About us

Located in a 15th century castle in the Umbrian region of Italy, Civitella is a residency program for international writers, composers, and visual artists. Since 1995, Civitella has hosted more than 900 Fellows and Director’s Guests. The Center enables its Fellows to pursue their work and to exchange ideas in a unique and inspiring setting. 

Civitella Ranieri Fellowships are awarded through a careful nomination and jury process by a rotating group of distinguished artists, academics, and critics that ensures access to a highly diverse group of emerging and accomplished candidates from around the world. Only nominated candidates may apply and a review jury makes selections.

Emerging talent, mid-career Fellows, and senior, established professionals are all sought to round out the community of any given group. English is the common language. Fellowships include round-trip travel, room, board, and studio or work space.

Learn more from our downloadable Civitella Brochure.

our Mission

Artists require unfettered time and space to engage in their work and the world. Building on the legacy of our founder, Ursula Corning, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation opens the doors of its 15th century castle in rural Umbria annually for four six-week residency sessions of self-directed studio and work time.

Each residency community of 12-14 brings together accomplished international artists, writers, and composers at emerging and established moments in their careers. They are joined by a limited number of invited Director’s Guests to foster a robust contemporary dialogue that transcends disciplines and geography. A Civitella Ranieri Fellowship changes lives, develops permanent connections, and refreshes one’s work.


Ursula Corning, founder of the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, was born in Switzerland in 1903, studied in England, and spent most of her life in New York City. A gifted linguist whose extended family lived in four countries, she crossed borders with ease. Yet, if there is such a place as one’s true home, for Ursula, it surely was her beloved Civitella.

Ursula began visiting Civitella castle as a young girl but it wasn’t until 1968 that she made the momentous decision to rent the castle indefinitely. Thus began the fabled Civitellian summers enjoyed for the next 35 years by Ursula’s wide and varied, always stimulating, always provocative circle of international friends. The atmosphere of the ancient castle and the quiet beauty of the countryside inspired her artistic guests to express themselves through poetry, music, and the visual arts. 

Page from a Civitella guestbook, 1968

 Generations of regular guests, whom Ursula called “the Civitellians,” their friends, and the occasional strangers Ursula spontaneously invited, had the good fortune to enjoy her unparalleled hospitality. Ursula took great pleasure in breaking down social barriers at the dinner table, seating backpackers next to bankers, the old next to the young, and always separating couples. Ursula, who preferred others take center stage, would sit back and listen to the conversations, carried on in as many as five different languages, and watch friendships blossom between people whose paths were unlikely to otherwise have crossed.

In the last decade of her life, Ursula often wondered, “What will become of my dear Civitella after I die? Will it be turned into a dusty museum?” Those who knew her well say that, were she to return today, she would be thrilled to see the castle abuzz with activity generated by the new Civitellians, the international Fellows now in residence.