ROME: Discovery through Drawing

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Program Description

Guest lectures, readings, field trips, group meals and other attractions complement the cultural, historical and intellectual experience. A four-day excursion to Pompeii and Naples is included in the cost of tuition. We also provide several free days for independent exploration throughout the course. Sketching exercises employ proportional scaling, watercolor, collage, orthographic projection and cartography to reveal the complexities of a city transformed over time, and its relative scale to the human body. Students engage in daily walking seminars during which they are challenged, through observational drawing, to adjust their preconceived notions of historical places toward a more nuanced understanding of our built environment.

Students build their skills incrementally through exercises that engage both representational and analytical qualities of the critical sketch. This course is a comprehensive overview of the topographical, architectural and urban history of Rome, while encouraging a habitual practice of freehand drawing.


Participants are placed in close walking distance to historical sites such as the Forum, the Vatican and the Pantheon. Students study and live in the home of RISD's European Honors Program. It is a 16th-century palazzo located in the heart of Rome's Centro Storico at the Palazzetto Cenci.

The student’s final portfolio is a personal catalogue of their experiences, memories and discoveries, as well as a toolkit of skills that can be adapted when representing other environments. This course is ideal for artists, architects and designers – as well as aspiring urbanists, environmentalists, historians and archeological enthusiasts – who seek to build up their strength of observation through drawing in a breath-taking environment overflowing with history and art.

What`s Included

Includes tuition, accommodations and some meals.


Archaeology, Architecture, Arts, Design, Drawing, Environmental Studies, History, Urban & Regional Planning

Program Locations

Rome, Italy

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Program Details

  • Italy: Rome
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