There is no city like Rome in the world– don’t get me started- that offers so much to so many disciplines spanning so many time periods, during which the city was either capital of an empire or center of a major religion. In both cases, both “empires” that form layer upon city to constitute the city’s rich fabric influenced western civilization is so many ways. What was left behind, from ancient (Testaccio) and medieval garbage dumps (e.g. Montecitorio) to hulking ruinous palatial structures that encompass the entirety of the Palatine hill, in turn covered by Renaissance gardens and vineyards, is a testament to the greatness of Rome.
Today, beyond the classics and study of the history of art and architecture, what does Rome offer? Plenty- a veritable feast for the eyes of the student of graphic design, media/ communications, journalism (travel, politics, culture), studio art, architecture-landscape-urban design, religious studies, anthropology, geology/ volcanology (think about it, the hills of Rome are the accumulation of ash dumped by volcanic eruptions of times past). Students that study in Rome at the American Institute for Roman Culture do not just confront collections and see the sites but also, thanks for AIRC’s vast and varied connections and relationships with city and national authorities (e.g. Ministry of Culture, superintendencies) entry into a world of one-of-a-kind experiences, meeting with experts, seeing their projects, and participating. That is what we do best; that is why I am here. A quick example is filming history– a fantastic way to engage culture. Another is writing about Rome, but only after gaining access to a site being inaugurated or speaking with some of the top Italian and foreign journalists that reside here. That’s the difference, not to mention our ongoing AIRC excavation, conservation project, annual conference in cultural heritage, and video production, all of which create a web of related experiences for students in love with Rome, Italian culture, and engaging the past in the contemporary city.
The list goes on. What we’ve done in our new programs at the American Institute for Roman Culture is promote and foster experiences in Rome’s rich heritage culture that allow study abroad students dig deeper– engaging the past for their own contemporary endeavors. In colloquial Latin, film, journalism, ancient Rome and its art and architecture, or for those with advanced background in classics, pushing the limits on a more in-depth level. Or even allowing you to roll up your sleeves and excavate with us at Ostia Antica (with limited intervention trenches)- a unique experience, in and of itself, to which we marry a related conservation project at Ostia. (For the project, just see this teaser video.) Talk about a full circle sustainability project. If archaeology is destruction of the archaeological record (thoroughly documented, of course), what more fulfilling experience for archaeology students than have them finish the season with completing a conservation project for the improvement of Ostia! And don’t take my word for it; our programs director sums it up best here.