Milan and Siena 2022

Home » Course of study » Syllabus


B e a u t y ,  i n n o v a t i o n ,  a n d   s u s t a i n a b i l i t y

ITAL-S 190 (33199)

This course counts as one full-year course (8 credits) of degree credit. It is taught in English.
Classes are usually on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 11:10-1:00. At IULM: room 114. At Università di Siena: Presidio San Niccolò, room TBA.
Sections are taught by Alberto and Bes they are usually on Monday, 11:45-1:00. At IULM: rooms 124 and TBA. At Università di Siena (San Niccolò): rooms TBA.
Field trips last the entire day. 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 begin at 2:30 PM in Milan and at 3:00 PM in Siena. They are followed by a discussion with prof. Erspamer. All movies are in Italian with English subtitles. At IULM: room 401. At Università di Siena: San Niccolò, Padiglione esterno, room B (TBC).
Italian dinners are once a week.
Aperitivo is usually on Monday.
– Most weekends are free. There are however a few exceptions: on July 2nd, Saturday, we will be in Veneto; on July 16 in Trentino and the next day we travel to Siena; on August 13 and 14 we will stay in Siena because of the events connected to the Palio. There is a three-day weekend on July 29-31. 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.
– Alberto’s office hours: at IULM, TBA; in Siena, in the Refugio, time TBA.
– Bes’ office hours: at IULM, TBA; in Siena, in the Refugio, time TBA.
– Peter’s office hours: at IULM, TBA; in Siena, in the Refugio, time TBA.
– Prof. Sacco’s office hours: at IULM, TBA; in Siena, in the Refugio, time TBA.

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 (in class on Monday, 10:30-11:15, field work in Wednesday, 2:00-3:15, TBC). IULM classroom: TBA. Siena classroom: TBA.
The intermediate class meets twice a week (Monday and Thursday, 2:00-3:15). IULM: TBA. Siena: TBA.
The advances class meets twice a week (Wednesday and Thursday, 2:00-3:15). 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.


Saturday, June 18
Students arrive in Milan

7:30 PM: Welcome dinner at Pizzeria Magolfa (via Magolfa 15).

Week 1

Sunday, June 19

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).

Monday, June 20

  • 10:00 AM: Introduction to the course.
    – 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.
  • 11:30 AM: General orientation.
  • 2:30 PM: Introduction to sections and language courses.

Tuesday, June 21
– Reading: Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment, Preface, Introduction, and Part I, section I, book I.

  • 2:30 PM: Italy on screen/1 (room 401): Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, directed by Giuseppe Tornatore (1988).

Wednesday, June 22
– Reading: Kant, Critique of Judgment, Part I, section I, book II, and section II.

Thursday, June 23
– Reading: Elaine Scarry, On Beauty and Being Just.

Friday, June 24

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 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 TBA.
  • Boat trip around the peninsula of Sirmione.
  • Free time to tour the medieval town or for a swim in the lake.


Week 2

Monday, June 27
– Sections.

Tuesday, June 28
Guest lecturer: Maurizio Ferraris (Università di Torino), The beauty of webfare.
– Reading: Maurizio Ferraris, “Webfare: Who, What, Where, When, Why.”

Fashion tour, with Anna Paola Vergani, founder of PFR Polly’s Fitting Room.
3.30: NonostanteMarras, concept store, via Cola di Rienzo 8.
4:30: Tora Tora showroom, via Valsugana 15.
7:00: Accademia del Lusso, fashion show (sfilata), Talent Garden Calabiana, via Arcivescovo Calabiana 6.

Wednesday, June 29
– Reading: Brian Boyd, On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction, part 2 (“Evolution and Art”).

Thursday, June 30

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

Friday and Saturday, July 1-2
Field trip: Veneto


  • 7:30 AM: Coach bus leaves from Residence Zara.
  • Guided tour of Fabrica; introduction to the program Extinction? and lecture about the Studio Ossidiana.
  • Prosecco tasting (Cantina Gregoletto).
  • Overnight stay in San Martino castle.


  • Vicenza, the city of Palladio.
    • Visit to Teatro Olimpico.
    • Lunch at Ristorante Il Ceppo (specialties and delicacies of Vicenza).
    • Visit to Villa La Rotonda.


Week 3

Monday, July 4

Visit to Gucci’s flagship store, via Monte Napoleone, 5/7. With Emanuele Coccia (École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris; and Harvard University). First group at 3:00, second group at 3:30.

Tuesday, July 5
Guest lecturer: Emanuele Coccia, Why fashion matters.
– Readings: 1) Roland Barthes, The Language of Fashion , chapter 1 (“History and Sociology of Clothing”).  2) Sophie Abriat, Interview with Emanuele Coccia (click here).

4:30 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.

Wednesday, July 6
– 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”).

Thursday, July 7
– Reading: Brian Boyd, On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction, part 3 (“Evolution and Fiction”).

  • 2:30 PM: Italy on screen/3 (room 401): Perfetti sconosciuti (Perfect Strangers), directed by Paolo Genovese (2016).

Friday, July 8

Field trip: Lake Maggiore

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


Week 4

Monday, July 11

  • 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.”
  • Sections.

8:30 PM: Italian (Milanese) dinner at Trattoria Ferrelli (via Carlo Farini 6).

Tuesday, July 12
Guest lecturer: Pier Luigi Sacco, Culture, crossover, and innovation.

  • 2:30 PM: Italy on screen/4 (room 401): Il capitale umano (Human Capital), directed by Paolo Virzì (2013).

Wednesday, July 13
Midterm exams

Thursday-Saturday, July 14-16

Field trip to Trentino
Overnight stay in a hotel near Lake Molveno.

  • Thursday
    7:30 AM: Coach bus leaves from Residence Zara.
    – 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.
    – 4:00 PM: Guest lecturer: Silvana Kühtz (Università della Basilicata/Associazione Leggo quando voglio), Sensory concert: A reading of Italian poetry. With Susanna Crociani, sax.
  • Friday
    – 9:00 AM: Coach bus leaves hotel.
    – Trento: Visit to Cooperazione Trentina. With Italo Monfredini, vice-chairman.
    – Trento: Visit to SAT (Alpine Society of Trentino).
        Reading: Joe Simpson, Touching the Void, ch. 9.
  • Saturday
    – Field trip: Walk to Lake Molveno. Cable car from Molveno to Altopiano di Pradel, at the foot of the Brenta Dolomites. Visit to to Malga Tovre and its educational farm.


SienaLandscape 960x150


Week 5

Sunday, July 17
Program moves to Siena (from Lake Molveno)

9:00 AM: Coach bus leaves from your hotel in Molveno.

8:00 PM: Italian dinner at Trattoria Papei.

Monday, July 18  [NO SECTIONS]
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]
– Readings: 1) Dundes-Falassi TBA.  2) Jane Tylus, Siena: City of Secrets, chapter 4 (“Neighborhoods”).

Savor Siena walk (at Tuscan Wine School, Via Stalloreggi, 26): 2 hours; first group TBA; second group TBA: 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.

Tuesday, July 19
– Reading: Giovanni Della Casa, Galateo.

  • 3:00: Italy on screen/5 (room 401): Le fate ignoranti, (The Ignorant Fairies / His Secret Life), directed by Ferzan Özpetek (2001).

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.

Wednesday, July 20
– 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”).

Thursday, July 21
– Boucheron, Machiavelli.

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

Friday, July 22

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.

5 cappuccino art 960x150

Week 6

Monday, July 25

Tuesday, July 26

– Presentations: Sartwell, Six Names of Beauty.

  • 3:00: Italy on screen/6 (location: Padiglione esterno, room B): Le meraviglie, directed by Alice Rohrwacher (2018).

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

Wednesday, July 27
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.”

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.

Thursday, July 28
Guest lecturer: Pier Luigi Sacco, Heritage and public spaces.
– Reading: Yujie Zhu, “Performing Heritage: Rethinking Authenticity in Tourism.”

Friday, July 29

Santa Maria della Scala Pellegrinaio 960x150

Week 7

Monday, August 1

  • 3:00 PM: Italy on screen/7 (Padiglione esterno, room B): La dolce vita, directed by Federico Fellini (1960). Discussion to follow at the Refugio.

Tuesday, August 2
– 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)

Wednesday, August 3
– 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”).

  • 5:00 PM: Cooking class at Trattoria Fonte Giusta (via Camollia 102).
  • 8:30 PM: Italian dinner at Trattoria Fonte Giusta.

Thursday, August 4 (Padiglione esterno, room B):

  • 2:00: Italy on screen (Padiglione esterno, room B): La grande bellezza (The Great Beauty), directed by Paolo Sorrentino (2013).

Friday, August 5

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 8

Monday, August 8

  • 10:00 AM: Guided tour of Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the oldest bank in the world still operating (founded in 1472).
  • 2:00 PM (Padiglione esterno, auditorium ***):
    – Slideshow and discussion of the final projects.
    – Slideshow and discussion of the logo projects.
  • 8:00 PM: Italian dinner at Trattoria Fonte Giusta.

Tuesday, August 9

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.

Wednesday, August 10
Sections (at the Refugio).

# 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.

Thursday, August 11
10:00 AM: Final exam/1 (at the Refugio)

Friday, August 12
10:00 AM: Final exam/2 (at the Refugio)

Saturday, August 13

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

Palio1 960x150

Week 9

Sunday, August 14

# Palio events: second and third trials.

Monday, August 15
Ferragosto: national holiday

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

Tuesday, August 16

The Palio

Wednesday, August 17

The Palio: rain date

Thursday, August 18
Program ends.



LinkWhyTakeCourseLinkCourseRequirementsLinkFacultyLinkItalianLanguage  applynow110

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: