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Alumni Travel Reading: Portrait of Italy

History and Culture

Classic Italian Fiction


Mt. Etna overlooking Catania, Sicily. Courtesy of

Ruins of Caracalla's Baths, Rome. Courtesy of


View of Roman Forum ruins: columns, arch

Roman Forum, Rome. Courtesy of

Mountainous shoreline

Amalfi Coast. Courtesy of


Selected and Annotated By:

Richard Griscom
Music, Italian Language and Literature
griscom @


Website Edited By:

Kelsey LeClair
Specialist in Classical Studies
Administrative Assistant, Penn Libraries
kleclair @


For more information about this and other excursions, visit Penn Alumni Travel.

Film: Open City

Open City (1946) – directed by Roberto Rossellini

Set in a poor section of occupied Rome during World War II, the film tells the story of a partisan priest and a Communist who aid the resistance. It greatly influenced the film noir movement in American cinema in the late 1940s.

Watch the trailer below. 

Film: Roman Holiday

Roman Holiday (1953) – directed by William Wyler and starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck

Hepburn won the Academy Award for best actress in this classic film, which was selected in 1999 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Watch the trailer below.

Film: La Dolce Vita

La Dolce Vita (1961) – directed by Federico Fellini and starring Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, and Anouk Aimée

A film that defined an era. The story of a journalist’s week in Rome and his search for love and happiness. Winner of the 1960 Palme d’or at the Cannes Film Festial.

Watch the trailer below.


Capri Harbor

View of harbour from patio on hill

Capri Harbor. Courtesy of

Art and Architecture

Italian Music

Italy in Modern Fiction


Lake Como overshadowed by the Alps. Courtesy of

Interior of Basilica with arches, columns, and pulpit

Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna. Courtesy of

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