Dante’s Medieval World – Monash University

Status: open

22 Nov – 21 Dec 2015


Dante’s Medieval World – Monash University
Tour Highlights

Course Overview

Institution: Monash University, Faculty of Arts, School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies
Course Code: ATS2957/ATS3957
Course Coordinator: Assoc. Prof. Carolyn James
Prerequisites: At discretion of SOPHIS
Offered: Prato Summer Semester A 2015
Enrolments: available for participants enrolled in an undergraduate course at Monash University or another university; for participants not currently enrolled in an undergraduate degree wishing to take the subject for credit; or for those wishing to travel and attend classes but not wishing to submit essays and give talks (ie as a ‘non-assessed’ audit student). For further details see ‘Application Procedure’.
Assessment: For assessment details, please contact the on-line Monash University undergraduate handbook, searching under ATS2957/ATS3957.

About the Course

Dante’s Medieval World explores the cultural innovations, religious revivals and political confrontations that took place in the urban communities of medieval Europe during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Dante’s Medieval World takes an interdisciplinary view of this dynamic period, exploring the political, social, spiritual, and artistic milieus pertaining to il sommo poeta —‘the supreme poet’— Dante Alighieri (1265–1321) and contemporaries. Taught in the historic town of Prato and its environs, this new course offers a unique opportunity to understand Dante’s literary accomplishment and political activities through direct experience of Dante’s Tuscany and surrounding regions. The horizons of the course extend also beyond Tuscany, in order to offer an understanding of those conditions that influenced Dante’s thought in the context of the broader sweep of European medieval history. The course itinerary includes field trips to Italian cities and towns with strong medieval traditions, such as Bologna, Siena, Pistoia, Assisi, as well as Florence. The first part of Dante’s Medieval World considers the evolution of urban life in medieval Europe, paying particular attention to the forces that helped to shape Dante’s life-world in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. We examine the urban settings that saw the emergence of the Franciscan movement in the thirteenth century: the new mendicant spirituality proposed a vision of religious reform and cultural renewal at a time of emerging political conflict between many north Italian communes and the Holy Roman Empire. As such, the first part of Dante’s Medieval World sets out to investigate the difficult relationship between these urban communes, France, and the Holy Roman Empire, closely observing the enduring material and cultural legacy of these powers within northern Italy. Florence was divided, for example, between those who supported the sovereign claims of the Holy Roman Emperor and those who were partisans of the Pope. Dante’s involvement in this particular dispute led to his famous exile from Florence, the beloved city of his birth, and thus motivated some of his most widely admired works. The city of Prato, where the course is centred, was formed by these complicated times of flourishing international trade, communal rivalry and religious reform, and can be seen proudly identifying with its medieval heritage. The second part of the course focuses especially on the fourteenth century. The life-world of the celebrated merchant of Prato, Francesco di Marco Datini (1330–1410), and his wife Margherita (1360–1423), is a focus, made possible by the riches of the immense archive still preserved in Prato’s fourteenth-century Palazzo Datini. From economic and political points of view, and in terms of urban family life, private life, and spirituality, Datini can be said to epitomise the figure of the successful medieval merchant. Dante’s Divine Comedy combines the lucid beauty of religious and love poetry with an enmity-filled local history of Tuscany. This course will bring to light those vivid contradictions that informed Dante’s experience and his extraordinary literary achievement—Dante’s Medieval World will encompass reflections on the history of love and war, religion and money, politics and papacy, especially through reference to the built environments of medieval Tuscany and its hinterlands.

How the Course Works

The course combines site visits to various Italian cities in Tuscany and beyond with classes and lectures held at the Palazzo Vaj, the Monash Centre in Prato. Course participants will receive a course handbook with a detailed study program, assessment requirements, readings and other resources relevant to the course. Participants who are not enrolled as Monash students will not be required to complete any work for assessment after the course ends, but will participate to the full in all activities during the study program.


Upon successful completion of this unit students will be expected:

  1. to be familiar with the social, political, cultural and religious environment of the world in which Dante lived and formulated his writings
  2. to be familiar with Dante’s Divine Comedy (in translation) and to have an understanding of key themes in the poem.
  3. to be capable of original analysis of a primary document and the location in which it was generated
  4. to formulate an argument and engage in original research
  5. to communicate a historical argument to staff and fellow students
  6. At third-year level, students will be expected to show greater initiative in developing their own research hypothesis and proposal.

Taking this Course for University Credit

This course is an approved elective for Monash University degrees and has a 12 credit-point value. For further information please contact: Assoc. Prof. Carolyn James, School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies Bldg 11, Clayton Campus, Monash University VIC 3800 Tel: 03-9905 3267 Email: carolyn.james@arts.monash.edu.au



Dante’s Medieval World is valued at 12 credit points. In Melbourne the course effectively begins with an orientation session at Monash University (Menzies Bldg, Clayton) prior to departure. All formal lectures and tutorials take place at the Monash University Prato Centre’s Palazzo Vaj, located at Via Pugliese 26 (tel. +39 0574 43691). The detailed itinerary given below provides an outline of the proposed daily program. The content and structure of this program may change; the present itinerary should be used as a guide only.

Meals, Entrance Fees & Public Transport

Buffet breakfast is provided daily for students accommodated at the Flora mini-apartments. Breakfast is NOT provided for students staying at the Residence Calamai apartments. Breakfast is provided at First Hotel Malpensa. The course price includes 5 evening meals in various restaurants in Prato (indicated in the itinerary where D=evening meal). Meals do not include beverages (eg mineral water, coffee or alcohol). All entrance fees and public transport within cities as indicated on the official program are included in the course price.

Departure Ex Australia

Saturday 21 November 2015, Depart Melbourne

Participants are requested to commence check-in procedures at the international terminal, Tullamarine airport, two and half hours prior to departure. Singapore Airlines flight SQ228 is currently scheduled to depart Melbourne for Singapore at 1640hrs. Participants must check-in with a Monash staff member after passing through passport control. On arrival in Singapore at 2120hrs, students will be required to transfer to flight SQ366, departing Singapore at 0110hrs (1.10am in the morning of Sunday 22 November 2015). SQ366 is currently scheduled to arrive in Rome at 0715hrs on 22 November 2015.

Prato - 28 nights

Day 1: Sunday 22 November, Rome – Prato
  • Transfer by private coach to Prato and the Calamai Riverside Apartments/Flora mini-apartments.
  • 7:00 pm Group Meal in a local restaurant in Prato (1) D
Day 2: Monday 23 November, Prato
  • Palazzo Vaj: Orientation and Lecture
Day 3: Tuesday 24 November, Prato – Florence – Prato (by train)
  • Excursion to San Miniato al Monte and familiarisation tour through Florence (Departure 9:00 am from the train station Porta al Serraglio, Prato)
Day 4: Wednesday 25 November, Prato
  • 9:00-10:00 am Lecture: Roman Traditions and the Romanesque
  • 10:00-11:00 am Lecture: Introduction to Dante’s Divine Comedy
  • 11:30 am-12:30 pm Tutorial: Dante’s Divine Comedy
Day 5: Thursday 26 November, Prato – Bologna – Prato (by coach)
  • Visit to Santo Stefano
  • Walking tour of the city with focus on the Two Towers
Day 6: Friday 27 November, Prato
  • 9:00-10:00 am Lecture 3: Prato: Civic and Religious Traditions
  • 10:00-11:00 am The religious and civic geography of Prato – Walking Tour
  • 4:00-5:00 pm Lecture: Religious Sensibility in the Divine Comedy
  • 5:00-6:00pm Tutorial: Dante’s Divine Comedy
  • 7:00 pm Group Meal in a local restaurant in Prato (2) D
Day 7: Saturday 28 November, Prato – Florence – Prato (by train)
  • Visit to Florence’s Duomo, the Baptistery of San Giovanni and the church of Santa Maria Novella
Day 8: Sunday 29 November, Prato (at leisure)
Day 9: Monday 30 November, Prato – Pistoia – Prato
  • 9:00-10:00 am Lecture: Virgil and the Divine Comedy
  • 10:00-11:00 am Tutorial: Dante’s Divine Comedy
  • 11:30 am-12:30 pm Pre-visit briefing for Pistoia
  • 2:30 pm Departure from Porta al Serraglio station (Prato) for trip to Pistoia
Day 10: Tuesday 1 December, Prato
  • 9:00-10:00 am Lecture: Dante, Ethics and Love: Romance, Theology and Poetry
  • 10:00-11:00 am Lecture: The Visual Context of Dante’s World
  • 11:30 am-12:30 pm Tutorial: Dante’s Divine Comedy
Day 11: Wednesday 2 December, Prato
  • 900-10:00 am Lecture: Giotto and his contemporaries
  • 10:00-11:00 am Tutorial: Dante and Giotto
Day 12: Thursday 3 December, Prato
  • 9:00-10:00 am Lecture: Religious Reform and the Mendicant Orders
  • 10:00 am-11:00 pm Tutorial: St Francis and St Clare of Assisi
  • 7:00 pm Group Meal in a local restaurant in Prato (3) D
Day 13: Friday 4 December, Prato – Assisi – Prato (by coach)
  • Basilica of San Francesco and Basilica of Santa Chiara
Day 14: Saturday 5 December, Prato (at leisure)
Day 15: Sunday 6 December, Prato (at leisure)
Day 16: Monday 7 December, Prato
  • 9:00-10:00 am Lecture: Siena and Florence: urban culture and civic rivalries in the 14th century
  • 10:00 am-12:00 noon Lecture: St Catherine of Siena
  • 2:00-3:00 pm Tutorial: The Writings of St Catherine of Siena
Day 17: Tuesday 8 December, Prato
  • Program to be advised
Day 18: Wednesday 9 December, Prato – Siena – Prato (by coach)
  • Siena: program to be advised
  • Symposium and evening keynote lecture (details to be announced closer to the time of departure)
Day 19: Thursday 10 December, Prato (Study Day)
Day 20: Friday 11 December, Prato (Study Day)
  • 7:00 pm Group Meal in a local restaurant in Prato (4) D
Day 21: Saturday 12 December, Prato (at leisure)
Day 22: Sunday 13 December, Prato (at leisure)
Day 23: Monday 14 December, Prato
  • 9:00-10:00 am Lecture: Urban Life in Prato and Florence in the second half of the 14th century
  • 10:00-11:00 am The Datini Correspondence
  • 11:30 am-12:30 pm The Letters of Margherita Datini
Day 24: Tuesday 15 December, Prato
  • 9:00 am Visit to the house of Francesco Datini in Prato and to the Archivio di Stato in the same building
  • 11:00 am Visit to San Francesco and Datini’s tomb
Day 25: Wednesday 16 December, Prato
  • 9:00-10:00 am Lecture (Title to be advised)
  • 10:00-11:00 am Tutorial: Dante’s Divine Comedy
Day 26: Thursday 17 December, Prato – Florence – Prato (by train)
  • Visit to Palazzo Davanzati
Day 27: Friday 18 December, Prato
  • Document test and essay consultations
  • 7:00 pm Farewell Group Meal in a local restaurant in Prato (5) D
Day 28: Saturday 19 December, Prato (at leisure)

Malpensa airport (Milan) - 1 night

Day 29: Sunday 20 December, Prato – Milan Malpensa
  • Prato to First Hotel Malpensa (Milan) by coach
Day 30: Monday 21 December, Course Ends
  • Flight departs Malpensa Airport (Milan); Complimentary Airport Shuttle Bus

Participants returning to Australia will take a shuttle bus from the First Hotel Malpensa to the airport terminal after breakfast on Monday 21 December, in order to commence check-in for their return flight to Melbourne. The return group flights to Australia with Singapore Airlines are currently scheduled to operate as follows: Depart Milan Malpensa on flight SQ367 at 1115hrs. Arrive Singapore at 0555hrs on Tuesday 22 December and transfer to flight SQ207, which departs at 0740, arriving into Melbourne at 1815hrs on 22 December 2015.



30 days in Italy

Prato (28 nights) – Accommodation in PRATO will be provided either at the Calamai Residence mini-apartments or at the Flora mini-apartments.

  • Calamai Riverside Apartments, Prato
    Viale Galilei 31 Prato 59100
    Tel/Fax: +39 0574 22205
    Located on the first floor of a semi-converted textile mill & factory, which still maintains its historical façade. The apartments are located 5-10 min. walk from the Porta Serraglio Railway Station, and 15-min. walk from Monash University’s Centre and Prato’s historical centre. Each apartment accommodates between 3-5 people and generally consists of 2 single beds upstairs, and 2 or 3 sofa beds downstairs. Each apartment is open plan, divided by a mezzanine floor (accessed by a steep staircase) and is made up of: kitchen (with oven, hotplates & fridge), living area (with dining table, TV & sitting area), 2 bathrooms (one on each floor, each with shower, toilet and sink), 3-5 five single/sofa beds. Facilities include: fibre-optic Wi-Fi, heating, air-conditioning, TV, weekly linen change, communal laundry available on site. Note: Apartments do not include breakfast, daily cleaning, linen is changed on a weekly basis. A steep staircase dividing the kitchen area with the upstairs bedroom makes these apartments less suitable for anyone unsteady on their feet.
  • Hotel Flora Mini-Apartments, Prato
    Via Cairoli, 31 Prato 59100
    Tel:  +39 0574 33521
    Fax: +39 0574 400289
    The Flora offers a total of 6 mini-apartments located in residential buildings, in via Firenzuola, within 2-5 minutes walk from the Monash Centre. All apartments have a living/bedroom, bathroom with shower, kitchenette (organised for cooking with some pots, plates, cutlery, glasses, etc., as well as some cleaning facilities), air-conditioning, TV, Wi-Fi Connection. The apartments do not include daily cleaning; linen is changed on a weekly basis. Additional services are available only 100 meters away at the Hotel Flora. All accommodation at Flora mini-apartments is inclusive of daily buffet breakfast served at the Hotel Flora.

Milan Malpensa Airport (1 night) 

  • 4-star First Hotel Malpensa
    Via Baracca, 34 21019 Case Nuove – Somma Lombardo (VA)
    Tel: +39 0331 717045
    Fax: +39 0331 230827
    4-star modern hotel located near the Malpensa Airport, halfway between Terminal 1 (800m distance) and Terminal 2 (1km distance). It provides a free shuttle service to the airport between 5.00am-12.00am. The hotel offers 60 sound-proof and air-conditioned rooms equipped with en-suite bathroom (incl. hairdryer), mini-bar, satellite TV, direct-dial telephone, internet connection & safe. Facilities: restaurant & lobby bar.
How to book

How to Book

Application Procedure

1. Application to Faculty of Arts
Applications open: Monday 2 February 2015.
Applications close: 4pm, 27 March 2015.

Students should first apply to the Faculty of Arts by following the application procedure outlined on the Arts in Prato website (see link below). The Faculty of Arts will assess your application and email you the outcome within approximately six weeks.
For more information about the application process see http://artsonline.monash.edu.au/prato/
For eligibility criteria see http://artsonline.monash.edu.au/study-overseas/eligibility-requirements/
For questions, contact the Arts in Prato Coordinator (arts-prato@monash.edu or +61 3 9905 8743)

2. Complete and sign ASA Course Reservation Application
Once your application has been endorsed by the Faculty of Arts, download, complete and sign the ASA Course Reservation Application from the ASA website.
You will find a link to this document marked ‘Reservation’ under ‘PDF downloads’. There is also a copy at the end of the PDF ‘Itinerary’ document.

3. Send your ASA Course Reservation Application and $500 deposit payment to ASA.
Within 10 days of your application being endorsed by the Faculty of Arts, send your completed, signed ASA Course Reservation Application to mary@asatours.com.au together with your deposit payment of AUD $500.00 per person.
Please see the final page of the ASA Course Reservation Application for details on how to pay by cheque, direct deposit or credit card.

Please note the following:

  • In order to secure your place in the course you MUST complete the above procedure. You will not be fully enrolled in the course until you have completed the necessary application and enrolment procedure with Monash University AND returned your completed form and deposit payment to ASA.
  • If you wish to apply to Monash for a study grant or other financial assistance, this must be done directly with the University. Please note that students usually do not receive these payments until after the final tour payment to ASA is due.
  • No participant may travel without travel insurance.
Practical Information

Practical Information

The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, six to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.

This 30-day course involves:
  • 28 nights in Prato staying in 4 or 3-bedded apartments; 1 night in a 4-star hotel in Milan (Malpensa airport) staying in twin-share or triple-share rooms
  • an extensive amount of walking to site visits, often up and down hills and/or flights of stairs, along cobbled streets and uneven terrain. You therefore need to be a good walker and be prepared to stand for some time on site and in front of buildings
  • A mixture of intercity coach travel and use of public transport
  • some early-morning starts (between 7.30-9.00 am)
  • porterage is not included; participants MUST be able to carry their own luggage.

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you. Please note: it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the ASA Course Reservation Application Form.

Practical Information

Prior to departure, participants will receive practical notes which include information on visa requirements, health, photography, weather, clothing and what to pack, custom regulations, bank hours, currency regulations, electrical appliances and food. The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers to Italy see: www.smartraveller.gov.au

Tour Price & Inclusions

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $5980.00  Course Price including return economy class airfare*
AUD $250.00    Twin Supplement
AUD $985.00    Single Supplement
AUD $450.00    Audit Fee Supplement (applicable to participants not taking this subject as part of their university degree)

Course Price includes:
  • Return airfare economy class with Singapore Airlines including taxes to the value of $985.00 AUD (21 Nov 2015: Melbourne-Singapore-Rome; 21 Dec 2015: Milan-Singapore-Melbourne)
  • 28 nights accommodation in Prato at the Calamai Riverside Apartments (breakfast not included); or if paying the twin or single supplement, at the Flora mini-apartments (includes buffet breakfast served at the Hotel Flora)
  • 1 night at the First Hotel, Milan Malpensa inclusive of buffet breakfast & complimentary airport shuttle service
  • 5 evening meals as indicated in the itinerary where D = evening meal
  • Rail travel from Prato to Florence and Pistoia
  • Arrival airport transfer from Rome Fiumicino Airport to Prato
  • Full day excursions by coach: Bologna, Assisi, Siena; transfer Prato to Milan Malpensa
  • Academic program as outlined in the itinerary
  • Course Handbook
  • Entrances to museums and galleries outlined in the itinerary
  • Tips for the coach driver and restaurants for included meals.
Course Price does not include:
  • Breakfast in Prato if staying at the Calamai Riverside Apartments
  • Lunches and evening meals not indicated in the course itinerary
  • Drinks (e.g. mineral water, coffee & alcoholic beverages) with lunches & evening meals
  • Personal spending money
  • Airport-hotel transfers if not travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights with Singapore Airlines
  • Luggage in excess of 20 kg (44 lbs)
  • Travel insurance
  • Porterage
  • HECS-HELP fees
Tour Map

Tour Map

Terms & Conditions

A deposit of $500.00 AUD per person is required to reserve a place on an ASA tour.

Confirmation of Your Booking

When we have received your ASA Course Reservation Application Form together with the deposit or full payment for the course, and assuming there is a place available on the course, we will send you confirmation of your booking and relevant travel details. It is from this moment that a firm contract exists between you and Australians Studying Abroad Pty Ltd (hereafter called ASA) on the basis of this itinerary, together with ASA’s general brochure, and any brochure or itinerary amendments communicated to you, these booking conditions and the travel details sent to you. If a place is not available we will return your payment. ASA does however reserve the right to refuse to accept a booking without necessarily giving a reason.

Cancellation Fees

Refund of deposit, less $385.00 service fee ($350.00 + $35.00 GST) per person, will be given when cancellation is made before Friday 24 July 2015. Your deposit is non-refundable after this date. If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • 24 July 2015-76 days prior $500.00 deposit – non refundable
  • 75-46 days prior 25% of total amount due
  • 45-31 days prior 50% of total amount due
  • 30-15 days prior 75% of total amount due
  • 14-0 days prior 100% of total amount due

We take the day on which you cancel as being that on which we receive written confirmation of cancellation.

Unused Portions of the Course

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the course, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Will the Tour Price or Itinerary Change?

If the number of participants on this course is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates or airfare taxes ASA reserves the right to amend the advertised price. We shall, however, do all in our power to maintain the published price. If an ASA tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all tour monies paid. Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of ASA make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes in due course.

If Monash University Cancels the Course

In the event the academic program be cancelled as a result of Monash University, in response to Federal Government travel advice, designating the locations of the program to be unsafe: participants will be charged the cancellation fees as indicated in these booking conditions (refer to the paragraph ‘Cancellation Fees’).

Travel Insurance

Monash University will provide travel insurance for all students completing the course as part of a Monash degree. Other participants will need to organise their own insurance. A copy of your travel insurance certificate and the reverse charge emergency contact phone number must be received by ASA no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the course.

Passport Details

All participants must provide no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the program a photocopy of the front page of their current passport.

Final Payment

The balance of the tour price will be due 75 days prior to the tour commencement date.

Payment by Credit Card

Payment by credit card will incur the following card service fees:

  • Mastercard, Visa or Bankcard: 1.95%
  • American Express: 1.95%
  • Diners Club: 2.7%
Limitation of Liability

ASA is not a carrier, event or tourist attraction host, accommodation or dining service provider. All bookings made and tickets or coupons issued by ASA for transport, event, accommodation, dining and the like are issued as an agent for various service providers and are subject to the terms and conditions and limitations of liability imposed by each service provider. ASA is not responsible for their products or services. If a service provider does not deliver the product or service for which you have contracted, your remedy lies with the service provider, not ASA. ASA will not be liable for any claim (eg. sickness, injury, death, damage or loss) arising from any change, delay, detention, breakdown, cancellation, failure, accident, act, omission or negligence of any such service provider however caused (contingencies). You must take out adequate travel insurance against such contingencies. ASA’s liability in respect of any tour will be limited to the refund of amounts received from you less all non-refundable costs and charges and the costs of any substituted event or alternate services provided. The terms and conditions of the relevant service provider from time to time comprise the sole agreement between you and that service provider. ASA reserves the sole discretion to cancel any tour or to modify itineraries in any way it considers appropriate. Tour costs may be revised, subject to unexpected price increases or exchange rate fluctuations.

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