Palazzetto Cenci

Since 1963, the Palazzetto Cenci has been home to RISD's European Honors Program (EHP) and the focal point of every RISD student’s experience in Rome. A historic site in its own right, the Palazzetto dates back to the 16th century and was once inhabited by the notorious Cenci family.

Today, the Palazzetto is a home, a workplace, and an event space: replete with private studios, a dormitory, and 3 renovated kitchens, as well as a darkroom and print shop, a library with computer lab, and a gallery space. The space is centered around the Beatrice room, a stunning gallery and lecture hall with original frescos and a rare copy of Guido Reni's portrait of Beatrice Cenci.

Located in the heart of Rome’s Centro Storico, the Cenci is within walking distance of the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Vatican, as well as countless museums, galleries, and contemporary art spaces. From its doors, you can easily access everything from ancient Roman columns to Renaissance canvasses to contemporary exhibitions and installations.

Palazzetto Cenci: RISD in Rome
Rome, Italy 2012
Palazzetto Cenci: RISD in Rome

History + Location


Designed between 1579 and 1585 by architect Martino Longhi il Vecchio, and erected by the Cenci Family to celebrate their wealth and social status, the palazzetto was originally connected via internal passageways to older, medieval buildings also owned by the Cenci family. This ensemble of properties occupied an entire urban insula delimited by the Tiber River and the Jewish Ghetto. RISD students who live there are inspired by views of the Tiber and surviving frescos painted by Giovanni Guerra da Modena in 1583 and dedicated to Pope Gregorio XIII. The surrounding neighborhood serves students' daily needs, with a vast array of shops, restaurants, and fresh markets.


RISD’s site in Rome is also in close proximity to the prestigious American Academy in Rome, as well as other American university campuses such as Cornell University, Temple University, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Washington, American University of Rome, John Cabot University, and Iowa State University College of Design. This gives RISD students in Rome the opportunity to attend final reviews and interesting public lectures in English at these peer institutions, as well as a chance to interact with other students who are having a similar off-campus experience.

Academic Facilities

Beatrice Room: A monumental frescoed staircase leads visitors to the interior landing closest to the Beatrice Room on the piano nobile (first floor). This wing of the building, once used for ceremonies and social gatherings is now used for lectures, as gallery space, and for public events. It features ornate ceilings with original beams and frescoe scenes, as well as a portrait of the room’s namesafe, Beatrice Cenci, attributed to the Italian Baroque painter Guido Reni. The original portrait can be viewed in the National Gallery of Ancient Art in Barberini Palace.

An open-air semi-public courtyard is often used by the EHP community for exhibitions and events.

They feature tall ceilings and natural lighting and are furnished with work desks, chairs, and supplementary lighting, which for personalized use of space.

The Cenci library is monitored by a work study student who assists participants and reshelves texts.

The darkroom is monitored by a work study student trained in proper safety practices and chemical waste management.

The darkroom is monitored by a work study student trained in proper safety practices and chemical waste management.

Residential Facilities

Dorms are double-occupancy and are furnished with beds, armoires, desks and chairs, natural and supplemental lighting. Bedding and towels are provided and laundered by a linen service.

Pots, pans, dishes, glasses, and other kitchen equipment is included and available for use by participants.

RISD in Rome Staff

On-site program staff with decades of experience ensure personal care and attention to students’ needs and coordinate on-site events. See RISD in Rome.