Last Updated: June 14, 2017.
Itinerary-related FAQ at bottom of page.
This is NOT a final itinerary! Events may be shuffled around to better fit the weekly schedule once we have officially confirmed our travel dates and reservations. During the trip, scheduled events may be shifted due to weather, unexpected closures, and the like.
Nota bene: You will receive 7-day vaporetto tickets; after that, you may choose to walk or to pay for your own individual vaporetto tickets. Train ticket prices are covered to Verona and Florence.
Your journal must contain 12 response essays and 12 works of visual art. It may contain multiple art photos, but only 3 photos will count toward the required 12 artworks. See description of assignment at the end of this itinerary.
You will be asked to blog about your experiences on imaginingvenice.com, and post photos from the day, on a regular basis; we will work out your blogging schedule before the trip.
We will also grade, during this trip, your successful completion of the 5 assigned “treasure hunts,” usually at the end of each day or over breakfast on the next. You may travel in teams to complete the hunts.
Day 1: (tentatively, Monday, May 14)
- TBD, Take off from your departure airport to meet in Venice from your own arranged flight.
You will be met at Marco Polo airport and taken to our palazzo.
Day 2: (tentatively, Tuesday, May 15)
Arrive in Venice in the evening and settle into Palazzo degli Angeli (S. Angelo vaporetto stop). You’ll be met at the Venice airport by our Italian contacts and at the S. Angelo vaporetto stop by your professors, who’ll take you to the palazzo.
- Finish “Hunt 9: Where Have You Seen…” by the end of the trip!
- Claim rooms, snack, talk, and hit the sack.
Day 3: (tentatively, Wednesday, May 16)
|Today’s Journal Assignment: In several paragraphs, record your first impressions of your new tourist home. Feel free to sketch, write a poem, or write in prose. Do not tell us what you did — tell us how you felt about what you did.|
- Up early in the morning to visit the Basilica di San Marco (line up at 9 a.m.; basilica opens at 9:45 a.m., about 1 hour). Remember, bare shoulders, stomachs, and/or knees are not permitted in the basilica.
- Visit the Palazzo Ducale (paid: use Musei ticket).
- Conduct “Hunt 5: Doge’s Palace” from Venetian Hunts & Puzzles.
- Lunch together.
- Group gondola ride. Paid.
- Go grocery shopping — buy whatever you plan to cook/eat during your stay.
- Regroup & discuss.
- Grade Hunt 5.
- Dinner together at Rossa Rossa, if reservations can be made (paid).
Day 4: (tentatively, Thursday, May 17)
|Today’s Journal Assignment: Reflect on Venice as a mercantile capital and the site of The Merchant of Venice. Sketch, paint, write a poem, or photograph some aspect of this myth of Venice and discuss it in your journal. Emphasize commerce rather than the experience of tourism; you’ll get to write about tourism later.|
- Walking tour of the Venetian Ghetto in Cannaregio.
- Visit Rialto and Chiesa di San Salvador as we return from the ghetto tour. Finish “Hunt 6: San Salvador” from Venetian Hunts & Puzzles. (San Salvador: 9 a.m. to noon, 3-7 p.m.)
- Lunch on your own.
- 3:30 p.m. Regroup at the Zattere vaporetto stop with painting gear for our first painting. Take vaporetto to Guidecca to Palladio’s Santissimo Redentore (10 a.m.-5 p.m.) and go inside to look around.
- Wander with us or find dinner on your own in Guidecca, a little-visited part of Venice.
- 6:30 p.m. Return to Redentore and paint the view across the canal of Santa Maria del Rosario [aka Gesuati] or paint Redentore from below.
Day 5: (tentatively, Friday, May 18)
|Today’s Journal Assignment: Reflect on “Venice: decadent and dying” as we visit the cemetery island. Sketch, paint, write a poem/story/scene, or photograph — reflect on death as symbol and metaphor as you write.|
- Grade Hunt 3 over breakfast.
- Vaporetto together from Fondamente Nuove to San Michele, the cemetery island
— wander on your own: journal, paint, and/or sketch. Please note that photographs are forbidden in the cemetery.
- Return together.
- Lunch on your own.
- 3 p.m. Regroup at Accademia Museum: Finish “Hunt 4: Accademia” from Venetian Hunts & Puzzles. (Accademia: 8:15 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. Tickets paid.)
- Eat dinner on your own.
Day 6: (tentatively, Saturday, May 19)
|Today’s Journal Assignment: Take some time to reflect on yourself as a tourist in Venice. How do you feel about being a tourist? What changes have you experienced as a tourist from your first day here to this one, almost a week later? Is tourism good or bad for people and places?|
- Grade Hunt 7 over breakfast.
- All-Day Island Tour:
- Vaporetto to Murano, Burano & Torcello — bring your art supplies.
- Lunch together on Burano (paid).
- Dinner on your own, but remember that we’re getting up early the next morning.
Day 7: (tentatively, Sunday, May 20)
|Today’s Journal Assignment: Describe in prose or poetry the light of Venice — find your favorite light/time of day and paint or photograph it. (If it’s raining today, swap with tomorrow’s question.)|
- 6 a.m.: Paint Piazza San Marco from San Giorgio Maggiore or San Giorgio Maggiore from Piazza San Marco, in the style of Turner (@3 hours).
- Get lost and make art!
- Suggestions: The Peggy Guggenheim Museum, Mocenigo Museum, Ca’ Pesaro Museum, Fortuny Museum, Correr Museum, Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo, Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, the la Fenice opera house, any church we won’t be touring, or take the elevator up to the San Marco campanile. Take the ferry from Saint Mark’s square across to San Giorgio Maggiore and take the campanile to the top for a beautiful photograph.
- Regroup at 6 p.m. & share the day’s art and explorations. Take photos of artwork and post on blog.
- Home-cooked Sunday dinner! Be ready to show off your culinary (or dishwashing) skills….
Day 8: (tentatively, Monday, May 21)
|Today’s Journal Assignment: Reflect on your experiences as a foreigner who doesn’t speak the language of the country. How might the experience of foreigners in the U.S. differ, if at all?|
- Grade Hunt 4 over breakfast.
- 7 a.m. Visit the Rialto market to fill the refrigerator for the weekend!
- 10 a.m. Regroup at palazzo. Visit Santa Maria dei Miracoli together and complete “Hunt 7: Church of Santa Maria Dei Miracoli.” (Miracoli is open from 10-4. Paid.)
- Lunch on your own.
- 3 p.m.: Meet at Arsenale with painting supplies. Walk together to Basilica di San Pietro di Castello (8 a.m.-12 p.m., 3 p.m.-6 p.m.) to paint. Walk to Giardini Pubblici together and separate. Make art at the gardens if you want.
- Eat dinner on your own.
Day 9: (tentatively, Tuesday, May 22)
|Today’s Journal Assignment: Reflect upon your impressions of Venice’s future; be thoughtful, not flippant, but be imaginative. Your thoughts may be as pessimistic or optimistic as you like. Write a poem, story, or scene; sketch; collage; or paint your image of the Venice of the future.|
- 10 a.m. Visit Ca’Rezzonica to learn about 18th century Venice (Wed-Mon 10 a.m.-6 p.m.). Finish “Hunt 8: Ca’Rezzonica” from Venetian Hunts & Puzzles. (paid: use Musei ticket)
- Noon: Visit the 16th-century San Sebastiano church to see the Veronese paintings.
- Lunch together at Pane e Vino (paid)
- Free time until 6.
- 6 p.m. Meet behind La Salute. Watercolor architectural details of La Salute, Dogana, or San Giorgio Maggiore in the style of Sargent.
- Eat dinner on your own.
Day 10: (tentatively, Wednesday, May 23)
|Today’s Journal Assignment: Write a journal entry reflecting on the food you’ve been eating over this first week in Italy. Compare and contrast Italian food in the U.S. to that of Venice. How do you like it? What differences strike you about the “food culture” of Italy versus that of the U.S.?|
- Leave on vaporetto to Lido
- Make art on Lido. Come home on your own time. Notice the wonderful view of Venice a la Turner on your way home.
- Free day. Dinner on your own, but remember that we’re getting up early in the morning
Day 11: (tentatively, Thursday, May 24)
|Today’s Journal Assignment: Find and describe — and either take photographs* (these 3=1 for this assignment) or sketch — examples of Venetian gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance architecture. See last page of itinerary for reminder. You must include in your description the location of the architectural example you discovered. Don’t simply repeat the examples we’ve provided; that’s cheating!|
- Enjoy your last day free. Do some final painting. Mail any souvenirs you don’t want to carry.
- Don’t forget to finish “Hunt 9: Where Have You Seen…”
- Regroup for final restaurant dinner together, possibly at Leone Bianca (paid).
- Clean up the palazzo.
- Pack your bags, because we’re leaving Venice tomorrow!
Day 12: (tentatively, Friday, May 25)
|Today’s Journal Assignment: You’re leaving Venice, so now is the time to reflect on what Venice has come to mean to you, personally. This course was called “Imagining Venice” — what has Venice come to symbolize for you, in your imagination? It may be good or bad; be thoughtful and honest. This will form the core of your presentation next fall, so you may end up putting down some preliminary thoughts now and then refining them later as you further reflect and absorb what you’ve learned and experienced on this trip.|
- Take train to Verona (@1.5 hours).
- Grade Hunt 8 and Hunt 9 on train.
- Check into hotel.
- Walk and see Roman and Medieval sites: Forum, Teatro Romana and the Castelvecchio (paid). Make art along the river or sketch from the ramparts within.
- Eat dinner together (paid).
- Visit the Casa di Giulietta on your own, if you like.
Day 13: (tentatively, Saturday, May 26)
|Today’s Journal Assignment: Compare and contrast the castle in Lake Garda to the palazzi of the Venetians. Explain the differences from a historic and geographic point of view.|
- Go to Sirmione by Lake Garda (@1 hour by bus)
- Visit the Scagliar Castle. Sketch and take photos.
- Return to Verona together. Eat dinner on your own. Remember to pack up for an early departure to Florence.
Day 14: (tentatively, Sunday, May 27)
|Today’s Journal Assignment: Describe your reaction to one of the Uffizi’s famous paintings mentioned below in depth. Which is your favorite and why?|
- Train to Florence (paid)
- Settle into Hotel Lombardi & walk around central city
- Tour Piazza del Duomo to see the duomo, campanile, and baptistry. It will cost you €8 to climb to the top of the dome.
- Uffizi Gallery (Paid; reservations.) It’s a big museum, so take your time with it! There’s a cafe on top where you can relax between galleries if you need to rest your feet.
- Find Fra Filippo Lippi’s Madonna and Child with Angels, Botticelli’s Primavera and Birth of Venus, Michelangelo’s Holy Family, Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation, Rafael’s Madonna of the Goldfinch, and Titian’s Venus of Urbino.
Day 15: (tentatively, Monday, May 28)
|Today’s Journal Assignment: Describe your reaction to Michelangelo’s David — was it what you were expecting or not? What visual information do you miss when you look only at a photo in a book? What other famous paintings or sculptures did you see today in the Uffizi, and how did your reaction to them surprise you?|
- Galleria dell’Accademia (8:15 a.m.-6:50 p.m.) to see Michaelangelo’s David. Paid; reservations.
- Lunch together.
- Palazzo Pitti’s Boboli Gardens and Silver Museum. Ticket €20; Paid. (Garden: 8:15 a.m.-6:30 p.m.) Take photos for paintings in the style of Sargent upon our return home
- Eat dinner on your own.
Day 16: (tentatively, Tuesday, May 29)
|Today’s Journal Assignment: You’ve now been in three very different Northern Italian cities. Which did you like best, and why?|
- Meet by Ponte Vecchio over the River Arno. Time TBD
- Visit the Palazzo Vecchio for the Salone dei Cinquecento with art by Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Giorgio Vasari (paid)
- Last lunch in Italy together at Ristorante Boccadama, Piazza Santa Croce (open 11-3pm). Paid.
- Vivoli Gelato is nearby! Visit Basilica Santa Maria della Croce and the leather school around the back if you want.
- Pack up your suitcases! We will be home late in the evening and tired from a long walk!
- Eat dinner on your own.
- 7:30 p.m. Meet at Ponte Vecchio with your painting equipment and walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo for a panoramic view of the city at sunset. Warning: Long walk and many flights of stairs!
- Pack up!
Day 17: (tentatively, Wednesday, May 30)
- Depart Florence, either to return to the States or continue your travels on your own.
IMAGINING VENICE: Post-Travel Phase
Summer Homework: Finish your paintings and any lingering journal work. Prepare your presentation for the Fall 2018 meeting.
Travel/Post-Travel Semiotic Journal/Portfolio: The final journal and art portfolio demonstrates each student’s understanding of semiotics as it applies to Venice as a signifier. The paintings, poems, and stories must all use some aspect of Venice as a symbol of some broader aspect of the human condition.
Developed over the course of the travel phase and finalized thereafter, the journal and portfolio will consist of 12 response essays, plus a minimum of 12 original creative works, to include at least 2 new watercolor paintings; 1 sketch; 1 poem; and 1 work of fiction (short story or complete scene for a script), and 1 to 3 art photographs or short videos. (You may take more photos, of course; but only 3 may count toward the journal.)
Students may choose to turn in a paper journal/portfolio or create a digital journal/portfolio in the form of a blog or website. At least one painting (from a photograph in the Boboli Gardens) must be completed post-trip.
Journal Class Presentation: Students will give a 10- to 15-minute presentation presenting a response to the question what has Venice come to symbolize for you, personally? The presentation should be supported by the student’s creative and documentary work that was completed during the trip and should include some or all of the student’s artwork, photographs, and/or video. The student should read his or her poem aloud, describe his or her short story, and possibly discuss any journal entry that was relevant to the student’s decision regarding Venice’s personal symbolic importance.
Is Venice safe to wander around without a guide?
Venice is very safe during the day and reasonably safe at night, as long as you take the normal precautions: stay in sight of your buddy, avoid getting drunk, and stick to well-lit streets after dark. Pickpocketing is a hazard in any crowded tourist area; keep your valuables in front pockets or a travel belt and keep a close eye on your phone. In Venice it’s easy (and fun!) to get lost, but it’s hard to stay lost; ultimately you’ll hit the lagoon or Grand Canal, after which it isn’t difficult to find your way back to a main campo or bridge and get your bearings.
Any clothing restrictions?
Some churches do not permit visitors with bare shoulders, midriffs, or legs, so please avoid packing a wardrobe full of shorts and tank tops; the famous Basilica di San Marco, in particular, requires shoulders and knees to be covered. Women should keep in mind that exposed cleavage, stomachs, and thighs may attract unwanted attention and crude behavior or comments from some men. Shorts are generally only worn by children, Germans and Americans, so although you can wear them (as long as you’re not visiting a church), you might wish to avoid them and dress in a more suitably European fashion.
You’ll be doing a lot of walking on hard cobblestones. Sneaker-style hiking shoes would be a wise investment. Bring sneakers, at least.
Bring layers for warmth (average May temps run from 55-70 degrees; when we ran this trip in 2011 it hit the 90s!) and bring your umbrellas and raincoats (average rainfall in May is 2.7 inches, but when we ran this trip in 2013 we experienced storms and acqua alta). Note that cobblestone streets are slippery when wet and that acqua alta may flood entire streets.
Is there wi-fi so I can email and blog?
The palazzo we’re renting has wi-fi and Venice has numerous internet cafes where you can pay to use the provided computers or, in some cases, plug in your laptop.
While we’re talking electronics, remember to bring plug adapters for laptops and both plug adapters and voltage adapters for other electronics you may bring, such as your electric razor or blowdryer (unless they run at both 110 and 220). You generally do not need voltage adapters for computers or camera battery rechargers.
Is the water safe to drink?
Yes; you can drink water from the faucet in Venice. Bottled water abounds if you prefer to be cautious, however.
I have food allergies or restrictive eating preferences; will I find anything to eat in Italy?
Italy is a gourmet’s paradise, but it doesn’t always cater to eating restrictions. You’ll have a hard time finding gluten-free pasta, for example, but as long as you can eat regular enriched wheat pasta, going meatless won’t be a problem for you. There are a few vegetarian restaurants in Venice, as well. If you’re allergic to shellfish, you may want to avoid all seafood dishes as a matter of precaution; restaurants might not be scrupulous about preparing shellfish dishes in separate pots and pans. JewishVenice offers advice on finding kosher food.
We intend to rent a palazzo with a kitchen, so you will have the option of shopping and cooking for yourself during much of the trip, although sometimes we’ll be out all day and eating in restaurants. We recommend that for the duration of the trip you relax any voluntary eating restrictions you’ve imposed upon yourself and enjoy the full Italian culinary experience. Be aware that strict religious or medical food restrictions may not always be easy to satisfy on the road.
Please note that although some meals will be provided, you will be asked to pay for your beverages entirely on your own.
I use a wheelchair; will I have problems getting around?
Unfortunately, yes; the streets of Venice are narrow and paved with uneven stones, and they abound with stairs and bridges. There is very little accommodation for wheelchairs in buildings — most are extremely old and have only stairwells — or on mass transit such as trains and boats. Moreover, there are no railings between the streets and the canals if the crowds get pushy, as they sometimes do. This trip will be walking-intensive and is not a good choice for anyone who has a mobility impairment.
Are there ATMs? Are credit cards usually accepted?
Yes to both. It’s always a good idea to check with your bank to find out about international ATM-use or credit-card-use surcharges that may be incurred and to notify them that you’ll be overseas. Most of the main tourist shops and large restaurants will be happy to accept your credit card, but having cash is a good idea for smaller neighborhood shops, grocery stores, vaporetto tickets, and cafes. Consider bringing an ATM card with you and getting your euros at a bank in Venice, rather than exchanging money at LAX. Note that many ATMs in Italy have a 250 euro/day withdrawal limit.
Will there be time to shop?
Of course! We’ll ask that you restrain your consumer impulses during the painting/touring part of the class but, in return, we’ll give you plenty of time to browse around on your own; remember, you’ll be in the city over a week, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to pick up souvenirs.
If you plan to buy a lot, consider setting aside enough money to mail it home from Venice. Shipping internationally from the Venetian post office is a bit of a challenge, so set aside an hour or two to take into account the lines and the paperwork. Also, remember that we’ll be traveling by train for the last few days, and your professors assure you from personal experience that you don’t want to do that while hauling around more than one suitcase and backpack.
What if I want to continue traveling through Italy/Europe after the class is over?
In 2016 you will be expected to make your own airline reservations and meet us in Venice, so it should be easy for you to arrange for personal post-trip travel. You’ll find it very easy to meet up with friends or family in Florence, which has an airport, or to travel from Florence by train to another destination.