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Marina De Franceschini

Marina De Franceschini studied and graduated at the University of Genoa (Italy) with prof. Gioia De Luca; the thesis studied architectural complex dedicated to the Roman Imperial Cult. She obtained a Master of Arts at Bryn Mawr College (Pennsylvania, USA) with professors Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway and Gloria Ferrari Pinney, with a thesis on the mosaics of Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli. She then attended the School of Specialization in Archaeology at Pisa with professor Andrea Carandini.
The thesis for the Master of Arts was the starting point of her research work on Roman villas. After a long study only on books, when she actually saw Hadrian’s Villa became aware of the fundamental importance of fieldwork and surveys on the spot. The thesis was originally focused only on mosaics, and was enlarged to include architecture of the buildings, applying for the first time in the imperial villa the principles of archaeometry: room by room catalogue entries. This extensive research and documentation work was awarded the Erma di Bretschneider Prize, with the publication of the book Villa Adriana, Mosaici, Pavimenti, edifici (1991) from which comes in part the information provided on her website. The book collects previous antiquarian information, publishing mosaics and opus sectile floors (previously unpublished). It gives a new interpretation of Hadrian’s Villa, and still is a basic text for the study of the complex.
She later studied other Roman villas in the italian regions of Veneto and Lazio, publishing two volumes:
Ville Romane della X Regio Venetia et Histria (1998), where the villas are set in their historical and geographical context made of cities, roads, ports, rivers, centuriation and agricultural production.
Ville dell’Agro Romano (2005), in cooperation with the Superintendency of the City of Rome and professor Eugenio La Rocca. A catalogue of one hundred villas in the Ager surrounding Rome, which reconstructs their typology and evolution over the centuries.
In 2002 she worked with the University of Trento and professor Mariette de Vos in a project for the survey and study of the Palestra at Villa Adriana.
Since 2005 Marina De Franceschini created and directed Progetto Accademia - Accademia Project, a pilot project to study and survey one of the lesser-known buildings of Villa Adriana: the Accademia. In 2006 was listed among the 100 Endangered Sites of the World Monuments Fund. The results of the Project have been published in a series of articles and in two volumes:
Villa Adriana. Architettura Celeste. I segreti dei Solstizi (2011), illustrating the discovery of the astronomical orientation of the Accademia and of Roccabruna at Villa Adriana, and the special light effects that were taking place there.
Villa Adriana. Accademia. Hadrian's Secret Garden (Pisa-Rome 2016), a comprehensive history of the excavations and studies from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries, focused on the Accademia and also on Villa Adriana; the first in English language, with new and unpublished photographs and plants. Forthcoming is a secondo volume on the history of studies and excavations from the eighteenth century onwards.
With Professor Jørgen Hansen she is now investigating the aqueducts and subterranean road network of Villa Adriana.
See her website:
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