This two-week workshop focuses on the life of medieval hill towns as seen through original documents, art, contemporary literature, architecture, and the unsurpassed visual art in Assisi. Since ancient times Assisi has been an important hill town center in Umbria, one of Italy’s most beautiful regions and when, in the 13th Century, St. Francis publicly renounced his secular life and founded the Franciscan order the secular and religious have co-existed here. Commerce, pilgrimage, painting and politics have all shaped the town and today Assisi survives as a rich and extensive center of still-extant medieval secular and religious architecture.
The group will meet daily, five days a week, in two sessions. Each morning will include a two to three-hour on-site tour and group discussion focused on a particular theme. Then, later in the afternoon the group will gather for a one to two-hour informal class (over coffee or wine) related to the morning’s tour. Each day’s theme will build on previous ones, to create a well-rounded understanding of the daily life in medieval Italy and major developments in art, architecture and literature.
There may be two or three excursions outside of Assisi which are not included in the tuition. This can range from $100 to $300 per excursion for transportation, gratuities, museum fees, and guided tours.
Sam Gruber (B.A. Medieval Studies from Princeton University, Ph.D. in art and archaeology from Columbia University) is an internationally recognized art and architectural historian, and historic preservationist. His specialties are medieval Italian art and architecture and the art and architecture of Judaism. Sam is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome (Rome Prize in Art History), and has been a recipient of an NEH fellowship, and research grants from many foundations and institutions. He presently teaches Jewish Studies and Art History at Syracuse University (since 1994) and Cornell University (since 2017) and he has taught at Temple University (Rome); Columbia University; Colgate University, Binghamton University; and LeMoyne College. Sam is an expert on medieval and Renaissance Italian architecture and cities. His doctoral dissertation is “Medieval Todi: Studies in Architecture and Urbanism,” and he has published many articles on medieval Italian cities.
For 30 years Sam has also been a leader in the documentation and presentation of Jewish heritage worldwide. He was founding director of the Jewish Heritage Program of the World Monuments Fund and Research Director of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, with projects in Italy and many countries in Central and Eastern Europe. He is presently working on a research project to document the roles and spaces of women in Italian Synagogues from the Middle Ages until today.