The Architecture of Italy

Ref: C3741434

Ancient Rome produced new architectural forms in the use of round arches and the use of concrete. Christian worship in secular Roman basilicas influenced church design from the fourth century – seen in Old St Peters in Rome. Italy saw the re-emergence of classical forms in Romanesque work of the eleventh and twelfth centuries – the magnificent cathedral of Pisa is an example. Italy was a late adopter of the Gothic style emerging from northern France, but produced its own variant in centres such as Venice (the Doge’s Palace and palazzi on the Grand Canal). Brunelleschi and Alberti initiated the rebirth of classical forms in the Renaissance, taken further by Michelangelo and Palladio. Bernini and Borromini in Rome pushed forward into the Baroque. Later architectural development saw work of Mussolini’s period in power, and in the twenty first century Italian architects such as Renzo Piano (Pompidou Centre and London’s Shard) continue to exert international influence.

Course aim

To trace the development of architecture in Italy from ancient Rome through Early Christian development to the Romanesque and Gothic, and then on to the Baroque and modern periods.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • recognise the key architectural styles representative of successive periods of Italian architecture
  • identify the work of major figures in Italian architecture
  • link the development of architecture to the political history of Italy

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • Presentations with images and colour notes provided for each session

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • Useful background reading - Nikolaus Pevsner, An Outline of European Architecture, Thames and Hudson

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Study visits to see featured buildings in Italy or to view the Medieval and Renaissance galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Download full Course information sheet

The Architecture of Italy


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  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
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  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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