Venice Week 4: February 13, 2018

What a surprise! I would have never imagined that my students literally LOVE Commedia dell’Arte! It is a genre I used to learn and practice when I was really young (which was a looong time ago), I’ve seen really hundreds of Commedia dell’Arte plays at theater (except for the one we’ve seen last Friday, as I said to Preston, “never too late to learn something new!”, at the point that I started to get tired of this way of acting, searching for more “complicated” genres. Last Friday I understood that Commedia Dell’Arte is still the most way of acting closer to the “soul” of Theater and closer to the Public, especially if played at Teatro Goldoni, the rare example of a typical Venice 1700 Theater. Guys, be prepared to be astonished, this Thursday, for the Opera at La Fenice Theater! 


Anna Santini
Professoressa of Performing Arts, Istituto Venezia


The past week here has been beautiful and I’m definitely looking forward to not needing leggings under my pants soon! We are in the final stretch of Carnevale and Venice is a little bit of a zoo unfortunately. Also, I will be saying goodbye to my addiction of fritelle, my favorite sweet treat here,​​​​ after the festival is over next week. I found a little fritelle cookbook, however, and it’s been fun translating that and making notes of recipes I want to try. In class this week we learned more about la Commedia dell’Arte, the early form of comedy as a profession. The indoor theaters were, and still are so elaborate and beautiful. Above the main level seating, multiple floors of little rooms lined the inside of the theater which wealthy people rented. They are enclosed, with a curtain, table and chairs for dinner service and privacy. We were fortunate to go to Teatro Communale Carlo Goldoni for a show and witness the beautiful interior and fun and witty spirit of Venetian comedy- such a neat experience. In music class we went to an old ospedale (hospital) which was transformed into basically an orphanage. The girls were taught to play music, sing, and perform. Seeing some of the old instruments made me want to hear how they sounded. In Italian we have a new teacher. Apparently she likes to cook and she showed me an authentic Italian food blog where I can find recipes. She also taught me that the Italians use fresh mozzarella because the crust absorbs the moisture as the cheese melts!

At home this week Libby and I made some tasty food. We’ve also enjoyed checking out different markets for our groceries and exploring in the meantime. We had to laugh at ourselves, though, because one night we went to a super-market in the Rialto area and ended up getting lost and walking in circles. Then after walking with some friends a couple days later we realized we actually could have walked about five minutes more to our house instead of taking a half hour vaporetto ride that night. The meatball sandwiches and homemade bread later were worth waiting though. I made a big batch of marinara sauce and we got creative with different ways to use it: with eggs and toast in the morning, gnocchi and vegetables, chicken panini, meatballs, and pizza! We also went to the market at the Rialto and picked up fresh fish. we saw a swordfish and might try that next weekend! This weekend, we made cod with lemon and capers and beer battered shrimp. On the way home, we came across a street band and watched them for a bit. This culture is so neat and I learn more and more each day! Looking forward to yet another week in this lovely place.     


It has been a fun filled week to say the least. Some highlights were meeting new people, making pizza from scratch, buying a Carnevale mask, and going to the production of Arlecchino Furioso at the Goldoni Theater.

I forget just how much I enjoy theater until I’m sitting down to watch a production and I just can’t help but smile. This night I had a smile plastered to my face.

The setup of the theater was a show in its self. The high ceiling was painted almost like a mandala and from the center hung a gorgeous chandelier. There was ‘stadium’ seating around the walls, which were not occupied for this performance. However, Anna, our teacher, said that back in the day the first two rows of the of the stadium seats were the most expensive and preferred seats. In contrast floor seating was cheaper and for the less prestigious. Upper class people enjoyed the higher seating because it showed their elevation physically and socially over subordinate classes. It is interesting to see how preference in seating has evolved over time.

The play itself was completely spectacular and definitely one of the best I have ever seen. These actors were very devoted to their characters which made the experience that much more engaging. Some of us students were a bit reserved wondering if we would be able to understand the play due to the fact that it was in Italian. However, that was not the case. There were subtitles and we were able to piece together the dialogue based on the Italian we have been learning in class.  It was actually a bonus because the play gave us the opportunity to practice our Italian too.

I believe the elegance and beauty of the room added to the effects and enjoyment of the play. It was a completely wonderful night and a different theater experience than what I’ve known in the past. I know most of us students would be interested in seeing another production, so I look forward to going back.


I can’t believe that it has already been a month since I arrived in Europe. Time has been flying by quickly. With everyday my Italian starts to improve along with my sense of direction. Abby and I have had more time for exploring this past week and now it feels like I have the place well mapped out in my head, but we did get lost one day for about an hour. I have enjoyed my history of music and theater class this week. We learned about Ospedale and how they were charitable institutions for girls who were orphaned. Within these Ospedale was the teaching of music. We even got to go and visit one where Vivaldi worked and taught music. My favorite part of the week was going to the theater to watch a play. The play was spectacular and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Although it made me miss my grandparents, who take me to the Bigfork playhouse all the time.

I have discovered my new favorite meal, meatball subs. Abby made homemade sauce, bread, and meatballs….it was so delicious. I assisted in the meatball making and I supervised the other cooking. The meatballs subs weren’t the only fantastic food I consumed this week. Abby and I also went to the fresh market and deep-fried shrimp and fish, plus we also had a homemade pizza night and invited some of the others to join us. I have been eating well this week so it is probably a good thing that Abby and I decided to go for a run in the sunshine today.



Another week already passed! With how nice and sunny it was our first week here the past few have seemed even colder with the rain and overcast days. But every so often the sun makes an appearance. On one such day during our break between classes Savannah and I found a nice sunny spot to sit on some church steps. Several other people were also lounging on the steps enjoying the bit of sun. It gave the front of the church the appearance of a beach covered in basking seals. I was happy to finally have some time to just sit outside and not be freezing. I was also finally able to do something that I had been planning on doing for the entire trip. I sat and drew what was in front of me. Drawing buildings isn’t exactly my strength and it’s hard to get practice drawing cityscapes in Kalispell. But here anywhere you go has interesting arrangements of buildings that lend themselves to interesting compositions and challenges in perspective. It’s still a bit cold most days to draw outside for any extended amount of time but hopefully as it warms up I will be able to draw more in the days to come.

 Meanwhile on the school side of things we finally got to go to a play! I was worried at my lack of fluency with Italian and assumed I would understand very little of what was actually happening in the play. However, they actually had subtitles in English which was immensely helpful. Also, not all of the dialogue was in Italian, some characters even spoke French and there was some English mixed in as well. Between my knowledge of French and what I know in Italian so far, I was able to understand a lot more of the dialogue than I thought I would. Also, while the plays we read in class were in the same style as the one we saw I found watching it far more amusing than reading. The way the actors delivered their lines and interacted with the audience, like calling for a tourist’s shoe to be used to awaken the protagonist from a drunken stupor.  I hope I can see more plays while I’m here and I look forward to the opera we get to see next week!    


Greetings from Venice.  This last week sure seem to fly by in such blur it just ain’t fair.  In Italian language class this week we learned about prepositional phrases, which is a real challenge.  It took a couple days for me to finally rap my head around it.  I am excited about the new teacher we had on Friday.  Her name is Anna and she has so much energy!  He speaks extremely loud, which helps with pronunciation.  However, she’s very strict and there’s no slacking off while she’s teaching.  I don’t mind because the more practice the better in my case.  I’m glad we got a new teacher, she reviews topics we already learned but explains them in a different way which really helps clear up any confusion.  In short, I’m excited for a new teacher I think it’s going be really fun.

Friday night we attended a short comedy at a local theater.  I thought it was so interesting, seeing how plays in Italy differ from plays in the United States.  I was extremely happy for the subtitles displayed behind the stage.  Saturday morning, myself and two companions took a journey up into the mountains north of Venice, to go for a hike and visit a sanctuary. I was so thankful to get outside of the city and see the more local parts of Italy.  Personally, my favorite part was when I saw a Ferrari.  I really like cars but it’s hard in Venice, a city of boats and canals.  So in summary, this week was great and hope the next can be just as cool.


Ciao from Venice Once Again!

Carnevale is just about over, so this weekend was filled with so many celebrations, costumes, and people everywhere. It was quite a sight to see! The costumes were even more beautiful and crazier. The crowds were still at large and annoying as usual. There were even giddy children blowing incredibly pitchy whistles in the streets; specially at the perfect moment when you were walking right past them so you lost your hearing for a second or two, and maybe experienced some cardiac arrest at the same time. Also, I managed to get a sinus and ear infection at the beginning of the week, so most the days blend into each other thanks to my illness. Hopefully, this will be the last time I get sick on this trip. Needless to say, it was still a very wonderful week. 

Our classes are beginning to escalate even more with finals and midterms approaching ever too quickly. We’re almost finished with our Italian 1 class, which is crazy to think about since it feels like we’ve only been in the class for two weeks. Gosh, time sure flies! We also just said goodbye to our first Italian professor, Deborah, and now have a new professor for our Italian class, Anna, and she is a firecracker of a teacher (in a good way of course!). Our music and theater classes have been very fun and interesting. We’ve been studying comedy plays in our theater class from the Renaissance era, and we even saw a play by the Rialto called, “Arlecchino Furioso” at the Teatro Goldoni. That was such an amazing night! The play really emphasized the importance of costumes, duels, songs, music, and pantomimes during Renaissance. It really was something special. I cannot wait to enjoy more Venetian plays!

With Carnevale coming to a close, I sure am happy to see the crowds leave so the city is no longer too congested. I can’t wait to explore more, try more amazing meals, and experience the beauty of this city even more. I’m still in awe that we get to live and study here. It all still feels surreal at times, and I absolutely love it. 

Until next time from this Italian city!

Ciao ciao!


Ciao Kalispell!

This week we met with our new Italian instructor, Anna. She corrected our pronunciation several times and made sure we understood the parts of speech. Although she was very stern, she was extremely helpful. It seems that her teaching methods will help our class improve our grasp of the Italian language.

On Friday we had a fun surprise, instead of the usual two-hour theater lecture, we went to go see, Arlecchino Furiosso, a theater play. I don’t normally go to plays, so I didn’t know what to expect. I waited anxiously on my seat wondering what creatures or mystical beings would come out from behind the curtains. When the actors did come out, I was surprised to hear them translating the play in four different languages: Italian, French, Spanish, and English. Anyways, the play was the typical love story where boy meets girl but boy leaves girl and comes back, searching for his one true love while the universe conspires against their love with several trials to discover that their love is truly pure and sincere. It was pretty amusing to watch these talented actors run around the stage like mad men.

The best part about this week was the free weekend we had from school so a few of my classmates and I decided to take advantage of this opportunity and escape to Spiazzi, Italia to find the Sanctuary of Madonna della Corona. It is a shrine that was built onto the side of the Baldo rocks, almost seems as if it was carved out of the rocks. The church hides in the tiny town of Spiazzi, behind all the mountains and trees where you can feel the tranquil aura that surrounded the church. Many people come to Madonna della Corona to meditate and appreciate the beautiful sculptures of Jesus that are placed along the trails. These kinds of unforgettable experiences really make me appreciate the opportunity I have to study and explore this beautiful country.


This was a week of stepping into my own and exploring the deeper corners of Venice. I happened to meet two English photographers on location here for Carnevale. They were shooting some amazing events with lavish costumes and masks for a company based in England. I got the chance to snap some photos with them and trek around Venice to give them some insight on the best spots to shoot. It finally got me out of bed to see the sunrise anyway! My favorite part of this little adventure was watching them film a small music video for their company, the set was really fun and fairly casual. Walking around with them got me more acquainted with Venice’s layout and now I feel more confident in finding my way back from anywhere, even the industrial part of Dorsoduro. Back home at our apartment, Abby got to test out the art of making real Italian pizza. They turned out amazing (as Abby’s cooking always does) and we decided that grilling them was the best way to go for authentic taste. Some of our group came over for the mini pizza party before my absolute favorite part of this week, our trip to Arlecchino Furioso in the amazing Goldoni theatre.

Theatre class has not failed to impress, as soon as I saw the classic Commedia dell’Arte that Anna took us to, Arlecchino Furioso, I bought more tickets to another show the following week. Arlecchino Furioso was a sweet tale of two true loves parted by war and, through a series of blunders, disguises, and even their own demise, they find their way back to each other in the end. The theatre itself is gorgeous, I can only imagine the types of noble men and women who attended the shows of the 16th century there. The ornate walls and balconies are impossible to do justice on paper. This trip got me even more excited to see one of our future locations, the Fenice Opera House. Along with the theatre portion of class, music has been just as enthralling. I discovered I live just about a block from where the infamous Vivaldi was born. I have been listening to his music in and out of class this week as we’ve gotten to discover the different places he lived and Hospital (Ospedale) he contributed to the teachings in. Venice has no corner untouched by every wonder in this world, I can’t wait to see what we’ll discover in our classes next week.


Buongiorno Kalispell,

The clouds have cleared, and the sun is shining down on us this past week in Venice. This was one of the most filled and eventful weeks we have experienced so far in my humble opinion. Tables have turned in Italian and we had to say goodbye to our first teacher Deborah, who we will surely miss, and acclimate to our new one, Anna, who has a very different way of instructing that will take some time to get used to. We also toured Antonia Vivaldi’s church Thursday for History of Music. I thoroughly enjoyed walking through the ancient hallways of this sanctuary as every stairway was a miniature white space that spiraled up to forked paths and hidden doorways. I can easily imagine the wails and laughter of babies and gleeful girls fleeing from the tagger in these passages as the church was also an orphanage for girls. They were taught how to play wood instruments and sing in a choir then would teach the girls under them how to play till it closed. This was a very important and not very common schooling that Vivaldi was brave enough to inspire.

Luckily this was a free weekend for us and Angelica, myself, and Preston bought train tickets to Verona headed towards an online picture that I was sold on. Leaving the next day on the 8:12 a.m. train we arrived at Verona around 9:30 and purchased our bus tickets to Spiazzi. This gave us a two-hour space till the bus came that we spent walking around Verona and talking. The bus took us through the city and the countryside to Caprino where we had to pick up a different bus to get to Spiazzi. The small town of Spiazzi is about halfway up a mountain with winding and narrow roads giving away to a breathtaking view of the valley below and a snow-capped mountain range across. Once there, it is only a twenty-minute walk to the Madonna della Caprina sanctuary, the alternative route is a two hour hike up, then there was a thousand stairs. The cathedral is hanging out on a cliff face overlooking the valley and endless switchbacks of stairs used as a main pilgrimage route. It made a beautiful day trip and a much-needed breath of fresh air and elevation gain. Hope all enjoyed, hold tight till next week.