This site uses cookies to provide a better experience. Continuing navigation accept the use of cookies by us OK

Italy’s great (hidden) beauty



Italy’s great (hidden) beauty

padovaHistory and art in UNESCO World Heritage sites

With Dr Kathleen Olive

Part 3: Italy’s Magnificent Middle Ages

Many of Italy’s World Heritage sites are well known and draw thousands of tourists every year, from the historic centre of Florence to the archaeological site of Pompeii, Leonardo’s Last Supper and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. But what of the lesser-known World Heritage sites in Italy? What can we learn about the fascinating history and culture of Italy from the historic sites and practices recognised by UNESCO, reflecting the diverse groups who have left their distinctive marks on the Italian peninsula for millennia.

In this third part of our course, travel virtually to Italy to explore its history, art and culture in illustrated presentations on World Heritage sites that you’re less likely to know, a celebration of Italy’s grande bellezza in its hidden places.

Session 1 (8 August): Pisa (Tuscany)
A powerful medieval maritime republic, Pisa’s material assistance to Holy Land Crusaders ensured wealth and a diversity of aesthetic influences. Some scholars argue that the Italian Renaissance started here, but the artistic ‘miracles’ of its cathedral square and Museo di San Matteo are often overlooked.

Session 2 (15 August): Palermo (Sicily)
Conquered by the Arabs and then the Normans, Sicily became a bustling medieval emporium of trade, ideas, religions, technologies and artisanal crafts. Palermo’s great cathedrals, in the Palazzo dei Normanni, Cefalù and Monreale, still bear witness to this cultural flowering.

Session 3 (22 August): Castel del Monte (Puglia)
Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II was the last great Norman king of southern Italy, and the harbinger of German pressure from thecastel del monte north. Known in his time as the ‘stupor mundi’ or ‘wonder of the world’, his great learning, luxury and love of hunting are exemplified in this hunting lodge.

Session 4 (29 August): Assisi (Umbria)
In the Italian Middle Ages, a significant number of men and women began to challenge the Church’s structure and philosophies, forever changing the face of Christian spirituality. In Assisi, we can trace the impact of St Francis and St Clare on subsequent Italian understandings of faith and of art’s power to convey it.

Session 5 (05 September): Padua (Veneto)
In the fourteenth century, Padua was the site of an important university and a vibrant marketplace. Around 1303, the Tuscan artist Giotto di Bondone commenced a cycle of frescoes for the Scrovegni Chapel that is today his best-preserved work. It inspired the generations of artists who followed him, such as Giusto de’ Menabuoi and Altichiero da Zevio.

The course will be held in English, both face-to-face at the Institute and online

Each one hour lecture will be followed by 30 minutes of live discussion

kathleen oliveTutor: Dr Kathleen Olive

Dr Kathleen Olive is a cultural historian with a PhD in Italian Studies from the University of Sydney. She lived and studied in Italy for a number of years, and has taught Italian language, history and culture at the University of Sydney and at the University of Technology, Sydney. Her edition with Nerida Newbigin of the Codex Rustici, a celebrated fifteenth-century manuscript, was the official gift of the Florentine Curia to Pope Francis on his first visit to Florence in 2015. Kathleen has led cultural tours to Italy, Spain, France, Japan and the USA since 2003, and is a national lecturer for the Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Society (ADFAS). She is well known for her public lectures on art history and appreciation.

Course fee: $125 (no discounts apply)

Downolad the brochure HERE.

To book for the course download HERE the enrolment form, fill it in and send it to: 

For further information call: (02) 9261 1780


Date: Da Monday, August 08, 2022 a Monday, September 05, 2022

Time: From 10:00 am To 11:30 am

Organized by : Istituto Italiano di Cultura

Entrance : With fee


Istituto Italiano di Cultura