“Work stops at sunset. Darkness falls over the building site. The sky is filled with stars.

‘There is the blueprint,’ they say.”

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Forma Sideris—a Latin phrase that refers to the many-pointed shape of a star—is a space to have guided conversations about things that so delight and inspire me that I want to share them with you. It is a space to discuss books and exhibitions that have left an impression, beautiful images, meaningful encounters with historical figures, places that have left an indelible mark, and magical realizations borne out of collaborations with other creative souls. Each conversation will be approached as an amateur—someone motivated by love (amatore)—as I want to share my multi-rayed love of the world with you.

Most of the topics will center around Italy and its art, literature, culture and history. No prerequisites, except curiosity and an open mind.


Watch some previous Forma Sideris ‘Conversations Around Art’ here and learn more about me here.

We are currently offering two mini-courses, both starting in January 2021. Expand your mind, get your creativity flowing and travel virtually to Italy through its art and literature! Please contact us to register or to get on our newsletter mailing list.


The year 2021 marks the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death, and his epic poem, The Divine Comedy, is more relevant than ever. A story of hitting rock bottom and making the arduous but joyful climb up to the stars, Dante’s tale is proof that the only way out is through. Start the New Year off right by immersing yourself in poetry, beauty, and a deeper understanding of the universal human experience with a six-week guided reading of the Comedy with Alexandra Lawrence.

WEEK 1: 7 January 2021 at 7pm CET*

Inferno I-XX: A dark wood, three ferocious beasts, and the ever-patient Virgil start us off on our journey where we will encounter the infamously lustful Francesca and many more flaming, writhing (but also extremely talkative) souls as we make our way through the over-crowded, cacophonous and imaginative circles of Dante’s hell.

WEEK 2: 14 January 2021 at 7pm CET

Inferno XXI-XXXIV: Thieves, deceiving demons, fiery serpents, and towering giants greet us on our decent to the deepest part of the Christian underworld, where we will ultimately meet its ruler—Lucifer—face-to-face.

WEEK 3: 21 January 2021 at 7pm CET

Purgatory I-XVI: Though the ultimate goal is heaven, most must first cleanse their souls through the difficult process of purgation brilliantly outlined by Dante. We will begin to climb the mountain of Purgatory in the company of officious angels who instruct on making the most of one’s time in this temporary space.

WEEK 4: 28 January 2021 at 7pm CET

Purgatory XVII-XXXIII: Here we enter the Garden of Eden where Dante reunites with the one and only Beatrice, his beloved angel-woman who will take over as his guide through the realms of heaven.

WEEK 5: 4 February 2021 at 7pm CET

Paradiso I-XX: We join Dante and Beatrice on their rise through the spheres of air, fire, the moon, and all of the planets encountering the souls of the blessed along the way.

WEEK 6: 11 February 2021 at 7pm CET

Paradiso XXI-XXXIII: The final part of our journey takes us through the Fixed Stars, the Primum Mobile and the hierarchy of angels, the Empyrean and the mystical rose, to the ultimate destination—standing in the middle of the all-encompassing, pure, and blinding light of Love.

*The sessions will take place live on Zoom—a recording will also be sent to all participants the following day that they may access for the duration of the course. The cost for the entire course is 100 euros. To sign up or to receive more information, please email us.


From the greatest works of antiquity in Southern Italy, to the Florentine and Venetian Renaissance, and the Roman Baroque to the Neapolitan Rococo, this course will transport you to Italy through its magnificent art. We will traverse the peninsula and the islands in the company of the Ancient Greek and Roman masters, of Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Bernini, Caravaggio, and more. Let’s fill the dark winter days with the light of creativity and wonder!

ANTIQUITY: 19 January at 6pm

We begin with the art of the enigmatic Etruscans before exploring the temples and art of Magna Grecia—‘greater Greece’—throughout Southern Italy and Sicily.

ANCIENT ROME: 26 January at 6pm

Get to know the faces of Republican Rome through celebratory portrait busts; witness the shift in art and architecture during the 500-year Imperial period—from the Colosseum, to domestic art in Pompeii, to the Pantheon, and the splendid mosaics in Ravenna—done during the very period of decline and fall of the Western Roman Empire.

ROMANESQUE & GOTHIC: 2 February at 6pm

AD 1000—the world hasn’t ended and Italy wants to celebrate! We will whisk from Tuscany to Modena, Parma, Ferrara, Venice, Padova and Bologna for the best in Romanesque and Gothic art and architecture. 


Rebirth. We will draw on what we have learned about ancient art to lead us through the golden years of the Florentine Renaissance with the art of Ghiberti, Brunelleschi, Donatello, Masaccio, Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo. 


Not to be outdone by their counterparts to the south, Venetian artists like Giorgione, Bellini, Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese bring their own luminous and often sensual style to Renaissance painting. We will also look at the results of the greatest art competition in history—the face-off between Michelangelo and Raphael in the Vatican frescos.

THE BAROQUE: 23 February at 6pm

Find out what “chiaroscuro” really means with a look at Counter-Reformation Rome and the art of Caravaggio and Bernini. We wrap up with a look at the swirling, whirling Baroque paintings in Naples and the absolute awe-inspiring mastery of Sammartino’s Cristo Velato.

*The sessions will take place live on Zoom—a recording will also be sent to all participants the following day that they may access for the duration of the course. The cost for the entire course is 100 euros. To sign up or to receive more information, please email us.


In the 17th century, Pope Sixtus V wanted to welcome pilgrims to Rome in a systematic but beautiful way. He undertook a redesign of the city’s urban spaces by creating a route in the shape of a many-pointed star whose emanating rays would guide visitors to the most important sites in Rome. In Latin, the concept was referred to as Roma in forma sideris (Rome in the shape of a star) and can still be understood today by noticing the placement of obelisks in the city’s most important piazzas. 

For me, the idea of forma sideris and the shape of the star illustrate my multi-faceted interests and my approach to illuminating the history, art and culture of this wondrous country.