Italy: The Allure of Venice

Summer 2013
Venice, Italy
May 24 - June 15, 2013

Program Highlights

  • Experience Venice as a young artist
  • Explore Venice's art, architecture, and ecology
  • Stay on the sandy beach of the Lido
  • See the sites of famous scenes in world literature
  • Visit the Accademia Gallery, the Fenice Theatre, and the glass works of Murano
  • Attend a musical performance at the Ugo and Olga Levi Foundation
  • Meet a contemporary Venetian novelist
  • Travel to nearby Verona, and take an optional group trip to Florence
  • This course has been approved for Intercultural (IC) designation.

Program Description

Venice, Italy.  What makes it so fascinating?  Why do writers like Shakespeare (not to mention Proust, Voltaire, Lord Byron, Henry James, Ruskin, and Goethe!), composers like Richard Wagner, and artists like Titian, all set their work in Venice? 

And why is Venice an important site for modern discussions of urban planning and ecology?  

On this May term, we will not take a whirlwind, three day tour of Venice's highlights.  We will spend three weeks island-hopping, exploring districts and museums, and truly getting to know the unique structure and character of Venice.  We will visit the sites of famous literary scenes (including those in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice), as well as taking ecological tours (on foot and bicycle) such as touring project Moses (the underwater mobile barriers designed to protect the city from flooding). 


The group will reside on the world famous Lido, some 30 meters from the Adriatic coast.  Ferryboats provide nearby and easily accessible transportation.


As we explore Venice, students will write their own creative responses to the city, choosing from poetry, fiction, script writing, creative non-fiction or environmental journalism.  (Pre-trip exercises and readings will help students to prepare.)  Students will also meet with Italian author, Tiziano Scarpa, to discuss his Venice-based novel (which we will read together).   Following the trip, students may incorporate original musical compositions, fine or graphic artwork, interviews or film into their final draft. 

Come take a walking and writing tour of Venice!  On this May term, we will steep ourselves in Venice and discover firsthand how its space can inspire the imagination.

Program Cost

The estimated Program Fee is $2752 plus the cost of 2 CSB/SJU credits at the reduced summer tuition (approximately $525 per credit).

This price includes round-trip international airfare from Minneapolis to Venice; accommodations during the program; local transportation*; admission to museums, cultural attractions, theatres or concerts outlined in the itinerary.  (*Please note that our ferry pass reduces the cost per ticket from app. 8.50 Euros to app. 1.30 Euros.  As such, students will need to plan for some transportation costs.)

Students will be responsible for their meals, moderate transportation costs, personal spending money and any activities not included with the program


Housing and classroom facilities, along with many other support services are provided by the Ugo and Olga Levi Foundation for the Study of Music, located in the heart of Venice on the Grand Canal.  Our group will stay together at the Foundation's guest house on the Venice Lido.  Each apartment is furnished with a kitchen, pots, pans, etc., towels, and bedding.  Nearby markets and restaurants provide students with the option of dining out or cooking for themselves.   Regular buses run up and down the Lido's main street, offering convenient transportation on the island.


The director and instructor for this course is Jessica Harkins of the CSB/SJU English Department.  Dr. Harkins studied literature and philology at the University of Pavia, Italy.  She is fluent in Italian and her scholarship and teaching includes many Italian authors, including Dante and Petrarch, and the women writers of the fifteenth century. She has published several translations of the female, Venetian poet, Gaspara Stampa-and is currently translating Stampa's book of poems. She is also a poet inspired by her time in Venice; her poems about Venice appear in literary journals within the U.S. and the U.K.