Ciao Tutti Voi!
We have been diligently working through a time line in Venice regarding her famous Art and Architecture. Andrea Palladio was the focus of an entire afternoon out in the streets of Venice. While on the Isola Giudecca and then Isola San Giorgio we could look at the Renaissance style of Palladio and turn ourselves around looking back at the Doge’s Palace (Venetian Gothic Style), San Marco Basilica (Byzantine Style), Sansovini’s Marchiana Library (Renaissance Style). We very easily discussed, compared and contrasted, our knowledge of the development of each.
I really enjoy taking the group to the museum which houses the only complete painting collection of the Venetian Republic. We were able walk through a “timeline” progressing from the Byzantine through to the Rococo Style.
Napoleon Boneparte, 1797, seized Venice and took as booty what he wanted of the Venetian art. He tore down churches filled in canals, destroyed lion images…His goal was to make the city of Venice another “Paris”. Other works of art from churches, palaces, and museums he crammed into the existing gallery Veneta Academia di Pittura, Scultura e Architettura. In 1807 by a Napoleonic decree the gallery was renamed Accademia di Bella Arte di Venezia and was opened to the public for the first time.
The Venetian Republic ended after over a thousand-year rule…the collection in the Accademia stops here also making it an archive if pictorial history of huge canvases, rich color, Renaissance architecture, 3-D realism, and a slice of Venetian life that reflects the mindset, philosophy, social mores, religious beliefs, and political progressions. It is a true gem of the city!
I am very proud of the students completing their courses in the Italian language. They were incredibly diligent hard-working. This is a very difficult and intense part of our Semester Program. The pay back of these nine weeks of hard core immersion is that these young people are moving in this culture in ways they never dreamed-they can communicate in a country that only ten weeks ago they were timid and foreign to. What a deep joy for me to these students develop all of these weeks! My heart is so large for each of them. We celebrated with a beautiful and lively lunch in a garden restaurant with Matteo, our Director of the Istituto, his wife Anna History of Theater Instructor, Deborah, Language Instructor, Francesca student teacher and friend, and Stephania, History of Music Instrutor.
We are off to our Educational Spring Tour!!
Ciao Ciao from the Lagoon!
FVCC Venice Semester Abroad Program, Director
Ciao welcome back,
It was a crazy busy week in Venice as well as beginning our tour of Tuscany. I can safely say that I can now carry a conversation in Italian (if you talk really slow), and I understand a lot of the language around me. It is almost a sigh of relief as I feel more comfortable in social situations here. It was super beneficial to actually live in the culture of the language that I’m learning. We had the two best teachers and I’m so thankful for their time and energy they put into our class. Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy and I’m sure they were just as ready as us for it to be ending. We asked endless questions and looked cluelessly at them about 75% of the time, but I really think we learned a lot. Italian is so beautiful and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in foreign languages. So anyway, after our final on Friday we had an amazing party in the cutest restaurant. It was sunny and full of flowers and we ate more food than you can probably imagine. Think endless pizza, meats, vegetables, fish, bread, cakes, fried olives, and cheeses. The meal was perfect to get us excited for our tour around Italy, which might I add has been a fairytale so far. We began with an easy day on Saturday, making many stops to stretch our legs from sitting on the bus. The city we arrived in is literally a giant castle that you have to take an elevator to even get into. It was definitely a change from Venice, and I loved it. Back on the road today, Sunday, and we just made a stop through a canyon with the most bright blue water. It reminded me so much of Montana, and instead of being homesick, I felt even more grateful. We enjoyed a late lunch in the sun and boarded the bus to continue our travels. I am blessed to be sitting here and looking out the window to the orange sun setting over the green rolling hills of Italy. The spring flowers blooming all around, and the cutest ancient cities. I can’t wait for the rest of this tour. Stay tuned!
Another week has flown by and the weather is warming up. It was a really busy week, we had a paper due Tuesday and our language final Friday. Aka lots of time on the computer, which really sucks when the weather is sooo beautiful out! Friday, we graduated from our Italian language class! To celebrate the ending of our language course we had a wonderful and tasty lunch that last about two hours. We invited our teachers; Debora, Anna, Stephania, and our friend Francesca. There was soooo much food and it was soooooo tasty. I think I made our waiters day when, after the massive meal, he asked if anyone was still hungry, everyone else said they were delightfully full, but I said yes. I ordered stuffed clams and he brought out 9 more free of charge! (LeRoy and I ate the majority of the second helping of clams) Then it was on to desert.
Saturday we started our tour and meet our bus driver around 9:00 then we hit the road. We stopped once for a snack and walk around which lead to Adara, Sarah, Susan, and I doing cartwheels and round offs in the fresh green grass and lots of laughs. We stopped in Pomposa to see an ancient Gothic structure and run around in the grass, again. Then we stopped in Ravenna at the Mausoleum and San Vitale. After that it was a short drive to Classe to see S’Appolonare. Finally, we ended the night in Urbnino at our hotel. Sunday morning we ate breakfast and went to see the Duke’s Palace. After that we decided to take a short break and climb to the top of a long and tall hill to see the beautiful panorama of the city. Amazing! We lounged around in the sun for a little while taking pictures before heading back down. It was time to start the second leg of our trip. We drove through Furlo Canyon and stopped to “monkey around” and take more cool pictures; back on the bus. We ended our night in Assisi, the hotel is adorable and there is a restaurant nearby. I can’t wait to explore the rest of Assisi over the next two days!
Every single week seems to go by quicker and quicker! We actually made it to the end of our language program… it’s crazy to think over 150 hours have been spent sitting in Italian class! It was more bittersweet than I pictured it.
This week was a a new start and an ending. We finished our Italian classes and have officially graduated from the program. It’s pretty fantastic and nostalgic, as we have just set out on our 10 day tour. Now we have new friends in our teachers and new friends from the road. As the program is coming to a close, all I can think is: “Where did the time go? I wanted to do so much more!” even though we have done and seen so much. I know that there is still more time, but since I knew the tour was at the end, it kind of hits home that soon we are all going to part ways and find new adventures in life, that aren’t necessarily reached or seen together. In a sense we became a kind of weird family for this trip and it might feel kind of like a phantom limb, when we return to our friends and families.
As we are visiting all theses museums, churches, basilicas and historical places and going in the souvenir shops I find myself recognizing the fact that people have walked in the same places, touched the same things, and will continue to travel on some of the paths that I am currently on. Whether it be ten, a thousand, a million or tens of millions of people, its possible that the same beaded bracelet that I am holding in my hands, measuring the weight, and feeling the rough or smooth texture of the beads, could have been touched by those people. It is possible that they where thinking the same thoughts or feeling how the churches give out security and peace or even just stopping and feeling the ache in their feet from the hike to see these beautiful sights. It is a wonderful experiences and sometimes it is okay to stop on a journey, just to take in the sight, sound, and texture of where I am actually standing, and realize I am actually here, in this very moment, and I am actually experiencing these amazing things.
The knowledge that the whole group is accumulating is astounding. I mean, if we were to look back at where we started from, knowing close to no Italian, and close to nothing about architecture and paintings, and looking at what we can say off the top of our heads with certainty like: “That’s a Rococo because there is so much going on and it has pastel colors.” or, “That is a Bellini, a Giovanni Bellini painting.” or even, “Gelato is THE BEST!”. There is a marked and noticeable improvement in what we have stored in our brains. So Bravo! to all our amazing teachers, event organizers, and student teachers for putting so much into our heads and working so hard on this program together with us. All the difficult studying was worth it.
Grazie per aver letto!
Life is about accomplishments. We often think that the big accomplishments are the only ones that matter, but it is more than that. Of course, the big ones are usually the ones that change our lives and they are important, but the small ones help us to grow. If you are shy, starting a conversation is a victory. If you are talkative, knowing when to just listen is a victory. We face these kinds of challenges every day, but we don’t see them as such. This week, I got an email from Alitalia letting me know my flight got canceled and I had to rebook it. I was worried they wouldn’t understand me, as this is an Italian airline, but I called in to the customer service anyways, I talked to an assistant, rebooked my flight and got things figure out… all in Italian! I felt pretty good afterwards. That was remarkable for me; it made me feel more confident. That being said, we can’t let the fear of failing stop us from trying. There are so many people or things that discourage us all, so you have to believe in yourself with all your power. Failings happen, but coming back to fight… that is what makes us stronger.
And we finished another chapter this week in our Venice program abroad: we completed our Italian class. What an adventure that was! Learning Italian for 20 hours/week felt overwhelming at some moments, but in other moments felt like I needed more. Undoubtedly, from now on a piece of my heart will forever speak Italian.
The last stretch of classroom lessons ended this week on Friday with an Italian exam at 11 and a blowout festa at 1 with the whole class, one of our Italian teachers Deborah, our Italian friend Francesca, Stefania our music teacher, Anna and her husband who is director of the Instituto, and Susan who put the whole thing together for us. As much as I enjoyed our teachers and the classroom experience, I am glad our Italian final is over and am more than ready for the tour to begin and put what I’ve learned into practice. I have this inner need to move around and to go places I haven’t been. I love waking up in cities that I don’t yet know my way around in and conversing in languages not completely understood. The excitement of the unknown is thrilling and to embark on this roadtrip across Italy with all these lovely people I’ve come to know is wonderful in so many ways. To see art and architecture I’ve studied for so long and seen pictures of to finally come to life in front of me in a form I can see and feel, it’s breathtaking to even think of it.
We are approaching the end of our journey here in Italia. We are currently on our tour around the country. We stopped in Urbino for a day and a night. Sunday, we arrived in Assisi and we head out Tuesday morning for our next destination.
Last week we visited the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, and I have to say, it is an interesting change of pace from the Classical Fine Art, like the Renaissance style, for example, that we have become so familiar with to the contemporary and abstract art of the Guggenheim Collection. I can’t say I am a huge fan of it, however, I think it is one of those things that grows on you after you’ve had some exposure to it. Not to mention the fact that I have only just developed an appreciation and interest in Classical Fine Art within the last couple months. I still need time to process and explore that before I can move on to anything too abstract.
It is amazing, at least to me, how much more appreciation I have for art because of this trip. I’m starting to see little things and details all over the place now it’s really cool.