Having lived in Italy now for nearly a month, students have begun to branch out and explore–not just within Arezzo, but in other Italian cities as well! Below, four Furman music students reflect on their favorite travel experiences so far around Italy, and how these adventures have started to change their perspectives as artists.
A Sunday in Cortona by Lilla Keith (Furman University, SC)
A few weekends ago, a group of us spent a Sunday afternoon in Cortona. What is so wonderful about this town is it is fifteen minutes by train from Arezzo and really easy to get to. We grabbed a taxi that took us up the mountain to the center of the town. When we got out of the taxi we were greeted with the most breathtaking view; you could see for miles! A few friends from Furman were involved in an art program in Cortona so we planned to meet up with them and share stories. Our friends showed us all around the town. We explored the churches and art exhibits, but the most special experience was when they showed us around their school. It was a good hike further up the mountain, but very much worth it. We walked into their studio, which looked like something out of a movie. All of their easels were lined up with canvases and paintings, both finished and unfinished. Walking around I was mesmerized by the amount of talent these students had. We saw their pottery studio as well as the metal working studio. All of the students were so passionate about their craft and so grateful to be in Italy day in and out doing what they love. It was a wonderful experience to see other artists doing what we do but in a different way. We enjoyed a lunch full of pizza, pasta and wine, then grabbed gelato on the way out. A simple trip to catch up with other artists turned into a heart-warming experience that further reminded us that we are here for such a wonderful opportunity.
Emily Lamb (Furman University, SC)
Ciao from Emily, the ADA’s resident undergrad violist! As part of the program, I travel each week to Firenze (Florence!) for my private viola lessons and I thought I’d share a couple of my experiences from my wanderings in Florence over the past 4 weeks.
Florence is really an incredible city. My first time in Florence, I noticed how touristy everything was around the Duomo, but despite this there are still quite a few places that are worth wandering into and visiting. I’m going to address my Italian traveling style and my Florence experiences so far through the most important pieces of Italian culture – gelato and le chiese (churches).
1) Gelato, in my humble opinion, is the most important Italian experience one can have, and if there is any hashtag that can explain my life over the past month, it is #gelatoeveryday. There are SO many good gelato places in Florence, but my recommendation (so far!) is Gelateria dei Neri near Santa Croce. It’s a little out of the way from my regular path BUT I specifically travel for gelato. And recommend that you do as well.
2) The other important experience for traveling Americans in Italy is visiting the many cathedrals the country has to offer (we don’t have those in America!). After my first lesson on September 14th, I happened to wander by San Lorenzo during the time for mass, and I followed a group of nuns in the church for the service. Although I identify as Baptist and am definitely not Catholic, I loved seeing the paintings and sculptures and participating in an everyday worship service at a cathedral of this size. What was especially inspiring as a music student was experiencing the acoustics of the sung liturgy in that space. It was beautiful.
I am incredibly grateful that this program has me traveling to Florence every week. But although there are always new things to find there, I always feel like I’m coming home when I get off of the train at the Arezzo stazione. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the term has in store.
Mackenzie Crim (Furman University, SC)
So this past week, we music students of the Accademia traveled to Venice for a few short days. Venice was a very unique and beautiful place, but there were also many bizarre and strange things about it as well. The initial impression you have once you arrive at the train station is a little overwhelming. The first thing you see once you exit the main doors is the Grand Canal, which is lined with beautiful historic mansions and museums, and filled with water taxis, gondolas and waterbuses; there are no cars in Venice. The second impression you have, which should come as no shock, is that Venice in its truest sense, is a teeming tourist destination filled with vendors selling souvenirs and selfie sticks.
While in Venice, our group went to the main tourist landmarks. We toured the incredible St. Mark’s Basilica and museum, as well as the Doge’s (Duke’s) palace and the connected Venetian prison. We went to see an opera called “Tosca” at the Venice Opera House, and a few of us ventured into the Peggy Guggenheim Modern Art Museum. We also traveled to some places off the beaten tourist path into the more residential areas by the University, where we found a lot of interesting restaurants and shops. It was both a fun and educational experience, filled with friends and art and I honestly loved it.
P.S. And please, for the love of God, don’t feed the pigeons.
Definitely Not in Kansas Anymore by Sully Hart (Furman University, SC)
In our travels to Florence and Venice, our group quickly discovered that those cities are two of the more popular tourist destinations in beautiful Italia. Our real challenge, therefore, (apart from figuring out the train system, navigating the maze that is Venice, deciding on the best gelato flavor to buy at any given moment, and not ducking and screaming in terror any time a pidgeon looked as if it was coming in for the kill) was to act like the non-touristy visitors. While we couldn’t exactly wear t-shirts that said, “I’ll have you know I’m living in this country for three months so I’ve graduated from toursit status and I got an A on my last Itaian quiz so I have a basic knowledge of the language,” we had quite a lot of convincing to do. We were American travelers trying not to look like it through the display of an expert knowledge of a city we’d never been to and a proficiency of a language we didn’t speak. How hard could it be? We didn’t buy selfie sticks on the street, so I think we got off to a good start. I think our real success came when we realized that we had journeyed to the wonderful Italian cities, not the other way around. As we were guests, it was simply common courtesy to order at a restaurant in Italian or to buy something in the cafe where you are desperately seeking a public restroom (the phrase “Dov’e il bagno?” can only get you so far). A water taxi ride down the grand canal wasn’t simply a tourist attraction to be posted on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, SnapChat, and MySpace (if people out there still use that), but rather much the best way to see this beautiful city steeped in history and culture. In learning the tricks of the trade for being a respectful world citizen, our touristy personas vanished despite our less-than-perfect Italian or our frequent consultations of the map.