Milan and Siena 2021

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B e a u t y ,  l e a d e r s h i p ,  a n d   i n n o v a t i o n

ITAL-S 190 (33199)


This course counts as one full-year course (8 credits) of degree credit. It is taught in English.
Classes are on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 11:10-1:00. At IULM: room TBA. At Università di Siena: Presidio San Niccolò, room TBA.
Sections are taught by Francesca Bellei; they are on Monday. At IULM: 11-12:15 in room TBA and 1:30-2:45 in room TBA. At Università di Siena (San Niccolò): 11:00-12:15 in room TBA and 1:30-2:45 in room TBA.
Field trips last the entire day. There are two two-day trips (Thursday-Friday) on July 1-2 and 22-23. In Milan the bus will pick you up in front of Residence Zara; in Siena you will have to walk to Piazza Gramsci (0.8 miles). We usually leave at 7:30 AM and are back around 10:00 PM.
Events and guided tours are usually on Wednesday and last two to three hours.
Film screenings are usually on Tuesday and are followed by a discussion with prof. Erspamer. All movies are in Italian with English subtitles. At IULM: room 401 (TBC). At Università di Siena: San Niccolò, Padiglione esterno, room B (TBC).
Italian dinners are once a week.
Aperitivo is usually on Monday.
Weekends are usually free. There are however two exceptions: June 20-21 (trip to Lake Garda and Italian dinner), July 17 (TBA), and August 14 (TBA). There is a three-day weekend on July 30-August 1. Weekends are also for studying in preparation for the following week and for resting; students are advised NOT to make a trip every time and to avoid long journeys.
– Prof. Erspamer’s office hours are immediately after class, on the bus during our trips, or by appointment.
– TA’s office hours: at IULM, TBA, in the cafeteria at in Bar Centrale; in Siena, in the Refugio, time TBA.
– TA’s office hours: at IULM, TBA, in Bar Centrale; in Siena, in the Refugio, time TBA.
– Prof. Sacco’s office hours: at IULM, TBA; in Siena, TBA, in the Refugio.

No prerequisites
This is a very interdisciplinary course, and it is intended for and geared towards students with many different academic backgrounds. No prior courses in the humanities or economics are required. Actually, part of what makes the discussion in this course rich and incisive is the very fact that our group will be composed of students in the arts and humanities, laboratory sciences, and social sciences, all together in one classroom.

Italian language
Optional Italian language instruction is offered at the beginner, intermediate, and/or advanced levels, though not for credit. Successful completion of the beginner course, though it is not for credit and not directly equivalent to Italian 10, will place students into Italian 11 in the fall semester. This would allow them to take Italian 20 in the spring, accelerating their language trajectory. The intermediate course is recommended for students who have already completed Italian 10, 11, or Italian 15, while the advanced course is recommended for those at any higher level.
In the beginner courses there will be two meetings per week (Tuesday and Thursday, 2:00-3:15 PM, TBC). IULM classroom: TBA. Siena classroom: TBA.
The intermediate class meets twice a week (Tuesday and Thursday, time TBA). IULM: TBA. Siena: TBA.
The advances class meets once a week (time TBA). IULM: TBA. Siena: TBA.
It is strongly recommended that students with no prior background in Italian take one of the beginner classes, particularly in anticipation of joining Siena’s contrade in the final weeks of the program. Click here for more information about the language program.

Milano panorama 960x150

Please note: “#” indicates events that are meant for entertainment or as a cultural experience and are not part of the course.


Week 1

Tuesday, June 15
Students arrive in Milan

8:00 PM: Italian dinner at Pizzeria Magolfa (via Magolfa 15).

Wednesday, June 16

10:00 AM: Orientation.
– Readings: 1) Short selections from the Bible (Genesis, 1-3), Plato’s The Republic (book X, 595a-608b) and Symposium (201d-212a), Baldassare Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier.

5:00 PM: Guided tour of HangarBicocca (Anselm Kiefer’s permanent installation The Seven Heavenly Palaces, and another exhibition.
– Reading: Georg. W. Bertram, Art As Human Practice, Introduction.

7:00 PM: Welcome aperitivo at Iuta Bistrot (HangarBicocca).

Thursday, June 17
– Readings: Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment, Preface, Introduction, and Part I, section I, book I.

  • 3:30 PM: Italy on screen/1 (room 401): Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, directed by Giuseppe Tornatore (1988).

Friday, June 18
– Reading: Kant, Critique of Judgment, Part I, section I, book II, and section II.

Saturday, June 19

Field trip: Lake Garda.

  • 7:30 AM: Coach bus leaves from the Residence Pian della Nave.
  • Visit to the Vittoriale, once home to the eccentric writer and political leader Gabriele d’Annunzio and now a museum that preserves his incredible collection of eclectic objects, memorabilia, furniture, and tapestries.
  • Class on Gabriele d’Annunzio in the open-air amphitheater.
    – Reading: Gabriele d’Annunzio, Pleasure (Il piacere).
  • Lunch at Ristorante Pizzeria Ulivi.
  • Boat trip around the peninsula of Sirmione (Sirmione Boats).
  • Free time to tour the medieval town or for a swim in the lake.

Sunday, June 20

9:00 PM: Italian dinner at La balera dell’ortica (via G. A. Amadeo 78).


Week 2

Monday, June 21  [NO SECTIONS]
Guest lecturer: Pier Luigi Sacco, Economy and culture: How culture creates value
– Reading: Pier Luigi Sacco, “From Culture 1.0 to Culture 3.0: Three Socio-Technical Regimes of Social and economic Value Creation through Culture.”

3:30 PM: A conversation on identity design with Antonio Romano, CEO of Inarea Identity & Design Network, and Eduardo Salierno, strategic consultant, in their new Milan office (via Andrea Doria 7).
– Workshop: Creating our program’s logo.

6:30 PM: Aperitivo at TBA.

Tuesday, June 22
– Reading: Elaine Scarry, On Beauty and Being Just.

  • 3:30 PM (room 502): Italy on screen/2 (room 401): Bella addormentata (Dormant Beauty), directed by Marco Bellocchio (2012).

Wednesday, June 23
Guest lecturer: Emanuela Scarpellini (University of Milan), Italian fashion.
– Readings: 1) Roland Barthes, The Language of Fashion , chapter 1 (“History and Sociology of Clothing”).  2) Emanuela Scarpellini, “The Business of Fashion.”

5:30 PM: Armani/Silos, a fashion art museum dedicated to the Armani style.

7:30 PM: Italian dinner at Boccino (via Tortona 21).

Thursday, June 24

– Readings: 1) Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.”  2) Chantal Mouffe, “Art and Democracy: Art as an Agnostic Intervention in Public Space.”  3) Doris Sommer, The Work of Art in the World, chapter 1 (“From the Top: Government-Sponsored Creativity.”

2:30 PM: Fashion tour with Laura Branchizio, fashion brand adviser

  • Guided visits of White Street Market, Marras concept store, Tomorrow showroom, Marina Guidi – Garage showroom.

Friday, June 25

Field trip: Torino

  • 8:00 AM: Coach bus leaves from Residence Zara.
  • Program TBA.


Week 3

Monday, June 28

6:30 PM: Aperitivo at TBA.

Tuesday, June 29
– Readings: 1) Pico della Mirandola, On the Dignity of Man.  2) Giorgio Vasari’s life of Michelangelo (from The Lives of the Artists, 1550).  3) Jonathan K. Nelson and Richard J. Zeckhauser, The Patron’s Payoff: Conspicuous Commissions in Italian Renaissance Art, chapter 3 (“Theories of Distinction: Magnificence and Signaling”).

  • 3:30 PM: Italy on screen/3 (room 401): Perfetti sconosciuti (Perfect Strangers), directed by Paolo Genovese (2016).

Wednesday, June 30
3:45 PM (room TBA): Guest lecturer: Massimo Buscema (Semeion Research Center in Rome and University of Colorado, Denver), The beauty of algorithms. Please note the afternoon schedule and the location.

8:30 PM: Italian dinner at TBA.

Thursday-Friday, July 1-2

Field trip: Trentino


  • 7:30 AM: Coach bus leaves from Residence Zara.
  • Cable car from Molveno to Altopiano di Pradel. Excursion at the foot of the Brenta Dolomites. Visit to to Malga Tovre and its educational farm.
  • Overnight stay in a hotel in the Lake Nembia nature reserve.


  • Trento: visit to the Gallerie, two former road tunnels that were transformed into a history museum. With Giuseppe Ferrandi, director of the Foundation of the Historical Museum of Trentino.
  • Ropeway ride to Sardagna. Typical regional lunch at Osteria San Rocco.
  • Visit to MUSE science museum and Le Albere urban expansion project, both designed by architect Renzo Piano using eco-sustainable technologies.
  • Lecture by Pier Luigi Sacco, Culture, crossover, and innovation.


Week 4

Monday, July 5

Tuesday, July 6
– Reading: Brian Boyd, On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction, part 2 (“Evolution and Art”).

  • 3:30 PM: Italy on screen/4 (room 401): Il capitale umano (Human Capital), directed by Paolo Virzì (2013).

Wednesday, July 7
– Readings: 1) Thomas Frank, The Conquest of Cool: Business Culture, Counterculture, and the Rise of Hip Consumerism, chapter 6 (“Think Young: Youth Culture and Creativity”).  2) Anthony Julius, Transgressions: The Offences of Art, chapter 1 (“A Transgressive Work and its Defences”).  3) Tibor Scitovsky, The Joyless Economy: The Psychology of Human Satisfaction, chapter 3 (“The Pursuit of Novelty”).
– Slideshow and discussion: The Benetton campaigns.Thursday and Friday, June 27-28

4:00 PM: Guided tour of Fondazione Prada.

Thursday, July 8

Field trip: Lake Maggiore

  • 9:00 AM: Coach bus leaves from Residence Zara.
  • Visit of Isola Bella and its terraced gardens; guided tour of Borromeo Palace.
  • Lunch on the Isola dei Pescatori.

Friday, July 9
– Readings: 1) Erspamer TBA.  2) Panagia TBA.


Week 5

Monday, July 12

6:00 PM: Apericena at Bar Bistro Squisitezze (via Gustavo Fara 30).

Tuesday, July 13
Midterm exam

  • 2:30 PM: Italy on screen/5 (room 401): Le fate ignoranti, (The Ignorant Fairies / His Secret Life), directed by Ferzan Özpetek (2001).

SienaLandscape 960x150


Wednesday, July 14
Program moves to Siena.

9:00 AM: Coach bus leaves from Residence Zara..

8:00 PM: Italian dinner at Trattoria Papei.

Thursday, July 15
10:00 AM (Padiglione esterno, room B): Screening and discussion of Palio, directed by Cosima Spender (2015).
[Please meet in front of the Refugio at 9:45 to walk together to the Padiglione esterno]

Savor Siena walk (at Tuscan Wine School, Via Stalloreggi, 26): 2 hours; first group 3:30-5:30 PM; second group 4:30-6:30 PM): an introduction to Siena while tasting cheeses, Tuscan bread, olive oil, aged vinegar, wine, coffee, honey, saffron, and gelato—with an emphasis on what is typical and local.

Friday, July 16
– Readings: 1) DUNDES-FALASSI TBA.  2) Jane Tylus, Siena: City of Secrets, chapter 4 (“Neighborhoods”).

8:00 PM: Dinner at Contrada del Bruco (via del Comune 30). During the dinner each student is assigned to a contrada and will then participates in the preparations for the Palio and the ceremonies and events that precede it.

5 cappuccino art 960x150

Week 6

Monday, July 19  [NO SECTIONS]

Field trip: Florence.

  • 8:00 AM: Bus leaves from piazza Gramsci.
  • 10:00 AM: TBA
    – Reading: Jeffrey Schnap, “The Romance of Caffeine and Aluminium.”
  • 1:00, 3:00, and 5:00 PM: Discovery coffee course at the Espresso Academy, in Florence (2 hours). Instructor: Gabriele Cortopassi, barista, restaurant manager, coffee expert. See how coffee is blended and roasted. Learn the main types of coffee and the techniques for preparing espresso, cappuccino, latte. Then make your cappuccino with the heart.

Tuesday, July 20
– Reading: Patrick Boucheron, Machiavelli.

  • 3:30 PM: Italy on screen/6 (Padiglione esterno, room B): La dolce vita felice, directed by Federico Fellini (1960). Discussion to follow at the Refugio.

Wednesday, July 21
– PRESENTATIONS: Sartwell, Six Names of Beauty.

4:00 PM: Visit to Palazzo Pubblico with a close analysis of Lorenzetti’s Allegory of Good and Bad Government.

Thursday-Fridat, July 22-23

Field trip: TBA

  • 8:00 AM: Bus leaves from Piazza Gramsci (bus station).
  • Program TBA

Santa Maria della Scala Pellegrinaio 960x150

Week 7

Monday, July 26

Tuesday, July 27
– Reading: Giovanni Della Casa, Galateo.

16:30 PM: Guided tour of Santa Maria della Scala, former hospital of the city, now a museum..

  • Guest lecturer: Pier Luigi Sacco, Culture and health.

8:00 PM: Italian dinner at Il Pomodorino (via Camporegio 13).

Wednesday, July 28
Guest lecturer: Pier Luigi Sacco, The creative city.
– Reading: Pier Luigi Sacco et al., “Two Versions of Heterotopia: The Role of Art Practices in Participative Urban Renewal Processes.”

  • 3:30: Italy on screen/7 (location: Padiglione esterno, room B): Le meraviglie, directed by Alice Rohrwacher (2018).

7:30 PM: Aperitivo and techno dj set with The Misha Sessions feat. PLS.

Thursday, July 29
Guest lecturer: Pier Luigi Sacco, Heritage and public spaces.
– Reading: Yujie Zhu, “Performing Heritage: Rethinking Authenticity in Tourism.”

Friday, July 30


Week 8

Monday, August 2

Tuesday, August 3
– Readings: 1) Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (Le città invisibili).  2) Giovanni Boccaccio, Decameron, Introduction to Day 1, novelle I, 1 (Ciappelletto), X, 9 (Messer Torello).

  • 3:00 PM: Italy on screen (Padiglione esterno, room B): La grande bellezza (The Great Beauty), directed by Paolo Sorrentino (2013).

8:30 PM: Italian dinner at TBA.

Wednesday, August 4
– Readings: 1) John Dewey, Art as Experience, chapters 1 (“The Live Creature”) and 14 (“Art and Civilization”).  2) Martha Nussbaum, Poetic Justice: The Literary Imagination and Public Life, chapter 4 (“Poets as Judges”).

Thursday, August 5 (Padiglione esterno, room B):
– Slideshow and discussion of the final projects.
– Slideshow and discussion of the logo projects.

8:15 PM (sala S. Ansano, Santa Maria della Scala): Guest lecturer: Silvana Kühtz (Università della Basilicata/Associazione Leggo quando voglio), Sensory concert: A reading of Italian poetry. With Susanna Crociani, sax.

Friday, August 6

Field trip: Lucca

  • 8:30 AM: Bus leaves from Piazza Gramsci (bus station).
  • 10:00 AM: Guided visit to Piaggio Museum in Pontedera and to its collection of Vespa scooters.
  • Lunch at Trattoria Giulio in Pelleria (Lucca, via delle Conce 45).
  • Riding the medieval walls of Lucca on bike, tandem, or four-wheeled bicycle.
  • Lecture by Emanuele Vietina (Lucca Comics and Games) and Cosimo Lorenzo Pancini (Studio Kmzero), “E3 – Exhibition, Event, Experience: Art & Gaming: a new perspective on dealing with a constantly changing audience.”


Week 9

Monday, August 9

11:00 AM: Guided tour of Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the oldest bank in the world still operating (founded in 1472).

5:00 PM: Cooking class at Trattoria Fonte Giusta (via Camollia 102).

Tuesday, August 10

Field trip: The Val d’Orcia and Montalcino.
With archeologist Stefano Campana (University of Siena).

  • 8:30 AM: Bus leaves from Piazza Gramsci (bus station).
  • Along the old Via Francigena, through the Crete Senesi hills.
  • Visit to hot springs of Bagno Vignoni, and the Abbey of San’Antino.
  • Wine tasting in Montalcino, home of the famous Brunello wine. Free time to visit the medieval town.

# Palio events: 7:00 PM presentation of the drappellone (banner) in Cortile del Podestà, in Palazzo Pubblico. Be there half an hour earlier.

# Perseid meteor shower.

Wednesday, August 11

Thursday, August 12
3:00 PM: Final exam/1

# Palio events:
1:00 PM (be there 20 minutes earlier): La tratta (selection of the horses).
7:00 PM: first trial.

Friday, August 13
10:00 PM: Final exam/2

# Palio events: second and third trials.

Saturday, August 14
11:00 AM: Final exam/3

# Palio events: prova generale (final trial); and cena della prova generale, open-air dinner in each contrada.

Sunday, August 15
Ferragosto: national holiday

Monday, August 16

The Palio

Tuesday, August 17
The Palio: rain date

Wednesday, August 18
Program ends.

Palio1 960x150


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