Our term here in Venice is starting to come to an end, which also means that things are getting busy with essay due dates and exams coming up in short order. A week and a half ago I held an on-site presentation at the 14th century Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, where I talked about the architecture of the church and the Colleoni equestrian monument in the square right outside (which incidentally was one of the first monumental bronze equestrian monuments to be cast since ancient times!). The story of Colleoni’s coat of arms is an interesting one – I’ll leave it up to you to look it up yourselves, as I’m not sure how appropriate the content is for this blog…
The third-year students have a 5000-word essay due in a week and a half, so I can safely say we are spending excessive amounts of time writing in the beautiful old libraries here. In addition to the motivating places for studying, I also find it very inspiring to write about the architecture here – I’m living right in the middle of everything I’m writing about, and beautiful buildings surround me everywhere I go.
Outside of the time spent at the libraries, my roommate and I also found time to celebrate the Venetian holiday of the Festa della Santa Maria della Salute, where they celebrate the end of the devastating plague of 1630 every November 21st. In the morning, there is a procession from San Marco to the votive church of Santa Maria della Salute, where part of it crosses a temporary bridge built solely for the procession. After the procession and the following sermon, parents buy their children balloons and if you’re feeling particularly gluttonous, you can indulge in the great array of deep-fried foods sold at stalls in the area.
Another aspect of typical Venetian life we experienced this week was exceptionally high acqua alta, which made getting home from class and grocery shopping a bit of a challenge, with water halfway up my shins! I’m sure it’s an annoyance for people that are used to it, but my roommate and I had a blast splashing around in our rain boots.
The Dean of FASS, John Osborne, stopped by Venice en route to some conferences in Rome and was generous enough to take all five of us Carleton students out to lunch today, which was one of the best meals I’ve had here so far. It was a lovely gesture and we were able to compare some of our experiences, as he also spent time here as a Carleton student when he did his undergrad. He was also the one who set up this special exchange with Warwick, so it was a fitting moment to thank him graciously for coordinating it.
This will be my last blog post here – a sad reminder of how close my time in Venice is coming to an end – and I really hope I’ve been able to give you some sense of what a semester here entails. My semester abroad has been a great learning experience, I’ve eaten more pasta than I ever could have imagined, made lots of new friends, and feel more motivated than ever to continue with my studies. So if you get the chance, I can only say – GO!