Venice Week 10: March 29, 2018

Ciao Tutti!

We have returned from our Spring Educational Tour making our way through Emilia Romano Umbria, Marche, and Tuscan Regions with our dear friend and invaluable Autista (driver), Maurizio Millanaccio.  As you will see there are many highlights to visit about which makes it difficult to choose what to share…

An amazing opportunity for me was taking our students to Popolonia where there is a necropolis from the Ancient Etruscans.  For the first time reservations were needed…this was not seen on their website….we were able to enter the ruins at the end of the day with an archeologist named, Flavio, who not only is a Roman but has ancestry from that particular area.  He has been working there since 2006 and explained things they have discovered.  Because no translations of what few artifacts that contain writing exist, the archeologists can only speculate their findings as they try to put things in context.  We were able to visit one of the largest “mounds” (burial house tomb) and we learned of their life, precious objects, hierarchy, that they were powerful with smelting and trading with iron.  The women were 1st class citizens with all privileges…this made the women “tourists” of the time very jealous and so they called the Etruscan women “prostitutes”.

A second highlight and for me was at the Galleria Degli Uffizi in Firenze (Florence) where they are expanding the building in innovative ways to enable them to exhibit more of the vast collection of the Medici family.  The past three years Leonardo daVinci”s,  Adoration of the Magi, has been under restoration and cleaning.  When we entered into a dim room there was a video playing about the discoveries from these processes and then we saw the restored piece.  We watched as the restoration artists were at work as they described their findings. The unfinished painting reveals Leonardo’s creative process and genius intelligence of charcoal, inks, and oil-based washes.  So much was revealed about his gestural hand at drawing (I couldn’t take my eyes off of it), and then we learned how the wooden backing was reinforced. Perhaps the entity that made me completely emotional (if I wasn’t already) was the fact they found Leonardo’s fingerprints and his whole handprint on the painting…these are moments I live for as a painter who embraces the Master’s works and techniques…I cannot stop thinking about what I was able to witness….

I was very proud of our group.  Everywhere we went, the restaurants and hotels told me what a nice and polite group of young people we had.  I also felt the appreciation and gratitude of the students for all they were able to experience. In Italy, as you travel, you begin to understand things can shift like sand and you must learn to be patient and work out whatever it is that may not have gone as exactly planned…like things you cannot control like the weather…life skills in action… Our students displayed patience, maturity, a can-do spirit, and rolled with any adjustments we had to make.  I felt they were right there with me, even in the largest museums like the Uffizi, which takes a lot of attention and energy. I also witnessed close bonds between the students being made. These will be life- long friendships. Our driver and dear friend, Maurizio, was loved by everyone and when we departed from him in Florence, he was missed.  Maurizio helps me make a lot of things happen!  We had a fantastic “giro in Italia”!!!  I loved every minute of teaching, traveling, sharing meals and memories, laughing with, and enjoying these intelligent, amazing, and beautiful people!  What a privilege and honor!

La settimana prossima!

With Enthusiasm,


FVCC Semester in Venice, Director


Ciao Kalispell!

We have finally returned from touring around Italy. We visited many museums, churches, and castles around several small towns like Pomposa, Urbino, and Ravenna; we even went to the island of Elba. We stayed in each town for a day or two and many great friendships developed within our group as we traveled in our cozy little silver bus that we had considered our home. As the days passed, I began to acclimate myself to this traveling “roadtripping” lifestyle. We would stop in a small town, check out a church or a museum, explore the area, and move on to our next destination. At first, the feeling of sitting inside a moving vehicle was odd, due to the fact that we had been living in a realm, Venice, where the word or the sound of a car didn’t exist, but afterwards, it became comforting and familiar. This didn’t mean we didn’t walk as much because we still strolled around the towns for hours searching for the city’s hidden treasures. Like a majestic castle at the top of the city, the Ducal Palace, located in the city of Urbino, with its beautiful Renaissance architecture and its harmonious external shapes that make the structure feel open and welcoming to the public. We also navigated to the island of Elba, the very place where Napoleon was exiled after failing to unite all of Europe under his rule. Fortunately, he escaped to France and raised a new Grand Army which was later defeated at the Waterloo. Although Napoleon may have disliked the idea of living the rest of his life in Elba, I beg to differ. The sight of trees and mountains reminded me of all the beautiful summers in Montana. I sat on the sand and watched the sunrise and the sunset and greeted the moon as it shimmered above the ocean waves and realized how lucky and grateful I was to have had the opportunity to be part of this Italian journey.


7 places, 5 hotels, and many euros worth of food later and we are on our way back to Venice. Tour was truly a blast. Many hours were spent riding on our bus, but those were some of my favorite times. I enjoyed curling up by the window and watching out the windows. I got to see many different countrysides and everything was just breathtaking. Not only was this tour full of beautiful landscapes, but I learned a lot and it helped paint a better picture of Italy in my head.

Assisi was like traveling back in time. Walking the streets of Assisi, I half excepted to see a knight on a horse riding around. My favorite thing we visited on Assisi was the Basilica of St. Francis. Giotto painted this beautiful Gothic styled basilica. I really enjoy the work Giotto puts out there. I wish I had pictures of the basilica but…no photo. The whole entire church was just covered in beautifully done artwork and every inch was covered with painted designs. Another thing I enjoyed in Assisi was walking up to the Rocca Maggiore. Abby, Dani, and I walked upon this ancient castle and explored the grounds a bit. We got a great view of the town up there and it was neat to see all of the vineyards.

Florence was also spectacular. I was most excited to see the David and let me tell you, he did not disappoint. I was also pretty excited to see some of the works in the Uffizi. We spent hours within that museum because there is truly so much to see it can almost be overwhelming. My favorites were La Primavera and Birth of Venus ..oh course. I learned a lot about the interpretations of the pieces, form,  color, value, elements and principles. It was very interesting and eye opening. Florence was also not only great for art but also the food. I went to the same gelato shop three days in a row, it was that good. Florence might have also been my favorite place on tour because of the abundance of sunshine we were blessed with.

I could write so much more about this tour but really it doesn’t matter how much I write I still would not be able to describe the things we did and the things we saw. Rain or shine the group always managed a way to make the day fun. What a great way to end my trip to Italy. I never want to leave.


Ciao Tutti!

Our nine-day tour was so great! We saw so many cities, met great people, and of course learned lots! I feel very blessed to have gotten the opportunity to experience other regions of Italy in such a unique way. For the majority of our trip, we had a personal van driven by a sweet Italian man, Maurizio. We even took the whole bus on a ferry to the island of Elba! We learned about so much but I think the highlight of our art class was seeing the David in Florence and learning about Michelangelo. I knew it would be magnificent, but one will never truly realize how magnificent the David is until they see it in person. Besides it’s size, the anatomical correctness and obvious skill and planning it took to pull this off is overwhelming. And Michelangelo was only 29 when he finished this. We learned that it was originally supposed to be placed on the buttress of Florence’s main cathedral. However, the sculpture is eight and a half tons, about as heavy as four cars, and needless to say never made it up there. We also learned that Michelangelo used to dissect bodies to comprehend the anatomy- and he really understood it, something unusual for his time. The more I looked, from every angle, the more I noticed each detail: the veins of his hands, the texture of his hair, all his muscles, etc. This man was ahead of his time and it’s no wonder the Pope was all over him for his work.

On this tour I had many opportunities to try new food and experience the food culture of different regions of Italy I had not seen. In Urbino, Assisi, and a little in Florence, the prized white and black truffles were incorporated all throughout the cuisine. I learned about these in culinary school so it was cool to experience them in my food as they are unbelievably expensive in America. Then in Urbino and the island of Elba, we were able to try lots of tasty wild boar (cinghiale) with paplaradelle as well as fresh seafood. Florence was the icing on the cake. This place was a mecca for fantastic food as far as I’m concerned. I learned that pane “levieto di madre” is the Italian name for sourdough bread and tried it for the first time in Italy. I also tried burrata bufala with tartufo (a fresh cheese), tigelle (large and flat English muffin looking sandwich of the region), the best pizza and gelato I’ve ever had, and the famous la bistecca fiorentina. Dani, Libby, and I split this famous steak of Florence because it is literally a whole kilogram; that’s 2.2 pounds and about a 1 1/2 inch thick T-bone steak! It was a great ending to our Florence experience. I also had lots of great sweets: baba, Sfogliatella, semifreddo, zabaione tartuffo, and many many croissants to name a few. My favorite to learn about, however, was the typical cake of Elba which is reddish-pink in color due to the incorporation of the region’s wine, Aleatico. It is very dry for dipping in tea and to me had a slightly floral and spice taste probably from the wine. It also has raisins and pine nuts in it to add to its delicious taste! I made so many great memories and discoveries on this tour!


We just got back from tour and the trip was incredible! We visited so many unique places each town/city had its own flair and unique characteristics.

My favorite place we visited has to be La Isola D’Elba. This was the island Napoleon was exiled to in 1814 after trying to invade Russia (which backfired immensely for him). We were able to visit the house he lived in during this time and learned a brief history/recount of his life. His house is situated between two large fortress lookouts above the ocean with a view of Tuscany. IT was so cool because being in his home and seeing his view of the mainland gives so much insight as to his thoughts and persona. This vantage point allowed him security and intel as to enemy attacks. He had two homes on the island because if this fear of attack and was said to have slept few hours nightly and when he did, he slept outside in his garden.

Other highlights of the trip include driving through the countryside of Italy. There was so much greenery and farmlands. We stopped in many small towns along the way and explored some landmarks as we stretched our legs from sitting in the bus. The bus tour was only heightened by Maurizio our bus driver, he was a really funny kind man. He always joked around with us and also drove us all over Italy safely, I speak for everyone when I say that we loved his company.

The tour unfortunately has come and gone quicker than expected but it was definitely the cherry on top of this semester in Italy.


Ten days of seeing Italy is not enough! I think forever would be better. We saw the most amazing places on tour, from medieval towns made of stone to the New York of Italy, Florence. It was stunning. I immediately fell in love with Assisi, especially, because of it’s winding streets and castle like buildings. Everyone back home can expect a gift from there. We also had amazing tastings of pesto, chocolate, cheese, olive oil, and more at an amazing local ceramics shop. This was my favorite part of tour. Besides Assisi, I really enjoyed trekking around Florence with Kimy and Savannah, who are going to definitely be lifelong friends of mine. I think all three of us can agree it was nice having food other than pizza and pasta for a change; we ate a lot of Chinese food whenever the opportunity arose. The big city feel and the diversity of Florence got me a bit excited for the near future – I’ll be moving to Santa Barbara in July with my best friend Casey.

Other than exploring the beautiful towns we visited, we really got a feel for the history of each one. We also saw amazing paintings of some of the great artists we’ve been talking about throughout the semester. Some of my favorites were Giotto, Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Botticelli. The most amazing piece we saw (for me) was the David by Michelangelo. Kimy, Savannah and I sat in the Galleria Degli Accademia drawing him from every angle until the museum closed and kicked us out. I got in touch with the artist in me again and practiced my 3D realism (that was actually discovered in the Renaissance). The art was fantastic, but I can’t leave out the amazing architecture we saw. By far my favorite place we visited was the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi. The blues of Giotto’s starry night ceiling are breath taking, as is the Gothic influence of the three holy spaces inside. The colors were vibrant and you can see artists are just beginning to discover the idea of perspective. I know for sure that I am going there again, and hopefully everywhere else we went in this amazing trip.


Recently, we just finished the infamous ten-day tour in Italy, and it was absolutely amazing! The experience, the places, the people, the art, and the food were just fantastic. Through this tour, we were able to discover many beautiful places that one would never think to travel to, so this lead to some dear memories that I will forever cherish. I hope to return to at least a few of these destinations when I visit Italy once again!

First off, one of my top favorite towns we visited was Assisi because it was such a unique place since it was a city built on a mountain. With many beautiful alleyways and streets, it provided a refreshing experience to walk about another lovely, Italian town. Also, the views from the top of the mountain, which was where a castle was also located at, were just breathtaking. I would’ve loved to have stayed longer, but unfortunately the weather conditions were a bit unpleasant. In Assisi, we visited the Basilica of Saint Francesco, which was also very beautiful because there were colorful frescoes everywhere on the walls and ceilings done in Byzantine and Gothic style. I’d have to say it was one of my favorite basilicas we’ve visited during this whole semester. Secondly, I highly enjoyed the city of Florence! There was so much to do there since it was a bigger city compared to most of the places we’ve previously visited, so of course we had lots of fun. My favorite moment during our stay in Florence was when we visited the Uffizi Museum. It was a dream come true! A couple of my favorite pieces from the museum include: Venus of Urbino by Titian, A Rabbi by Rembrandt, and The Birth of Venus by Botticelli. One that stuck out to me the most was Botticelli’s piece because it has always held a special place in my heart because it’s a Renaissance painting that represents beauty, love, and an exciting celebration for the arrival of spring (Venus).

As this semester comes to an end, I intend to enjoy ever last bit of Italy before moving on to my next adventures in Europe. Personally, I really do believe this semester has been life changing. I’m forever thankful for all the experiences, struggles, lessons, and people I’ve encountered during my time here in Venice. I will forever cherish these memories and adventures I’ve been blessed with. This has truly been an experience of a lifetime.

Okay, ciao Tutti!


Hello Kalispell, the weather has finally cleared, and the sun is shining here in Italy. This past week and a half has gone by much faster than anticipated while on tour and the end of the trip is coming faster than wanted. Touring a few places in Italy was a much-needed break from the hectic schedule in Venice and provided a welcome change of scenery. The flat land and buildings morphed into hills and trees and the cities became quaint medieval houses centered around a castle. The castle on a hill fantasy became a true reality for me this week and it was a joy to explore the niches and high walls of such towns.

Urbino was our first destination for the night and arriving in the dark made the morning view that much more amazing. The history of Urbino’s last ruler is also a great fairy tale story of goodness and valor. Frederico was one of the best dukes and lords a village could ask for. He retained the throne from his not so good brother and ruled with love and quality for the people while also never losing a battle.  His wife similarly was known for her charity and kindness so much that her servants refused to return without her presence there after she passed in childbirth.

Assisi was the second town we stayed in, though, we did not get to stay within the castle walls it was still amazing. St. Francis cathedral was the main place we went to see in Assisi, with its Roman and Gothic style sitting on a vantage point above the city it is an impressive sight inside and out. St. Francis gave up the army after a message from the heavens disgracing his family as a result and dedicated his life to the poor. Through him the first nunnery was born, and people still look to his legacy to do good for themselves and others.

Overall, the trip was truly amazing with all the places we were able to see and the experiences we had there could be no replacement. I am sad to think that this is the last week we will all have here in Venice and that by the end everyone will be parting ways for new adventures or to return home. We will have to make it our best and without a doubt one of the most memorable. Hold on strong for one more week and I hope spring is thawing out Montana as it is here.


Hello Everyone,

I don’t even know where to begin when I think about the last couple of weeks.  Tour was a wonderful experience, we were able to spend ten days touring Italy, seeing small towns to the famous Renaissances city, Florence.  I was able to see original art pieces from artist like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.  It seems unreal and went by way to fast.

One of my favorite places we visited was the town of Urbino.   The entire town is all inside of a castle wall, and it took me less than half an hour to walk the entire place so you can imagine just how small and local this place was.  The night we arrived I went to relax in a small restaurant and I struck up a nice conversation with a native Italian. After learning we both loved motorcycles and to travel, we spent hours talking and laughing.  His name was Simon and he lives in Rome, so I’m excited to say I made a new Italian friend.  The next morning we toured the castle of Urbino, home of the Duke of Urbino.  It was very interesting learning about the Duke because he wasn’t your usual monarch.  He was an experienced military hero who won many battles in his career, however what really made him stand out was the way he ruled his subject.  He never abused his power or neglected his people.  He was a just and fair ruler, who protected and was liked by his people.  Of course, I had a nice laugh when I ran into my new friend Simon in the museum, just showing how small the town was.

I loved when staying on the Island of Elba as well, we were able to tour the house Napoleon lived in during his time being exiled from France.  We then toured the entire island the same day, traveling around in our amazing little bus on some of the most exciting and twisty roads I have ever seen.  It reminded me of going to the sun road in GNP, small and full of curves.

I had a blast in the city of Florence as well, seeing the Academia and Uffizi Museums.  I saw the legendary sculpture, David, and original paintings by Leonardo da Vinci.  The town was beautiful at night and the food was amazing.  My favorite meal on the entire tour was in Florence when I had a Florentine steak.  I was definitely top five best steaks I have ever had.

I can’t express how thankful I am to do such amazing things with a great group of people.  We learned so much and had a blast the doing it.  So until next time, take care everyone!


What a crazy two weeks we’ve had! We had super packed days and I got to see a crazy amount of art and other amazing things in the short amount of time we were on tour. I loved the island of Elba, from the small towns on the beach to the forests that reminded me a bit of home. Our first day there it was rainy and the wind was howling. The beginning of our tour seemed like we were cursed with terrible weather. After dinner that night me, Savannah and Dorothy decided that regardless of the weather we were going to take advantage of being right next to the beach and go for a walk on the beach. It was cold and the rain was being blown sideways by the wind. Exiting the hotel, we immediately broke out into song, “let it go” to be exact. We walked fast to the beach that was covered in black and white pebbles. Legend has it that the stones were originally white but when Jason and the Argonauts (of golden fleece fame) landed on the beach, their sweat stained the stones with black spots. Being out on the beach as night watching the sea crash onto the beach as the wind howled in my ears was amazing. It was a fun stroll on the beach even though we got a bit soaked from the rain and the spray coming off of the waves.

I have seen more amazing art in person over tour than I’m sure many people see in their entire lives. In Florence we went to the Uffizi and got to see some of Leonardo’s paintings, such as the Baptism of Christ.  We learned that he only did one angel while working with his master, Verroccio. We also saw The Annunciation. My favorite piece was actually one of his unfinished paintings, The Adoration of the Magi. I have this huge art crush on Leonardo da Vinci, I just absolutely love how his painting have this life to them. Most of all though I love his drawings from his note books, both his drawings for painting he did and his drawings for inventions. From any artist really, I love all the messy stuff, seeing the process that leans to the finished polished piece. That is why I really loved seeing Adoration of the Magi, you can see the drawing and underpainting and get an idea of what the finished work was going to look at. I loved seeing all of the tiny details that are draw in and not yet painted like an elephant drawing on a large rock in the background.

It was really awesome seeing his stuff in person, I just feel inspired to get my art as detailed as his