanova School of Business students:

  • THL/RST courses count as Advanced Theology course in the Core Curriculum or as a free elective.
  • Art HIS courses can be used for the Humanities requirement or as free electives. 
  • AAH 2008, AAH 3009 and THL 2795 qualify for a Cultural Studies attribute

Arrival and Excursions

Students traveling on the optional group flight will travel by bus from Rome to Siena. Alternate travel information to Siena will be given to students who arrive independently of the group.

Upon arrival in Siena, students will have an orientation which will cover health and safety, culture, and living in Siena. The orientation will include a walking tour of Siena to familiarize students with their new home. Additionally, information will be available to students concerning other cultural activities in and around Siena.

Students will spend day trips in Florence and Assisi. In Florence, entrance fees to the Accademia and Uffizi are included; in Assisi, admission to the Basilica of San Francesco is included. Meals are not included in day trips to Florence and Assisis.

Students will also travel by bus to Venice for two nights. Accommodations and are included in the excursion. Admission to the following sites is included: Correr Museum, Archaeological Museum, Marciana National library, Ca' Rezzonico, Goldoni's house, Mocenigo Palace museum, Glass Museum in Murano, Ca' Pesaro, Lace Museum, Doge's Palace. Meals not included.

Finally, at the end of the program students will travel by bus and spend three nights in Rome. Sites include the Forum, Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, Vatican and Vatican Museum, Basilica of San Clemente, Coelian villas, Baths of Caracalla,  In Rome, students will take a guided tour of the historic center of Rome. A farewell dinner will conclude the program. Transportation to the airport for the return group flight and will be provided.


The group will fly from JFK to Rome and be transferred to Siena by bus. All surface transfers in Italy will occur by private, air-conditioned buses from the group's point of arrival in Italy to the group's point of departure for the United States. Flight Arrangements are made directly by the students through a travel agent designated by Villanova University. Other flight arrangements can be made, provided that students arrive in Siena by the first day of classes.

Cell Phones

All students must have cell phones that function in Italy. American cell phones normally do not. Program participants can lease mobile phones through PicCell. Information about PicCell will be distributed in the spring. Information is also available at

Itinerary 2014

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Monday, May 19

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Group Flight, Departs USA

Arrive Rome, transfer to Siena, Program Begins

Program ends, Group Flight, Depart Rome for USA

NOTICE: Villanova University reserve the right to modify or cancel the program if circumstances warrant.


Faculty Program Coordinator

image of Siena

Dr. Gustavo Benavides
Department of Theology/Religious Studies
St. Augustine Center 241
800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085


Application may be found on the Forms site

Application Deadline for the Siena program is February 15, 2014 and is based on rolling admissions.

Payment Information

Applications are due no later than February 15, 2014; the non-refundable commitment fee of $450 is due upon receipt of acceptance letter. Final payment due prior to the departure of program.

Total: $5,850 Includes tuition, housing, orientations, various receptions and excursions, airport transfers, and fees. All programs will have a $15 VU fee added at time of billing.


Housing & Meals

In Siena, students live in apartments located in the medieval city of Siena.
Meals are the responsibility of the student. The student apartments have kitchens, local grocery stores and restaurants are within easy walking distance of apartments. Students will also be able to eat in the University dining halls.

Students will have access to the library located at the Institute for the International Education of Students' center. The library has wireless internet available for students who bring laptop computers. Students also have access to University libraries.

In Venice and Rome, students will stay in hotels.