Viva Italia!

Before we get into anything serious here I would just like to state for the record that ROME IS AMAZING! Everyone should come here and experience the art and history of Italy.  But before I get too carried away here I should tell you a little bit about me.  My name is AJ and I am an art student at the University of Washington.  I’m currently studying abroad in Rome, Italy, in the studio art program led by Lauren Grossman.  (Side note: If you are an art student and haven’t yet taken an art class with Lauren Grossman then make sure you do before you graduate. She is incredibly insightful and a wonderful teacher.  She’s not full-time faculty though so make the effort to seek her out when signing up for classes.)

I arrived in Rome on September 26th, five days before my program began.  I was not originally planning to be on my own in a foreign country for so long but it turned out to be one of the best experiences I have ever had.  I met lots of interesting people from all over the world and so much fun exploring the city by myself.  There’s a certain kind of freedom that I think can only be experienced when traveling by yourself in a different country from your own. Also, by the time our program began I was over the worst of my jet lag and able to fully appreciate the experience.  This was particularly fortunate since the first two weeks of our program were especially intense.

On the morning of October 1st we all met at the University of Washington Rome Center for a brief tour of our studios and then piled into a 24-person van and were on our way to explore the countryside of Italy.

Rooftop view from the art studios in the University of Washington Rome Center.
Rooftop view from the art studios in the University of Washington Rome Center.

Our first destination was Tarquinia where we explored a museum about the ancient Etruscan civilization…

Ex-votos at the Etruscan Museum in Tarquinia, Italy.

Ex-votos at the Etruscan Museum in Tarquinia, Italy.

…and visited their ancient tombs.

View from the site of the ancient Etruscan tombs in Tarquinia, Italy.
View from the site of the ancient Etruscan tombs in Tarquinia, Italy.

Our next stop was a sculpture garden in the picturesque countryside of Tuscany.  This phenomenal place was created by the artist Niki de Saint Phalle.  Pictures truly cannot do this place justice, it really has to be experienced in person to be appreciated.

Niki de Saint Phalle's "Il Giardino dei Tarocchi" (Tarot Garden)
Niki de Saint Phalle’s “Il Giardino dei Tarocchi” (Tarot Garden)

We also visited some medieval hill towns like Orvieto.  To get there we had to park at the bottom of the hill and then take a funicolare (a tram that runs up and down the hillside) up to the top since vans and buses are not allowed due to the narrow, twisting streets.

The breathtaking Cathedral of Orvieto: a large 14th century Roman Catholic cathedral, built in the gothic style, situated in the town of Orvieto in Umbria, central Italy.
The breathtaking Cathedral of Orvieto: a large 14th century Roman Catholic cathedral, built
in the gothic style, situated in the town of Orvieto in Umbria, central Italy.
We also stopped in the town of Fabriano which is famous for making paper and has a wonderful museum all about it.

A beautiful working model of an antique hydraulic machine used for making paper pulp at the Fabriano Paper Museum.

A beautiful working model of an antique hydraulic
machine used for making paper pulp at the
Fabriano Paper Museum.

Our final destination was Venice where we spent four days.

The canals of Venice.
The canals of Venice.
The flooded square in front of St. Mark's Cathedral during high tide on a rainy day in Venice. Yes, Venice is sinking.
The flooded square in front of St. Mark’s Cathedral during high tide on a rainy day in Venice.
Yes, Venice is sinking.
A moody evening in Venice.
A moody evening in Venice.

The main attraction was the Venice Biennale.

Works by Ron Nagle ca. 1939 at the Venice Biennale (ceramic).
Works by Ron Nagle ca. 1939 at the Venice Biennale (ceramic).
A giant sculpture at one of the many venues for art around Venice during the Biennale.
A giant sculpture at one of the many venues for art around Venice during the Biennale.

I also toured the Peggy Guggenheim museum that has an amazing collection of modern art…

A sculpture by Henry Moore at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice.
A sculpture by Henry Moore at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice.

And the island of Murano which is famous for its beautiful glass.

Mosaic floors in the Church of Santa Maria e San Donato in Murano, Italy.
Mosaic floors in the Church of Santa Maria e
San Donato in Murano, Italy.
Glass chandeliers at the Church of Santa Maria e San Donato in Murano, Italy.
Glass chandeliers at the Church of Santa
Maria e San Donato in Murano, Italy.
Baptismal font made from glass at the Church of Santa Maria e San Donato in Murano, Italy.
Baptismal font made from glass at the
Church of Santa Maria e San Donato in
Murano, Italy.

After so many days on the road we were all very ready to head to back to Rome and move into our homes for the next two months. But it was truly an unforgettable experience.

One last trip down the Grand Canale with a great view of the Rialto Bridge.
One last trip down the Grand Canale with a great view of the Rialto Bridge.

Arrivederci Venice!

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