Grand Tour

Piazza Navona in Roma. (Photo by JW Bailly CC BY 4.0)


“These several remains have been so copiously described by abundance of travelers … that it is very difficult to make any new discoveries on so beaten a subject. There is however so much to be observed in so spacious a field of Antiquities, that it is almost impossible to survey them without taking new hints, and raising different reflections, according as a man’s natural turn of thoughts, or the course of his studies, direct him…” – Joseph Addison, Remarks on Several Parts of Italy

Grand Tour student academic reflections are available to read online. We thank the individuals and institutions that annually welcome us. Directory of Grand Tour student projects

This project requires students to study the past in order to discover their contemporary selves. Just as the founders of the United States looked at Rome as a guide and artists studied the Renaissance for inspiration, students of the FIU Honors College will reflect on their commonalities and differences with classical and Renaissance culture. Edward Gibbon, author of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, stated, “According to the law of custom, and perhaps of reason, foreign travel completes the education of an English gentleman.”

The nature of student reflection must be broad and profound, and not exclusively personal. Students should address connections in society and culture across time. This project should not be a diary. Research must be rigorous.

Students will form groups of 3 to 4 students. Each group will be assigned one section of each respective city.  Groups will have the duration of the stay to explore.  Student groups must explore the history, culture, location, contemporary people of their respective location/institution.

Although exploration is done in groups, projects are individual.

The following are suggested topics and questions students may explore. The inquiry should include, but not be limited, to these. The topics below primarily list the United States for comparison, but other countries may be used.

(Many of these questions are copied directly from the National Constitution Center’s guide “Ancient Rome & America: The Classical Influence That Shaped Our Nation.”)

Are we Rome?
Will America’s rise to world leadership last for a thousand years?
Or will our nation come to ruin, like the great Empire of ancient Rome?
How is Roman civic structure a model for the United States (or another country)? How is it different?
Compare a Roman’s loyalty to Rome to an American’s to the US. What does it mean to be a citizen? What should a citizen expect from the state and visa versa.
What parallels exist between Rome and the US in foreign relations?
Many of the founding fathers found individual characters to identify with (Cincinnatus and Washington). Which do you identify with? Why?
How does Roman religion compare with contemporary notions?
What lessons and symbols of Rome would be beneficial to contemporary society?
Are Americans today willing to sacrifice their individual interests for the common good?
Do Americans have a sense of unity and common purpose?
What brings Americans together? What pulls them apart?

The Renaissance placed the human at the center of thought and experience. How has this impacted your view of the world?
Compare Renaissance objective beauty with contemporary subjectivity.
Renaissance scholars and artists strove to understand the surrounding world, rather than focus on an abstract, spiritual world. How has this changed? How has this not changed?
Is there a contemporary parallel to Galileo’s trial?
Several Renaissance figures placed personal excellence above all, including relations with other people.
Venice and Florence were ruled by secular states. How has this influenced the modern world?
Venetians placed trade above all. Some historians associate the rise of capitalism with Venice.

These are to be claimed on the class discussion board.


Roman neighborhoods are called Quartieri. The class will divide into six groups of three students. Each groups will select one of the following quartieri.

Colosseo, Foro Romano, & Ancient Roma
Ghetto, Isola Tibertina, & Testaccio (on southern section of map)
Pantheon & Piazza Navona
Spanish Steps & Trevi Fountain


Oltrano & Piazzale Michelangelo
Santa Croce
San Lorenzo
Sant Ambrogio & San Marco
Santa Maria Novella

Cinque Terre
Monterosso al Mare

Venezia (Sestieri)

San Marco East (east of Rio S. Moise, Rio de l’Barcaroli, Rio de S. Luca)
San Marco West (west of Rio S. Moise, Rio de l’Barcaroli, Rio de S. Luca)
San Polo
Santa Croce

Students must create a webpage with text and images and/or videos. The research must be thorough. The webpage must be public. Students can use any number of free web hosting services.

Students must post a link to the webpage on the class WhatsApp chat.

The project must also be submitted as a Word document to

This is the major project for the semester. It must be a minimum of 2,000 words.

Similar to a research paper, all sources must be cited for all project formats. If you utilize an existing film for inspiration or incorporate clips or pictures from someone else, you must cite those. Failure to do is plagiarism.

These following factors will be considered in determining the project grade.

1. Research! The student must demonstrate a thoroughly researched knowledge of subjects.
2. The student must tackle Big Ideas-culture, history, religion, philosophy, economic disparity, sexuality, gender, race, to name a few.
3. The student should not shy away from controversial subjects or opinions.
4. The student should explain the nature of her/his connection to the subject.
5. Subjects should be discussed in a broader cultural and historical context. Others should be able to relate to the points made in the project.
6. Students should aim for originality in text and in the photo.
7. The student is not expected to be a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Writing nor Photography. S/he is only expected to put forth maximum effort.

Directory of Grand Tour student projects

Stephanie Sepúlveda & John William Bailly  19 January 2019

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