Our History

The Civita Institute is the dba of our founding name 'The Northwest Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in Italy' (NIAUSI). We are a member-supported nonprofit corporation established in 1981 by the late Professor Emerita Astra Zarina who led a community of academics from the University of Washington (UW), plus architects from leading firms in the Pacific Northwest, UW students, and other creative supporters to define its mission and formation as a 501(c)(3) organization.

The mission of the Civita Institute is "to inspire and foster an interdiciplinary understanding of the unique qualities of Italian hill towns that remain pertinent to our contemporary experience, through the propmotion of historic preservation, education and scholalry research, artistic creation, cultural exchange, and professional explorations."

Originally, the Civita Institute was formed to offer Fellowships as learning experiences for the professional design community, outside of academia, as a corollary to the Italian Studies Programs begun in 1971 by Professor Zarina for the University of Washington's College of Architecture and Urban Planning. The Civita Institute has since evolved to include professional development through participation in our Educational Programs, Membership programs, and Fellowships that use our historic facilities in Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy as a base for exploration of the central Italian hill towns. 

Key foundational documents for the Civita Institute's formation as a nonprofit organization in 1981 and the Civita Institute's Italian properties ownership and development agreements begun in 2007 and completed in 2013 can be seen here.

We would be honored to have you join as a Member, participate in our Educational Programs, apply for a Fellowship, or enjoy a unique, member-stay experience within our historic buildings in Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy.  

The Civita Institute facilities, located in Alto Lazio, in the ancient hill town of Civita di Bagnoregio, were donated to The Civita Institute by the late Professor Emerita Astra Zarina and her husband Anthony Costa Heywood, architect. The Civita Institute and its participants continue to be enriched by their extraordinary generosity and vision. More about the life and work of Astra Zarina can be found at the following links: 

English Obituary

Necrologio Italiano