Sofia is working on the European Research Council 'Impact of the Ancient City Project', led by Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill at the University of Cambridge. 

Phd thesis: Ideal cities: the ancient city and the modern city in Italian urban planning (1860-1914).

Very broadly I am interested in cities, Modernism, utopia and archaeology. I have researched the overlap between these subjects in multiple and interdisciplinary ways; past projects have investigated how Fascist language planning and urban planning worked together to produce a new reading of archaeological excavation sites in Mussolini’s Rome (1921-1945). This project sought to show how the way we speak about the past, see the past and walk within it produces understanding. I have also examined how British and Italian artists of the same period responded to modernisation through the representation of Greco-Roman architecture and mythology, which they reinterpreted through their readings of Nietzsche and Freud, particularly in paintings by Giorgio de Chirico, John Armstrong and Edward Wadsworth. These artists sought to express the feeling of modernity through classical subjects and visual vocabularies, focusing on its ‘uncanny’ elements.


My Phd thesis has looked at an earlier period, the years 1860 to 1914, to investigate the reception of the ancient Greco-Roman City, both as a concept which was imagined, and as a material being which was adapted and restored, amongst urban planners and archaeologists. It examines how this concept was central to Italian urban modernisation through the examples of Paris, Barcelona, Rome and Naples, by analysing engineering manuals, medical texts, urban plans and archaeological plans. I show that the mix of engineers, architects and medics responsible for planning in Italy brought about change by idealising the Roman city as a model. It was their belief that taking the Roman city as a model would promise Italy a future full of robust ‘Roman’ bodies. Equally, this conceptual model of the Roman city actually affected how archaeologists viewed and ‘restored’ its remains. I suggest that archaeologists saw the past in terms of public health discourses, and cleaned away what was ‘degenerate’, to reveal the healthy original structure they perceived to lie beneath.

Curriculum Vitae

Academic and Professional Qualifications


PhD, University of Cambridge, ‘Impact of the Ancient City Project’. European Research Council, 2017 – 2021

  • “Ideal cities: ‘the Ancient City’ and ‘the Modern City’, in Liberal Italy 1860-1914.” 

  • Extensive international archival research skills and quantitative analysis

  • Urban planning theory, policy and plan analysis in the context of cultural history

  • Case studies Naples, Rome, Barcelona, Paris, London

  • Fluent English and Italian, working Spanish and French

  • Reading French, Spanish, Catalan, Italian


Forthcoming publications

  • “Cholera and the Ancient City in Naples (1860-1914).” In Epidemic Urbanism. How Contagious Diseases have Shaped Global Cities. Columbia, 2021.

  • “Naples, Neapolis and Modernity.” In Remembering and Forgetting the Ancient City. Cambridge University Press, 2021.

  • “Ancient and Modern Grid Planning in the Nineteenth-century City.” In Rome and the Colonial City. Cambridge University Press, 2021.


  • “The Sanitation Campaign against Cholera in Naples (1860-1910).” Epidemic Urbanism: Reflections on History (What Insights…might Inform our Understanding of COVID-19?) Columbia University/Morgan State University, Online Symposium, May 2020. Available online:

  • "Re-imagining the Grid in the Nineteenth Century. To be, or not to be Rome.” Rome & the Colonial City, The British School at Rome, Rome, January 2020.

  • "Città Ideali: le Convergenze tra Obiettivi dell’Urbanistica e Motivazioni Archeologici a Roma, 1870-1914.” Reconstruire Rome, École Française, Rome, October 2019.

  • "Subversive Classicism. Giorgio de Chirico and the British Modernists.” Classical Reception Seminar Series, Cambridge University, March 2019.

  • "Ideals of the Ancient City. Urban planning in Paris, Barcelona, and Naples." Faculty of Classics, Cambridge University, March 2019.

  • "Futurism and the Ancient City." Graduate Interdisciplinary Seminar, Cambridge University, March 2019.

Academic Activities

  • “Illustrating Ancient History Exhibition.” Cambridge Archaeological Museum,

  • Conference Organisation. ‘Rome and the Colonial City’, British School at Rome, 2020

  • Copyediting and Book Design, Rome and the Colonial City volume

  • Co-Convenor and Chair, Cambridge Classical Reception Seminar Series

  • Chair, Cambridge Graduate Interdisciplinary Seminar Series

  • Undergraduate Lecturer, “Italian Fascism.” Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge

  • Undergraduate supervision (25 Students) “Rome, the Very Idea.” Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge

  • Undergraduate thesis supervision, “Mussolini and Fascist Mosaics in the Foro Italico”.

  • Website Design: ImpAncCit Project and Topica Cambridge Graduate Website (


Teaching Testimonials


“Thank you so much for supervising this term. I have spent the last two years of this degree not really feeling like I belonged in it, or really even believing in it as a worthwhile pursuit, but found your supervisions and lectures really really inspirational in terms of what 'classics' can actually look like and what material is 'worth studying'(and also very important in making me feel like I could write my dissertation the way that I have). THANK YOU!!!” (2020)


“I just wanted to say that it was the best lecture I've had all term (by far) and it made me for the first time consider pursuing an area of Classics beyond Undergrad level, so thank you so much for such a great introduction to the Fascist remaking of Rome.” (2020)

Other Academic Qualifications and Awards

Sotheby’s Institute        MA: Modern, Fine Art & Decorative Design. (Distinction)             2016-2017

  • Gordon Laing full Scholarship (£26,000).

  • Highest MA result in year

  • Dissertation: ‘Being Modern and Being British: Cities and Classicism in Giorgio de Chirico, Edward Wadsworth and John Armstrong’.

  • The commercial workings of an auction house: law, ethics, and business

  • Art history: Old Masters, Decorative Arts, Modern Art and Design

  • The market for antiquities: provenance, ethical issues, and restoration

  • Art and authenticity: Attributions, valuations, scientific methods

University of Durham     BA (Hons): Classics (First)                                                                 2012-2015

  • Maltby Exhibition Prize for Examination Results, Durham University, 2014

  • Maltby Exhibition Prize for Examination Results, Durham University, 2015

  • Maltby Exhibition Prize for Best Thesis in Year, Durham University, 2015

  • Dissertation: ‘The real Romanità: new identity in the aesthetics of urban space for Mussolini’s Roma resurgens’.

  • Roman art and buildings, maps and the urban development of Rome, Census of Antique Works of Art and Architecture, and Stanford Forma Urbis Romae

  • Latin language and literature


Alleyn’s School, London                                                                                                   2005-2012
2012: A2 Level: A*A*A* (Fine Art, Latin, History); 2011: AS Level: AAAA (Maths); 2010: GCSE: 10 A*


Professional Experience

Freelance Artist                                                                                                             2012-Present

  • Franco Manca Restaurant designs across UK, Cambridge branch artwork and hoarding

  • International Women’s Day Group Exhibition, ‘Be Bold for Change,’ Adam & Eve DDB, 2016

  • Resident artist: London Mozart Players, Covent Garden Chamber Orchestra, University of London Symphony Orchestra

  • Glyndebourne Tour Art Award 2015                  

White Cube Gallery, London                   Digital Archive Intern                                 March-June 2016

  • Communicated with alpha galleries, sourcing and preparing material for publication

  • Researched artist information packs for Tracey Emin, Georg Baselitz, Damien Hirst and Dora Maurer for internal distribution

  • Record management for White Cube artists, using in house archiving system and Inventory database

  • Photoshop image editing for publications

  • Produced Trafalgar Square Fourth Plinth and ‘Sculpture in the City’ display with archival material

  • Editions department: condition checks, purchase and packaging of editions for Georg Baselitz

Cooper Studios                          Co-founder and Assistant Manager                             2013 – Present

  • Set up the first art studio and gallery for students in Durham City (NGO)

  • Found, gutted and rebuilt studio space within existing building

  • Fundraised £4000 to meet setup costs and held collaborative exhibition of members’ work

  • Art installations at Shambala Festival (2015, 2016) involving viewing platforms, art sessions, and an obelisk with interactive light and sound sensors (


Apolline Project                             Restoration Team                                                           2014

  • In an international team of French, Spanish, Italian and American students recuperating and restoring three fallen frescoes in 5th Century baths

  • Identified, classified, and catalogued excavated ancient pottery

  • Drawing pottery, and trench layout


  • Violin Grade 8 ABRSM Dist., Viola, Piano. Ensembles including Covent Garden Chamber Orchestra and Cambridge University Orchestra


  • Half marathons, 2016 (St. Christopher’s Hospice), 2017, 2018 (Red Cross), 2019 (St. Christopher’s Hospice), 2020 (Centre 33, Mental Health).