With Rome as their classroom, Centro students encounter the marvels and the markets; the arenas and the alleyways; the domes, the details, and everything in between.

The Ancient City

The heart of the Centro curriculum is The Ancient City, a double-credit course required of all Centristi.  This interdisciplinary class tackles Rome’s art, history, archaeology, topography, social make-up, and much more.  The Professor-in-Charge heads up the course, and all Centro faculty lend their expertise to this joint endeavor.

Over the course of a typical week, Centristi dedicate two half-days and one full day to The Ancient City.  Almost all class meetings unfold on archaeological sites, in museums, and amid standing remains.  Daylong excursions to Rome’s neighboring cities and sites round out the picture of Rome’s growth from a clutch of huts on a hill to the head of a Mediterranean-spanning empire.

Additionally, throughout the term, the Centro hits the road for longer excursions: to the Bay of Naples and elsewhere in Italy, such as Ravenna, Sicily, and other spots as chosen by the faculty.  Thanks to these trips, The Ancient City touches on Etruscan, Greek, Roman, and native Italian populations, their interactions, and mutual influence.  While the course focuses on Rome, a rich picture of the city’s broader context emerges as The Ancient City unfolds.

See where you’ll go.

What can you expect from The Ancient City?  Stand where Cicero delivered speeches in the Forum Romanum.  Descend into subterranean shrines to the mystery cult of Mithras.  Learn about the self-identities of former enslaved peoples along the Via Appia.  Contrast the grand reception rooms of sprawling villas with the cramped kitchens and narrow hallways of urban apartments at Pompeii, Ostia, and Herculaneum.

Check out some syllabi for “The Ancient City” from recent years.

“I wanted to see Italy, but I didn’t want to compromise my rigorous academic schedule... The Centro was the perfect fit, and it is an honor to be a Centrista.”

– Grace McIntire, Randolph-Macon College

Other Courses

All Centro classes involve learning by doing – studying paintings and sculpture in the manner they were intended to be displayed; examining the elements’ effect on standing architecture; or performing your own adaptation of a Greek play in an ancient theater.  Centristi completely soak in and take full advantage of all that Rome and Italy have to offer.

Many Centristi enroll in Ancient Greek or Latin at the intermediate or advanced level. Every year, faculty members select texts that suit their personal expertise, that come to life while being read on site in Rome, and that usually avoid commonly-read   That way, all students are encountering a text in a new way.  Where better to read the Res Gestae, for instance, than in the city that Augustus transformed from brick to marble?

Courses in the past have explored literary inscriptions, Greek authors’ visions of Rome, Latin authors’ conceptions of urban space, Aeneid 8, Plutarch’s life of Anthony, and other topics.

There is no ancient language requirement at the Centro; students are welcome to take as many or as few Greek and Latin courses as they’d like.  These courses are each taught by one of the four Centro professors.

Renaissance and Baroque Art History grants Centristi the opportunity to explore another stratum of the Eternal City head-on and in-person. Learn about greats of the Italian artistic pantheon – Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio, Bernini, and others – by seeing their masterpieces in Rome’s churches, museums, and palazzi.  This course is taught by Paul Tegmeyer.

Conservation and Management of the Material Heritage of Ancient Rome grants Centristi the opportunity to learn about and also to try their hand at the preservation of Rome’s physical remains.  Thanks to deep connections in the field of conservation, Centristi in recent years have visited on-going excavations to witness in situ technical operations.  Meanwhile, back at the Centro’s temporary laboratory, they use ancient techniques to construct their own mosaics. This course is taught by Roberto Nardi.

Buongiorno! Centristi in Elementary Italian learn basic grammar, morphology, and vocabulary of the language.  Special emphasis concentrates on oral skills that are helpful in navigating contemporary life in Rome and Italy.  This course is taught by Barbara Castaldo.

Which courses should I take? Are you…

…in love with the Classics?
Consider pairing The Ancient City with the appropriate levels of Greek and Latin.
…someone who can’t get enough art history?
Think about The Ancient City, Art History, and Italian.
…into museum studies?
Dive into The Ancient City, Art History, and Conservation.
…curious about the history of Rome through the ages?
Deepen your knowledge with The Ancient City, a course in Latin, and Art History.


Each academic year, the Centro selects four professors from posts at premier institutions across the US and Canada to lead the program.  Many are former Centristi themselves; all are lovers of Rome who are excited to engage with dedicated students of the ancient world.

As true Romanophiles, faculty look to the mos maiorum when crafting a syllabus and honoring many past traditions.  Since new faculty arrive each year, they bring their own ideas and both draw on and contribute to the program’s energy.  Accordingly, the Centro’s curriculum is constantly refreshed and tailored to suit the talents and expertise of each year’s professors.  It’s a bit like a jazz concert – the standards all get played, but every faculty cohort adds their own vibe.

To round out the teaching team, three Italy-based faculty lend their expertise on Italian, Renaissance and Baroque Art History, and Conservation.

2020-2021 Faculty Cohort

Myles McDonnell


Myles McDonnell received his B. A. from Queens College, CUNY, and an M. A. and Ph. D. in Ancient Classical History from Columbia University. He has published on various aspects of ancient Greek, Roman, and Etruscan cultures and history, and is the author of Roman Manliness: Virtus and the Roman Republic (CUP 2006, pbk 2009). He was Assistant Professor at the Centro from 1990-1992, and is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, where he was the Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in Classical Studies and Archaeology in 1997-98. From 2004-7 he was Director of the American Academy’s Classical Summer School in Ancient Roman Topography. He has taught at the University of Washington, Bowdoin College, New York University, Columbia University, and Baruch College. He is adjunct Associate Professor of History at Queens College in New York City.

C. Jacob Butera

Associate Professor

C. Jacob Butera received his PhD from Duke University in 2010 and has taught at Hollins University (2009-2010), Brigham Young University, (2011-2012), and the University of North Carolina at Asheville (2012-Present). He has worked on the archaeological sites of Corinth and Samothrace and traveled extensively to ancient sites in Greece, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, and France. His research focuses specifically on Greek and Roman military history, and he has recently co-authored a book called the Battles and Battlefields of Ancient Greece, which presented the topography and archaeology of major ancient battles fought in Greece. He teaches a variety of topics, including Greek, Latin, history, art history, film, medical terminology, and Humanities and has led study abroad programs to both Greece and Italy. His current work explores the public display of communal identity through memorials, buildings, and monuments.

Assistant Professor

Ambra Spinelli holds a B.A. in Classical Studies and a M.A. in Archaeology from the Università di Bologna, as well as a Ph.D. in Art History, with a specialization in Roman Art and Archaeology, from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles (2019). Ambra’s current research integrates the analysis of artifacts, architecture, decorative and textual evidence to explore ancient domestic life in Roman Italy, with a particular focus on the room known as the tablinum. Her interests also encompass Roman religious and funerary practices as well as the legacy of Etruria in the Roman world. Over the years, Ambra has participated in several archaeological excavations and research projects involving Etruscan, Roman, and Medieval sites in Italy, and from 2011-2019, she served as Head of Archival Research and Assistant to the Director of the University of Cincinnati’s Pompeii Archaeological Research Project: Porta Stabia. She has taught at the American University of Rome (2019) and Bowdoin College (2019-2020).

Resident Instructor

Michael Mignanelli is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Classics at the University of Texas at Austin, where he also earned his M.A. His primary research interest is ancient drama, with a particular emphasis on Old Comedy. His dissertation examines the inclusion of legal elements in the corpus of Aristophanes and the intimate relationship between law and daily life. For the past four years, Michael has served as the Director of UT Ancient Drama and has led translation groups and performances of Seneca’s Phaedra, Aristophanes’ Peace, Euripides’ Orestes, and Plautus’ Amphitryon. Michael earned his B.A. in Classics at the University of New Hampshire and attended the Centro in the spring of 2015. As an alumnus of the program, Michael is excited to return and teach a new group of Centristi.

Italian Language Instructor

Barbara Castaldo (Laurea, Università La Sapienza di Roma; M.A., Columbia University; Ph.D., New York University) is specialized in contemporary Italian literature with a doctoral thesis on Italian author Pier Paolo Pasolini (awarded Premio Pasolini in 2009). Her research interests include law and literature scholarship and comparative literature. She has published articles on contemporary Italian authors (Sandro Veronesi, Marco Lodoli, Ennio Flaiano, Pier Paolo Pasolini), and has appeared in a number of TV documentaries and radio interviews for Rai Storia (Italy), Arte TV (France-Germany), Österreich 1 (Austria). She is currently working on a book on Pier Paolo Pasolini’s legal trials. She has taught courses of Italian language at all levels and has been teaching Italian at ICCS since 2005.

Art History Instructor

Paul Tegmeyer began studying art history as an undergraduate at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he was raised. After moving to Italy, actually l’Aquila, outside Rome, in 1983, he began graduate school at Temple University in Rome, and then Philadelphia. He later entered the Ph.D. program at the University of Pennsylvania. His area of specialization is the Italian Renaissance.

He began teaching the Renaissance. to Baroque Rome course at ICCS from 1990-92 and again from 1997 on. He also been teaching at John Cabot University in Rome since 1991. Here he has had the opportunity to expand his repertoire beyond the Italian Renaissance, teaching courses on Ancient and Medieval Rome, Baroque art, as well as monographic courses on Renaissance Rome; Raphael; Michelangelo; Bernini; et al. Since 1997 he has also conducted the Rome Seminar for the Smithsonian Institute.

His research focuses primarily on various aspects of Roman Renaissance art (Raphael, Pollaiuolo, Michelangelo, et al.). He is also now in the early stages of preparing with other colleagues, a “Guide to Renaissance Rome”.

Cultural Heritage Instructor

Roberto Nardi gained a degree in archaeology from the University of Rome La Sapienza in 1982, and a degree in conservation of archaeological materials and structures at ICR – Istituto Centrale per il Restauro, where he specialized in stone conservation in 1982.

In the same year, he founded the Centro di Conservazione Archeologica (CCA), a private company operating on public commission in the field of conservation of ancient monuments and archaeological sites, including professional training in conservation.

He has directed over 50 projects in 10 countries, on monuments and sites such as the Arch of Septimius Severus and the Temple of Vespasian in the Roman Forum, the Roman town of Zeugma, Turkey, the mural paintings of the Madrasa Amiriya in Yemen, and the mosaics of Saint Catherine in Sinai. Roberto has published over 80 technical articles, being co-editor of 7 volumes on conservation.

He is President of the  ICCM, International Committee for the Conservation of Mosaics and member of ICOM, International Council of Museums – Committee for Conservation. He was Kress Lecturer at the American Institute of Archaeology for the academic years 2010/2011. Roberto is professor at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies of Rome.

Future Professors-in-Charge

  • 2021-2022: Kathleen Coleman (Harvard University)
  • 2022-2023: Christopher Gregg (George Mason University)