Tommaso Zerbi, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Main Focus

  • History, theory, and historiography of neo-medievalism
  • Post-medieval reworkings of the Middle Ages
  • Modern Italian architecture
  • Architecture, power (relations), and politics
  • Ephemeral architecture and lost architecture

Research Project

The Bourbon Middle Ages: Neo-Medieval Architecture and the Politics of the Risorgimento

Publication (Selection)

  • “A Home in Rome: Villa Mills and the Palatine Hill”, Papers of the British School at Rome, First View (2023), pp. 1–55.
  • “The Making of Italy (through the Ephemeral): The First Italian Parliament between State-Building, ‘Risorgimental Neo-Medievalism’, and Glorification of the House of Savoy”, in A Companion to Italian Constitutional History (1804–1938): The House of Savoy and the Making of the Nation-State, edited by Carolina Armenteros and Andrea Ungari, Leiden et al. 2023, pp. 120–152.
  • "'Neo-Medievalism Studies', Italy, and the Four Ghosts: Architectural History and the Study of Medievalism", Journal of Art Historiography, 26 (2022), pp. 1–25.
  • "'Immensa, misteriosa, leggera, fantastica, degna del Dio vivente': Luigi Cibrario e la rinascita risorgimentale dell’architettura medievale", Studi Piemontesi, 50, 2 (2021), pp. 523–528.
  • "Pelagio Palagi’s Floating Castles: 'Risorgimental Neo-Medievalism', Architectural Ephemera, and Politics at the Court of Savoy", Architectural Histories, 9, 1 (2021), pp. 1–17.

Curriculum Vitae

Tommaso Zerbi is an architectural historian who specialises in the history, theory, and historiography of neo-medieval architecture and medievalism, with an emphasis on modern Italy and the exchanges between the medieval and Renaissance revival and political culture. Between completing a doctorate in Architectural History at the University of Edinburgh (2021) and joining the Bibliotheca Hertziana (2022), he held the 2021/2022 Paul Mellon Centre Rome Fellowship at the British School at Rome. An Early Career Member of the Royal Historical Society, Tommaso was a 2022/2023 Wallace Fellow at I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. Prior to these, he graduated (MArch, BArch) summa cum laude from the Politecnico di Milano. His doctorate, which received the Barrie Wilson Award from the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, offered the first major history of the roles of medievalism and architecture in the “making” of Italy. A central aspect of Tommaso’s work revolves around examining the contributions of architecture and art (“neo-medievalism”) to the diachronic returns of the Middle Ages. This includes organising a session at the annual conference of the Society of Architectural Historians and research seminars at the Bibliotheca Hertziana. Among his extensive research on the neo-medieval architecture and medievalism of northern, central, and southern Italy, he reframed the Gothic Revival edifice that once incorporated Rome’s first imperial palace, commonly known as “Villa Mills”, as “Villa Smith”, highlighting its connections to the shadows of the British Empire.

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