Engineering: Architecture & Augustine

Location: Siena & San Gimignano, Italy

Italy will serve as the backdrop for design and devotion, yet again, due to popular demand. Two courses have been developed specifically for this program by David Dinehart, PhD and Fr. Joseph Mostardi, OSA, in order to fully explore Tuscany within the context of architecturally significant structures and the life of St. Augustine.

Students will depart for a one-month adventure of study that will commence at the University of Siena. Students will spend two weeks learning about architecture with local experts and practitioners. The basics of Roman architecture will be introduced and students will tour the many architectural treasures of Siena and conduct a one-day field trip to Pisa. The class will see, first-hand, the styles discussed in the classroom.

The group will transition from Siena to San Gimignano, where they will spend the following two weeks immersed in a learning community with Villanova instructors and Augustinian friars.

San Gimignano is a small, walled medieval hill town in the province of Siena, Tuscany that will serve as our home town on this adventure. It is famous for its medieval architecture, especially its towers, and is home to Sant’Agostino, a 13th century structure, that houses a seventeen panel fresco cycle on the life of St. Augustine around the high altar.


Students are required to enroll in both courses for a total of six credits:

CEE4607: Special Topics in Civil Engineering - Italian Architecture and Engineering

Qualitative and quantitative study of architectural structural systems, including buildings, domes, arches, and towers; historical review of architecturally significant structures, many related to St. Augustine insights of structural analysis, comparative structural types, force flow, and structural and architectural use of building materials. This course is intended for civil engineering students entering their junior or senior year.

This is a three-credit course that can be counted as a technical or free elective. Pre-requisite: Mechanics II, CEE2103 Mechanics of Solids, or equivalent.

THL2790: Augustine and the Tuscan Hermits’ of the Order of St. Augustine

An investigation into fundamental themes in the thought of the 4th century North African Bishop, Augustine of Hippo, and how those themes developed through the centuries. Emphasis will be given to the 13th century Mendicant Movement and the establishment of the Order of the Brothers of the Hermits of St. Augustine. Particular attention will be paid to Augustine’s Monastic Ideal, The Rule of St. Augustine, The Mendicant Movement, The Tuscan Hermits, and Augustine’s influence in contemporary issues of Spirituality.

This is a three-credit course that can be counted as an upper level Theology or free elective. Pre-requisites: THL1000 and ACS1000, or their equivalent.

Coursework will begin via Distance-learning during the week prior to the departure of the program and will proceed through the week. Students will complete the remaining coursework in Italy.

For the time spent in Siena, students will do an indepth study of Italian architecture at the Universitá degli Studi di Siena.

During the time spent in San Gimignano, Dr. Dinehart and Fr. Mostardi will lead the students in Augustinian ritual prayer, readings, discussions, class meetings, and field trips to local communities, including Florence, and Rome.

In Siena, students will stay in housing arranged by our partner, IES Abroad. Apartments will be shared, no meals will be provided during this time though studetns will have kitchen facilities available, and are a short walk from grocery stores and markets.

Specifics to our housing in San Gimignano are currently being determined. Students will stay in a local hotel in shared accommondations. More to be updated in November, 2016.

In Rome, students will stay in shared rooms in a local hotel.


The program will spend the majority of time in Siena and San Gimignano. During this time, students will explore educational day trips to Pisa and Florence. Previous visits included an Augustinian church frequented by Michelangelo, a climb to the top of Brunelleschi's famous dome (both in Florence); a visit to an Augustinian convent in Tuscany and other structures with historic significance to the Order of St. Augustine.

The program concludes with a three-day stay in Rome where students will visit the Pantheon, the Coliseum, the Vatican and St. Peter's tomb, and have Mass with the Pope (based on availabilty).


2018 Program Dates To Be Announced Soon!

Pre-program VU Coursework: May 31 - Friday, June 3, 2016
In-country: June 5 - July 2 , 2016
*Departure USA on June 4
*Tentative, see itinerary, below.


Tuesday, May 31-Friday, June 3: Pre-session, distance learning coursework
June 4: Depart for Italy
June 5: Arrive in Florence, group pick-up, transfer to Siena**See arrival information, below
June 6-June 19: Program in Siena
June 19: Transfer to San Gimignano
Free Weekend
TBA: Excursion to Pisa
June 19-28: Program in San Gimignano
TBA: Excursion to Florence
TBA: Free Weekend
June 28: Transfer to Rome, Rome excursion begins
June 28 - July 1: Coursework in Rome, last day of class on July 1
July 2, 2016: Depart Rome for USA

Arrival in Florence

There will be a group pick for students arriving into into Florence airport (FLR) no later than 1:00PM. IES Abroad will also provide detailed information regarding transportation to the local IES Abroad Center for students who must arrive independently due to travel delays.

Apply Now!


Students who are accepted after March 1 will be required to pay the $450 commitment fee immediately upon acceptance. Deadline to commit to the program (after being accepted) is March 18.  Final payment due May 1, 2018.

Program Costs

2018 Program Fee: $8900
Includes tuition, housing, orientations, various receptions and excursions, airport transfers, and fees.
*Airfare not included

Upon acceptance, student will have 2-weeks to submit a $450 non-refundable commitment fee. Program balance is invoiced directly to the VU student account during the first week of April, with final balance due May 1.

Students interested in financing should first review the OEA Scholarship page. Should there be a need to secure additional funding through loans, Villanova University students should contact the Office of Financial Assistance.

Students with a Federal Pell grant should consider applying for the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship!

San Gimignano, Italy

Program Snapshot

  • Program Duration: 4-weeks
  • Credits: 6
  • 2018 Program Fee: $8900
  • Application

Faculty Coordinator

San Gimignano Italy

Dr. David W. Dinehart
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Tolentine 146