Italian Vision: Ideal Cities

Two Tuesdays, February 10 and 17, and one Wednesday, February 25 at 7 – 8:30 P.M. | Mirabeau, 3203 Argonne (One block east of Kirby, one block south of Alabama, behind Borders Bookstore)

Why are we often filled with joy and a feeling of belonging when we enter certain cities? As we will learn on a journey through Italy’s most romantic cities, this sense of familiarity often results from a well-planned seduction that evokes powerful emotions and love of place.

Tuesday, February 10 — David Mayernik: High Ideals and the Italian Renaissance City
An architect’s tour of five Italian cities (Rome, Venice, Florence, Siena and Pienza) will reveal how the longings, and cultural beliefs of their citizens were built into the urban fabric. With these cities as living models, we will consider how our own cities might be made to reflect our dreams and aspirations. David Mayernik is an urban designer, architect, painter and writer. He is currently a visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame and has won the Steedman Competition Fellowship to the American Academy in Rome. Professor Mayernik’s new book, which he will sign following the lecture, is Timeless Cities: An Architect's Reflections on Renaissance Italy.

Tuesday, February 17 — Medina Lasansky: How Italian Fascism Reshaped the Renaissance City
Drawing upon a range of sources including photography, film and tourist propaganda, Professor Lasansky will explore the dark side of the ideal to show how cities such as Florence, Siena and San Gimignano were reconfigured physically and rhetorically to support Fascist political agendas. Medina Lasansky is an assistant professor of architectural and urban history at Cornell University. She is author of The Past Perfected: Reshaping the Medieval Renaissance City in Fascist Italy. Her grants and awards include a Fulbright scholarship to Italy and the Martin Dominguez Distinguished Teaching Award at Cornell University.

Wednesday, February 25 — Claudio Presta: Restoring the Ancient “Sassi” of Matera
A magical, ancient town of cave dwellings, the Sassi was inhabited from Paleolithic times until the 1950’s, when the Italian government, embarrassed by its primitive living conditions, forced its abandonment. Now restored, the town has been described as “the most outstanding, intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region.” It was designated a United Nations World Heritage Site in 1993. Claudio Presta will explain the Sassi’s history, its restoration, and why it is now hailed as a contemporary ideal for urban planning. Presta, an architect and urban planner, was selected to oversee the 1995 restoration of the Sassi for residential use. He is editor in chief for the publishing house of the Association of Roman Architects.



Registration for fall 2018 is ongoing. You may register online, by mail, or by phone with a credit card. 


If you are interested in traveling to Virginia in the spring of 2019, please call the registrar at 713.666.9000 to place your name on a list. Please see Terms and Conditions for "travel list" policy. 


Please note a date in the Mid-term Elections course has changed from that published in the brochure. The course will meet the first two Mondays, October 29 and November 5 as planned, but will meet Tuesday, November 13 instead of Monday, November 12. 


Also note Art Underground: Carlos Cruz-Diez at the Cistern on Wednesday, November 14 is FULLY SUBSCRIBED. A second session has been added and will meet Monday, November 12 from 2:00-3:30 P.M. Registrations are being accepted for November 12. You may register online, or by phone.


Who Gets to Vote: Challenges for the 2020 Elections?
Speaker: Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Voter Rights Project
Monday, November 19, 6:30-8:00 P.M.
Location to be announced


Register today!


For additional information about any of our courses, to register offline, or to add your name to our mailing and/or email lists, please contact our adminstrator at  or phone 713.666.9000.