Italy: Ancient & Medieval (IDIS W-45)
January 5-23, 2010
General Information

Course description:

The primary academic objective of this trip is to gain an understanding of the classical context in which western Christianity developed and flourished. Participants visit many sites in Italy, with special emphasis on the urban centers of classical, medieval, and Renaissance culture. On-site lectures address topics in Roman and early Christian history, religion, literature, art, and architecture. The itinerary includes Rome and its environs, Naples, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Sorrento, Amalfi, Palestrina, Perugia, Assisi, Ravenna, Bologna, Florence, Tivoli, and Ostia. Participants write a take-home test on background readings (available in October), prepare an oral report for delivery at an assigned site, keep a detailed journal, and write a comprehensive essay on one of the major topics covered by the course. This course may fulfill an elective in the Classics major and minor. Optional cross-cultural engagement credit is available for those who meet additional requirements. Prior course work in classical languages or culture is not required. Fee: approximately $3,824.


January 5 (Tu): Grand Rapids to Europe

January 6 (W): to ROME: orientation tour by coach

January 7 (Th): ROME: Colosseum, Forum, Capitoline  

January 8 (F): ROME: Vatican Museum, St. Peter's Basilica  

January 9 (Sa): ROME: Castel S. Angelo, Ara Pacis, Piazza Navona, Pantheon

January 10 (Su): ROME: worship; papal blessing; major churches

January 11 (M): Capua, Naples National Museum, SORRENTO
January 12 (Tu): Pompeii & Herculaneum, SORRENTO

January 13 (W): Naples, Pozzuoli, Cumae, SORRENTO

January 14 (Th): Amalfi coast, Palestrina, PERUGIA

January 15 (F): Assisi, PERUGIA

January 16 (Sa): Ravenna, Bologna, FLORENCE

January 17 (Su): FLORENCE: worship & free day

January 18 (M): FLORENCE: walking tour

January 19 (Tu): FLORENCE: Uffizi, Accademia

January 20 (W): Tivoli, ROME

January 21 (Th): ROME: catacombs, Ostia

January 22 (F): ROME: free day           

January 23 (Sa): Rome- Grand Rapids

  (CAPITAL LETTERS indicate locations of overnight stays.)


The estimated course fee of $3,824 includes all travel round-trip from Grand Rapids, all lodging (in double or triple rooms with private baths in excellent hotels), all breakfasts and dinners, an allowance for lunches, Calvin administrative fees, and a contingency fee which will be refunded if it is not needed during the trip. The course fee does not include optional spending money, the cost of a passport (if needed), or personal insurance. Students who live on campus will receive a rebate for room and board during the Interim. A non-refundable deposit of $500 is required with your application no later than October 2, with the balance due before departure.

Financial Aid:

Application forms for grants from $200 to $800, loans, and a few scholarships will be available in September. Awards are based on financial need, as documented in the FAFSA.
Important Dates:
October 2, 2009: Interim Scholarship Application DUE
October 30, 2009: January 2010 Interim Grant Application DUE

On-campus Room & Board charges:

On-campus students enrolled in an off-campus interim are credited an amount proportional to the amount of time their course is away from campus. In January 2010, the housing allowance for a student living in the residence halls with a 21-meal plan who is gone for the entire interim is $780, a 15-meal plan is $760 and a 10 meal plan is $720. Students living in Knollcrest East will receive a housing allowance in the amount of $320. Housing allowances for absence for a part of the Interim are calculated on the basis of day rates: housing allowances for residence halls with a meal plan average $34 per day; the rate for Knollcrest East is $14 per day. For room and board figures not listed here or other housing-related information, contact the Housing Office.

Application process:

Step 1: You may submit the Application for an Off-Campus Interim Course and the Student Health Information form to the leaders at any time before October 2. Give a copy of the Recommendation Form to one professor who knows you well. These forms are also available online

Step 2: After your application has been processed in various college offices, we will contact you to schedule a personal interview (in September or early October). You must submit your completed Witte Travel application form and deposit at this interview. We will admit students in the order in which your interviews are completed, and we can accept up to 43 participants.

Step 3: After admission to the course you will be registered officially in late October.

Who may enroll:

There are no academic prerequisites other than a minimum GPA of 2.0 and at least sophomore status. Applicants should be in good physical & mental health and must be willing to abide by the rules the leaders set for the group (these will be discussed at the interview). Non-students may also be admitted after October 2 (with an extra audit fee), if space is still available.


You must have a valid passport for travel inside the European Union, of which Italy is a member. In addition, your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of our return from Italy (i.e. until at least July 23, 2011), even though we are staying for less than a month in the country. If you have a passport, you should check well ahead of our departure to make sure that it will be valid. Obtaining a passport usually takes 6-8 weeks. Application forms for passports are available online at:  U.S. citizens do not need a visa for travel in Italy.


All participants are required to carry personal health insurance while in Europe. KnightCare does provide adequate coverage. If you have other health insurance, check with your agent to determine whether you would be covered for medical care or hospitalization in Italy. Emergency evacuation insurance is included in the course fee. Optional insurance for trip cancellation or loss of luggage is available from Witte Travel.

Academic Requirements

            Brown, Peter. The World of Late Antiquity.  W.W. Norton, 1989 [1971].
            Potter, Timothy W. Roman Italy. Univ. of California Press, 1987.
            Wheeler, Mortimer. Roman Art & Architecture. Thames & Hudson: 1985.
New Testament: Mark, Acts, Romans, Philippians, 1 & 2 Peter

(These books and the take-home test on them will be available by October, 2009.)

No prior study of Latin, classics, Italian or ancient history is required for this course, although it would prove helpful if you have opportunity to undertake it. 

Future Meetings:

On September 15 we will have an information meeting at 3:30 in Hiemenga 323. In November and December we will schedule a couple of short orientation sessions to get acquainted with each other and prepare for the trip. We will offer further advice about luggage, clothing, money, and other practical matters at that time.

QUESTIONS? Contact Prof. Ken Bratt (HH-365, 526-6296, or Prof. Young Kim (HH-480, 526-7568,