How to Make Learning Unforgettable: The Lost Art of the Convivium

If you’ve endured too many sterile Zoom meetings, why not create a convivium instead?

In this note, David Fideler explores how learning could be made unforgettable.

Dear Reader,

What is a convivium?

A convivium is a banquet or a symposium, but it literally means a short period “lived together” with others.

It can also describe a time spent together where you share ideas, experiences, and meaningful conversations with others.

The Problem with Online Events

During the Covid-era, it became very popular to offer online conferences and presentations using Zoom.

Fortunately, those days are over, but the online events continue, with disembodied heads floating in Zoom windows.

Zoom events are easily produced, easy to tune into, and convenient, since you never need to leave your home. But sadly, they have little lasting impact. Moreover, they often lack real human interaction.

Perhaps more critically, these events often feature limited opportunities for meaningful conversations.

Many online events are just short presentations, and they don’t even offer a chance to discuss the ideas.

Then, if you attend an online event, you might remember it for a few moments, after which it quickly fades away.

While online events can serve a worthy purpose, their impact is often fleeting. By contrast, a real convivium, held in person, can be life-changing.

Creating a Real Convivium in 2023

In my experience, if you really want to explore something deeply, there’s nothing better than gathering with a small group of people and friends, with whom you can exchange real ideas.

Gathering in a location steeped in historical relevance to the ideas being discussed can further enhance this experience.

In a case like that, you can return home with an enduring experience, something you will remember for the rest of your life.

Having taken part in gatherings like this, I understand the lasting impact they can have. Because of these experiences, I’ve become passionate about creating educational events like this, which can make a real difference. In other words, not floating heads on a Zoom call, but real-life events in meaningful places, which incorporate discussions, friendship, pleasant meals, and a convivial atmosphere.

After all, such experiences encapsulate what a satisfying life should include.

Over the last year and a half, I’ve been working with a small group of friends to create and host a memorable learning experience, just like this, which will convene in Florence, Italy, this November.

The topic of this convivium, which you can read about here, is significant:

The gathering is unique, and here is why:

Each morning we will have some illustrated slide presentations about the ideas that helped give birth to the Renaissance. We’ll have casual, lunchtime discussions. And in the afternoon, we’ll take a look at how those profound Renaissance ideas were embodied in the civic life, architecture, and art of Renaissance Florence.

The convivium will include visits to the most important sites in Florence, easily reachable on foot, so we can see how profound ideas were embodied in the civic life, architecture, and art of Renaissance Florence. Shown above: The Uffizi Gallery.

This will include small group visits to the most important sites in Florence, led by Chandi Wyant, a friendly, licensed guide, and a knowledgeable scholar of Renaissance thought. Because of these visits, the gathering is limited to 20 people.

In summary, we’ve tried to create a lovely, real-life, unforgettable convivium—and we’ll also explore how ideas from the Renaissance could contribute to our world today.

You’ll find the full details here.

In addition to the five-day event, we’ve added a sixth day at no extra cost, for those who are interested in philosophy. It’s being held at Palazzo Rucellai, an important historical site in Florence, and will contain fascinating presentations with a chance to discuss the ideas.

Our gathering will include a symposium at Palazzo Rucellai, a site of historic importance in central Florence.

Chandi and I warmly invite you to join our convivium in Florence, for what promises to be an unforgettable event.

You’ll find complete information on the website about the event, and if you scroll to the bottom of that page, you’ll find information on where the course is located, nearby places to stay, and all those kinds of practical details. Just click on the buttons at the bottom of the page.

With best wishes from


David Fideler

Editor, Living Ideas Journal


About the Author

David Fideler is a philosopher who writes about how classical and Renaissance ideas can contribute to the world. Editor of the Living Ideas Journal, his book on  the Roman philosopher Seneca has been published in sixteen languages. Founder of the Renaissance Program, David is writing a book on how Renaissance ideas can enhance today’s world.

Further Reading on Living Ideas Journal


  • Renaissance Optimism. The early Italian Renaissance was perhaps the most optimistic period in Western civilization: the people of Florence believed they could accomplish anything, and so they did. What can we learn from Renaissance thinkers in our often pessimistic era, characterized by a diminished sense of human potential? 

The Renaissance Program in Florence. Experience five incredible days in Florence, Italy. Learn in person about “The Energizing Ideas Behind the Italian Renaissance.” Read more >>

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