The Guide to Essential Italy [TTC Video]

The Guide to Essential Italy [TTC Video]
The Guide to Essential Italy [TTC Video] by Kenneth R Bartlett
Course No 3032 | MP4, AVC, 784 kbps, 1024x576 | AAC, 68 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 6.45GB

“You may have the universe, if I may have Italy.“ — Giuseppe Verdi

Anyone who is familiar with Italy—its glorious architecture, epic history, exquisite fine arts, and majestic landscape—understands Verdi’s passionate words. For centuries, Italy has been an irresistible magnet for people from all corners of the world, attracting the most illustrious men and women of every age as well as visitors from every walk of life. Today, it remains a mecca for cultural travelers, uplifting, fascinating, and enchanting all who travel there.

But what is behind Italy’s remarkable appeal? What makes this country such an inexhaustible place of discovery, unforgettable to so many?

Historically, Italy is one of the central fonts of Western culture, as the center of the Roman Empire, the cradle of Christianity, and the place where the Renaissance flowered. The sheer geographical density of masterpieces of art is one of the marvels of the world. Italy contains a stunning mix of history, architecture, art, and culture, all within settings of astonishing beauty. From its fabulous panorama of history and art, dating from ancient times to the modern, to its luminous landscapes and incalculable jewels of architecture, it would be hard to exaggerate the riches of this extraordinary country.

  • Rome — A majestic, one-stop compendium of Western civilization, encompassing wonders from the ancient Palace of Domitian and the great Colosseum to landmarks of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the modern era in multilayered profusion
  • Assisi — The lovely Umbrian hill town whose Church of St. Francis is one of the greatest monuments in European art
  • Florence — A matchless treasure house of Renaissance, Gothic, and Baroque art and architecture, where the masterworks of Michelangelo, Bernini, Brunelleschi, Caravaggio, and numerous others abound
  • Pompeii — An amazingly preserved ancient time capsule, revealing the intimate realities of daily life in the Roman Empire
  • Venice — A city that is itself a sublime work of art, and whose magical waterways and exquisite architecture give us one of the world’s most romantic and historically rich destinations

The Great Courses, in collaboration with the renowned Smithsonian, brings you The Guide to Essential Italy, your own grand tour of Italy that focuses on the most historically and artistically compelling sites. A world expert in cultural travel for over 45 years, Smithsonian Journeys, the Institution’s worldwide travel program, has created an Italian itinerary that has been honed over time to present a fascinating picture of this amazing destination. With their experts, we created a circuit that explores some of the most culturally significant landmarks, gives the opportunity to view countless impressive masterworks of artistic genius, and examines the impact of Italian history on the rest of the world. A breathtaking travel journey, this 36-segment course is a video tour and travelogue that lets you walk the streets and savor the heritage of Italy’s premiere destinations of Rome, Tuscany, and Venice, with side trips to additional treasures of Italian civilization.

The Guide to Essential Italy is a specially tailored journey of a kind no guidebook anywhere can offer—a personally guided tour that lets you explore the most famous and culturally important sites: splendorous palaces, grand piazzas, dazzling statuary, glorious cathedrals and churches, monumental artworks, and much more. In the process, you’ll take time to visit hidden gems and less traveled byways, and to make unusual and fascinating discoveries.

Your guide is Professor Kenneth R. Bartlett of the University of Toronto, an esteemed historian and scholar who knows these remarkable places in intimate detail, having traveled to Italy every year since 1970. As a cultural tour leader there for decades, Professor Bartlett knows Italy like few others do, and demonstrates a special talent for uncovering its most memorable historic, cultural, and artistic riches.

Professor Bartlett introduces you to the essential sites of these incredible cities, using location footage from the Smithsonian Journeys program as well as plenty of detailed maps so that you always know exactly where you are. In superbly illuminating commentary, he reveals the history and cultural significance of these places in detail, and offers viewing tips for appreciating what you’ll experience—whether you’re planning a trip to Italy, thinking of traveling there, or would simply like to discover this superlative culture from your armchair. Each lecture in this course is organized as a detailed walking tour, which you can take with you and listen to as you walk through the vias of Italy, as well as follow and enjoy as a spectacular visual journey from the comfort of home. Plus, the Smithsonian provides travel advice that appears at the end of every lecture: dozens of expert suggestions for off-the-beaten-path opportunities to explore more about the art, architecture, history, culture, and landscape. These tips build upon the professor’s vivid insights and offer fresh nuances to consider.

The Eternal City

Your Italian journey begins in the phenomenal urban landscape of Rome. In a full fourteen lectures on this center of Western civilization, you’ll delve into historic treasures such as these:

  • At sites such as the Forum Romanum, the Colosseum, the Claudian aqueduct, and the massive Baths of Diocletian, appreciate the majesty and power of the Roman Empire as well its astounding feats of architecture and engineering.
  • Explore great Renaissance and Baroque palaces evoking the lavish opulence of the Roman nobility, including the Chigi Palace and Palazzo Borghese, among the grandest private houses in all of Rome, and the Villa Farnesina,one of Rome’s most glorious jewels.
  • Among triumphs of civic architecture, admire theCampidoglio, Michelangelo’s masterpiece of urban planning; the Piazza Navona, crowned by Bernini’s spectacular Fountain of the Four Rivers; and the 19th-century Victor Emmanuel Monument.
  • Experience the splendor of the Roman church at the Capitoline, the papal basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano, the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace and Basilica of St. Peter, and Bernini’s superlative Cornaro Chapel.

Florence and Tuscany

Here, embark on the glorious Florentine streets as you uncover the dramatic history of the city-state and savor the masterworks of art that have defined Florence for the ages.

  • Chart the development of the Florentine republic at sites such as the majestic Bargello and Palazzo della Signoria; stand in awe of the Medici monarchy at the Palazzo Vecchio, Fortezza da Basso, and the Chapel of the Princes;
  • View Botticelli and da Vinci at the renownedGalleria degli Uffizi, Rubens and Raphael at the Palazzo Pitti, and the genius of Michelangelo at the Accademia, all among the greatest repositories of art in the world.
  • Admire the extraordinary Duomo, whose dome is one of the wonders of the entire Renaissance; Ghiberti’s golden doors for the Baptistery, which Michelangelo declared worthy to be the Gates of Paradise; and the Boboli Gardens, among the most uniquely beautiful gardens on earth.
  • On your way to Florence, stop at the hill towns of Orvieto, noted for its religious architecture; Siena, where you’ll enjoy the most beautiful piazza in all of Italy; and San Gimignano, with its celebrated medieval towers.

Venice: “La Serenissima”

In the course’s final section, you’ll experience the ethereal beauty and historic magnificence of Venice, a city like none other in the world.

  • Investigate the history and ethos of the Venetian republic and its trading empire, as you view triumphal public architecture on the Molo of Venice, the Piazzetta San Marco, and the Piazza San Marco, attesting to Venetian glory and independence.
  • Explore the Gothic masterpiece of the Doge’s Palace, with its resplendent decoration exalting the Venetian state, and the Byzantine-style Basilica of San Marco, with its exquisite Door of the Flowers, elaborately adorned façade, and transcendent gilded interior.
  • Travel by vaporetto on Venice’s romantic canals and waterways, and visit wondrous churches constructed by merchants to proclaim their power and influence, sumptuous Baroque palaces and waterside museums, and imposing commercial buildings from Venice’s maritime past.
  • Walk the winding backstreets of this most dreamlike of cities, and discover jewels such as the beloved Rialto bridge, the splendid Augustinian church of San Stefano, and the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, a treasure trove of art and one of Venice’s greatest wonders.

A Journey to the Heart of Italian Culture

As a notable benefit of the course’s walking tours, you’ll discover exceptional gems that most tours don’t have time for. You’ll encounter the remarkable “talking statues” of Rome, explore daily life in a Florentine Renaissance palace, and visit the prison cell in Venice where Casanova was held—until, of course, he escaped!

Vivid 3-D maps allow for clear understanding of the sites, and special-access video footage takes you inside museums, numerous architectural landmarks, and brings alive additional side trips to the volcanic ruins of Pompeii and the idyllic hill towns of Arezzo and Perugia. Each lecture includes the Smithsonian’s travel insights, which are carefully crafted to lead you deeper into Italian art and culture with additional on-the-ground experiences.

In The Guide to Essential Italy, you’ll travel through the towering human achievements and the ravishing beauties of this extraordinary country—its incomparable art, romantic streets and piazzas, glories of architecture, and multifaceted history. These 36 richly enjoyable lectures form a unique resource for both the traveler and the appreciator of an endlessly fascinating culture.

The Guide to Essential Italy [TTC Video]

The Mysterious Etruscans [TTC Video]

The Mysterious Etruscans [TTC Video]
The Mysterious Etruscans [TTC Video] by Steven L Tuck
Course No 3421 | MP4, AVC, 1280x720 | AAC, 192 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 9.1GB

How much do you know about the Etruscans? Many people, even those who are fascinated by ancient history, are less familiar with this intriguing culture than with the history of Greece and Rome—but the story of the Etruscans is equally captivating and far more important than you may have known. This ancient civilization prospered in the region of modern-day Tuscany, maintaining extensive trade networks, building impressive fortified cities, making exquisite art, and creating a culture that, while deeply connected to the Greeks and Romans, had striking contrasts.

The Etruscans were the original inhabitants of central Italy. Centuries before the rise of Rome, they built cities such as Pompeii, Capua, and Orvieto along fortified hilltops. They developed a system of roads and invented what we call the Roman arch. While they had their own system of government, their own myths and legends, and their own cultural attributes, the Etruscans imported and repurposed much from the Greeks—and, in turn, gave much to the Romans.

Etruscan culture acted as a conduit, transmitting Greek art, mythology, language, and cultural icons to Rome, but it also had many unique elements that the Romans later adopted. You might be surprised to find out how much of Roman civilization—from togas to bronze military armor to Rome itself—actually has Etruscan origins. The Etruscans are largely responsible for:

  • transmitting the alphabet, and therefore writing, to the Romans and other ancient societies as far away as the Nordic regions
  • granting Rome much of its celebrated architecture and infrastructure, from the Cloaca Maxima water-control system to the storied arch
  • developing exquisite works of bronze and terra-cotta, as well as mesmerizing tomb paintings
  • creating well-known symbols of republican government—imagery that still lives on in U.S. government buildings like the Lincoln Memorial
  • engaging in sports and spectacles such as chariot racing and gladiatorial combat

Without the Etruscans, much of what we associate with the Roman world, and thus the foundations of Western civilization, would largely disappear. The Mysterious Etruscans is your opportunity to discover this astounding culture and fill in a critical gap in your understanding of the ancient world. Taught by Dr. Steven Tuck, an award-winning Professor of Classics at Miami University, these 24 fascinating lectures give you an inside look into a seldom-studied but vitally important history.

Explore This Culture through Historical Detective Work

Little from Etruscan society remains unchanged, which means that to flesh out more than a bare-bones description, we must rely on deductions from the artworks, records, and tombs that survive. Part Sherlock Holmes, part CSI detective, Professor Tuck compiles the evidence to build the case for who the Etruscans were and what impact they made on the world around them. Over the course of his investigation, he considers questions such as:

  • Where did the Etruscans come from? Did they migrate to the region from Asia Minor, or were they autochthonous—that is, did they spring up in from the region itself? Consider the evidence from primary sources such as Herodotus and the Aeneid, and compare it to the results of modern DNA research.
  • What can we deduce from their tombs? Funeral practices are slow to change in any society, and therefore tell us much about how a civilization viewed itself in relation to the cosmos, as well as its cultural beliefs and priorities. Professor Tuck takes you inside the Etruscans’ famous “cities of the dead,” where you’ll discover a great deal about Etruscan culture among the living.
  • Was Rome actually an Etruscan city? The Etruscans built a number of city-states on fortified hills, much like the geography of Rome. Professor Tuck examines the rulers and customs of Rome, as well as its urban design, to show why it isn’t too far-fetched to suggest that the city actually has Etruscan origins.
  • Where did the Etruscans go? Because we know the Etruscans are no longer here, we might assume they gradually folded into Roman culture. Take a look at their final years as a distinct culture—and how the Romans appropriated and repurposed much of what was uniquely Etruscan.

Go Inside the Public and Private Lives of the Etruscans

Beyond their influence on Roman culture, the Etruscans are fascinating in their own right. Their family structures alone make them unique among ancient civilizations. For instance, unlike women in Greek or Roman societies, Etruscan women enjoyed relative equality with men—appearing in public and at social gatherings.

One of the most popular forms of social entertainment was the banquet. The Etruscans held banquets to honor the dead, celebrate military victory, and worship the gods, among other reasons. As you’ll discover, other societies often viewed the Etruscans as decadent and immoral with all those women out in public, but the Etruscans had different—and, we might say, ahead of their time—cultural beliefs and priorities.

Although original Etruscan cities have largely been built over, Professor Tuck is able to take us inside their homes by looking at the current city foundations as well as the Etruscan necropolises—literal cities of the dead fashioned to mirror their cities for the living. This evidence gives us crucial insight into the Etruscans’ sophisticated family structure, as well as their views on children, religion, and more.

Gain a New Perspective on the Ancient World

The Etruscans built an impressive trade network across the Mediterranean. As such, they were able to import much from the Greeks, the Phoenicians, and other societies and bring it to central Italy and the Romans. One of the delights of this course is seeing how the Etruscans took cultural motifs from elsewhere, modified them, and made them their own. For example, you’ll see how they borrowed extensively from Greek mythology and adapted it for their own religious practices.

You’ll also see how Etruscan culture influenced the larger world around them. One dramatic example is their art, craftsmanship, and metalworking. Tomb paintings, portraits, terra-cotta vessels, and other pieces give us insight into the process of artistic creation and the way art reflects, and in some cases informs, society. Meanwhile, the Etruscan traditions of bronze sculptures, military armor, and more were picked up by the Romans and revived in the Renaissance.

Although they are too often ignored by today’s history enthusiasts, the Etruscans had complex religious, social, and governmental customs; built an incredible trade network; and created exquisite and advanced arts and architecture. Their stories may have been overshadowed by their outsized neighbors, but now, The Mysterious Etruscans gives you the chance to fill in those eye-opening details and learn about one of the most interesting civilizations omitted by the history books.

The Mysterious Etruscans [TTC Video]

A History of India [TTC Video]

A History of India [TTC Video]
A History of India [TTC Video] by Michael H Fisher
Course No 8350 | .MP4, AVC, 1024x576 | AAC, 70 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 7.5GB

India is home to some of the world’s oldest, greatest, and most successful civilizations. Today the South Asian subcontinent contains 20 percent of the world’s population and is a thriving center for global business. Over the next decade, India alone is expected to surpass China in population, making this region one of most significant economic powerhouses in the world.

Beyond the globalization of the 21st century, the region has always played a critical role on the world stage. Over the past 5,000 years, the subcontinent has been home to a rich tapestry of peoples and cultures. Two of the world’s great religions—Hinduism and Buddhism—as well as some of humanity’s most significant wisdom literature all have their origins in South Asia. And with its strategic location and unique geography, the lands east of the Indus River have long been a central hub for trade, migration, and cultural exchange.

Go inside this thrilling story with A History of India, a breathtaking survey of South Asia from its earliest societies along the Indus and Ganges rivers through the modern challenges of the 21st century. Taught by Professor Michael H. Fisher of Oberlin College, these 36 sweeping lectures enable you to understand the epic scope of the subcontinent’s history. Perhaps the most important facet of this history is how diverse the region truly is. Roughly the size of continental Europe, India—along with its neighbors Pakistan and Bangladesh—contains a myriad of ethnic groups, socioeconomic classes, religions, and cultural mores.

What’s more, the subcontinent has seldom been unified under a single empire or government, making its history complicated and difficult to navigate. With the expert guidance of Professor Fisher, you will:

  • See how geography and climate shaped the development of its civilizations—sometimes facilitating contact between groups, but often isolating them, which entrenched local cultural and governance systems.
  • Trace the migration of varied peoples over the mountains from Asia and Europe, as well as in through the coasts, creating areas of dynamic cultural exchange.
  • Delve into the legacies of the Mauryan Empire, the Mughal Empire, and British colonialism, three of the few governments that ever unified the subcontinent.
  • Witness the fight for independence from European powers and the partition of the region into the countries of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh in the 20th century.
  • Review some of the largest challenges and opportunities faced by this area today, from expanding urbanization to the vast need for energy sources to the ongoing, heated political and ideological debates about national identity.

Professor Fisher reveals this complex narrative with skill and compelling insights. By the end of A History of India, you will understand the full scope of the region, its people, and its cultures, across time and today.

Discover Diverse Cultures with Complex Origins

Professor Fisher takes you back to reflect on the very beginning of human history, shedding light on the earliest societies on the subcontinent:

  • the Adivasi forest dwellers
  • the urban civilizations in the Indus Valley
  • the Vedic cultures that were the ancient cultural forebears of today’s Hindus

Few artifacts have survived to tell us about these societies, so scholars have relied on DNA evidence and linguistic analysis to provide clues about their mysterious origins. Much of our cultural understanding of ancient India has been passed down in two national epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. While not strictly fact-based histories as Westerners understand the term, these texts give us remarkable insight into the origins and development of India’s history, particularly the Vedic tradition.

One of the most fascinating topics of this course is its overview of the subcontinent’s religions, starting with the Vedic cultures. Hinduism is the religion of those who revere the Vedas as sacred truth, and this tradition had and continues to have a profoundly deep influence on South Asian societies, governments, and even economies. The rise, expansion, and influence of Jainism, Buddhism, and Islam occurred in dialogue with the Hindu ethos, and you’ll come to understand how these religions served the needs of many who felt disenfranchised by the dominant milieu. You’ll also uncover the lives of Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians (Parsis) who created thriving communities that endured for centuries, mostly in trading ports. Professor Fisher skillfully offers both an “etic” and an “emic” perspective—that is, history as it is understood from our perspective as outsiders and history as it is known within the culture—which ultimately yields a comprehensive, nuanced, and multi-voiced account of South Asia’s story.

Professor Fisher unpacks these nuances and offers profound insight into some of the great religions found on the subcontinent:

  • Learn about the Vedas and how the idea of the “cosmic man” gives division and order to social classes (“castes”).
  • Gain wisdom from the Bhagavad Gita and see why it is one of the world’s best-known texts.
  • Find out why the economic and political situation in the year 500 B.C.E. led to the rise of new religions such as Jainism and Buddhism.
  • Meet Siddhartha Gautama and follow the growth of Buddhism across Asia.
  • Consider why Islam spread so mightily throughout the subcontinent—and what the current status of Muslims is throughout the region.

Navigate a Bustling Political and Economic Hub

Because of its size and diversity, South Asia traditionally has been divided into numerous kingdoms. Nonetheless, its strategic location has also made the subcontinent an important trading center and economic hub. For instance, the Silk Road connecting China with Europe had a branch that ran through northern India. And in the 15th century, when Vasco da Gama sailed around the horn of Africa, he landed on India’s coasts, ushering in a new era of global commerce.

Professor Fisher takes you through a series of developments as people from around the world migrate in and out of the subcontinent, leading to great political upheavals as well as economic and cultural exchange.

  • Watch as myriad invaders travel through the Khyber Pass from Afghanistan to set up—or conquer—kingdoms in India.
  • Investigate how Islam spread so quickly throughout South Asia, leading to many years of sultanate rule, and examine how this new paradigm changed social relations and patterns of governance across the region.
  • Peer into the reign of the Mauryans, starting with Chandragupta, who consolidated the subcontinent’s first major empire, and continuing with the rule of his grandson, the renowned Buddhist Emperor Ashoka.
  • Witness the beginnings of the Mughal empire, as a Central Asian warrior named Babur conquered the Delhi sultanate, and follow the rise and fall of this dynasty, tracing the lives of the emperors Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan (who created the gorgeous Peacock Throne and the Taj Mahal), and Alamgir.
  • Reflect on the religious, social, and economic differences between northern India, the Deccan Plateau, and the many southern kingdoms.
  • Follow the development of European trade and colonialism, including multiple East India companies, and consider how their practices affected the local economy and politics.
  • Explore the circumstances that led to the British crown claiming rule over India, and consider the lasting consequences of the Raj for the subcontinent.

Over the past 100 years, the region has seen some astonishing developments. British rule may have unified the subcontinent, but racist policies and economic siphoning of resources did much damage to the spirit and economy of India. From the 1857 sepoy uprising through the chaotic events that led to independence and partition in 1947, Professor Fisher takes you inside the Indian and Pakistani nationalist movements.

You’ll explore the legacies of key nationalist leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, Subhas Chandra Bose, and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and you’ll see how the quest for independence was not only a political movement—but also a question of ethnic and religious identity. Finally, you’ll also travel the world to consider the lives of Indians in Europe, Africa, and elsewhere—and how Indians in Britain often fared better than Indians under British rule on the subcontinent.

Explore India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh Today

Following the independence and partition of India and Pakistan (which was divided into East and West Pakistan) in 1947, you’ll witness great turbulence as each nation struggled to develop its own system of government in the wake of British colonialism.

In India, you’ll trace the recent history of what is now the world’s largest democracy, from Prime Minister Nehru’s five-year economic plans to boost food production through the rule of Indira Gandhi and her sons. You’ll gain new perspective on the State of Emergency in the 1970s, the three wars with Pakistan and insurrections in tribal regions, and the outlook of India’s government today.

Meanwhile, in modern-day Pakistan and Bangladesh, you’ll explore the development of their Islamic governments, witness numerous coups and shifts of power, and reflect on some of the key crisis points in recent years, from the 1971 split of East Pakistan into Bangladesh to Pakistan’s nuclear arms race with India to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

In the end, Professor Fisher projects what might be on the horizon for each of these nations. It is clear that South Asia is on the verge of another great boom in terms of economic and sociopolitical power. True to its history, it remains one of the world’s most important clusters of civilizations, and it will continue to play an integral role in humanity’s ongoing story. A History of India is a must-have course for understanding this powerful region and its profound influence on the rest of the globe.

A History of India [TTC Video]

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