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European Art History Study Abroad 2011

[In the face of a particularly stressful semester, I had more or less decided to let the blog go, but after fielding queries from several generous readers regarding its status, I’ve decided to recommit myself to the Art History Salon. That said, I’d love to post guest blogs, so please feel free to contact me if you’d like to participate . . . I’d happily adopt the original role of the salonnière, which was to merely facilitate conversations and work to foster communities.]

One of the matters I’ve been consumed with of late is organizing a European art history study abroad program for spring term. Knowing that most of the readers of this blog are current and former students who have participated in such programs, I’m hopeful that I can get suggestions on must-see museums and sites. I want this trip to be a mix of the expected (the Louvre) and the unexpected (Musée Gustave Moreau), and while I definitely have opinions about where to go (Stonehenge at dawn) and what to see (every Caravaggio we can feast our eyes upon), I’d love to hear from you as to your favorite art-related places in Italy, England, and France. Suggestions regarding good restaurants, parks (my kids will be with us for the first part of the trip), shops, and so on are also welcome.

We’ll be in the following places: Rome, Naples, Pompeii, Florence, Siena, Venice, Milan, London, Bath, Salisbury, Paris, Versailles, Chartres (and possibly Chantilly, Fontainebleau, and/or Rouen).

Conversation topic: What are your suggestions as to the not-to-be-missed sites and experiences of Italy, England, and France?


1 Mary Jo Gibson { 03.05.11 at 7:28 pm }

The Soane Museum in London, one of those off-the-beaten-path places, but well worth the visit. Here’s the link:

2 Alicia { 03.05.11 at 7:34 pm }

You should go to the Anne Frank Park in Paris. if you are looking for good parks. It’s strangely very quiet there, in the midst of the bustling city. It was my favorite hideaway while in France. And while in England, be sure to go to the Borough Market in London, and hike those billion steps to San Minatio al Monte in Florence to hear the Benidictine chanting of the Olivetan Monks at 5 pm.

3 Emily Hinchey { 03.05.11 at 9:11 pm }

Be still my beating heart! I wish I could go, but it’s fun to brainstorm, so thanks for the excuse! Here are a few of my random favorites…
Rome: Church of Saint Ignatius of Loyola; Borromini’s San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane; Ecstasy of St. Theresa; view from the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (they had a cool Van Gogh exhibit there in December that may still be up when you go).
Florence: Piazzale Michelangelo to see the city; Gusta Pizza at * Via Maggio 46R; Brunelleschi’s dome (of course!).
Naples: Never been but I hear Da Michele has the best pizza! http://www.damichele.net/
Venice: Gelateria at Campo Santa Margherita has the best-priced gelato we ever found if you’re in the neighborhood– It’s kitty-corner from the Istituto Venezia (Campo Santa Margherita 3116/a Dorsoduro 30123 Venice); Ca Rezzonico; Palazzo Mocenigo (costume museum); Goldoni’s house; just wandering down the little streets, particularly at night; visiting little island of Burano.
Paris: Sainte-Chapelle; Shakespeare & Company book store; Pere-Lachaise Cemetery; Musee Marmottan and nearby park (I think it’s Jardin du Ranelagh).
London: Harrod’s; V&A; Imperial War Museum; Kensington Gardens.
Have fun! I hope you blog about it. :)

4 Melissa { 03.06.11 at 9:19 pm }

I have never participated in such a programme, though it is offered at the university I attend. As a student who is madly in love with all things Baroque, my trip would consist of touristy spots such as the Vatican and its museum. However, as a student and lover of all things art, I am not particularly keen on viewing these works alongside tourists who are just doing the touristy thing. That being said I think you should include all things Bernini, Caravaggio and Borromini. I think it would be interesting to see Bernini and Borromini works side by side like the Piazza Navona which, if I am not mistaken, includes Bernini’s Four Rivers Fountain and a church facade by Borromini. My favourite work by Bernini is Saint Jerome and I think it would be awful to leave Rome without seeing it.
Hope you have fun planning and that you post pictures!!

5 Marc { 03.07.11 at 8:19 am }

I’ll be watching this comments section as I’m planning a trip to some of those cities in May and June. My London recommendations are the National Gallery, the V&A’s new Medieval and Renaissance galleries and (a short distance from each other) the Courtauld Gallery in Somerset House and the Soane Museum. In Bath there’s an easily missed Museum of East Asian Art on a side street off the Circus: http://www.meaa.org.uk/

My top recommendation for Rome is the Galleria Borghese: Caravaggio and Bernini central. La Sapienza, with its Borromini church, is holding a Caravaggio exhibition until May 15: http://tinyurl.com/63brvqc. Centrale Montemartini sounds intriguing (classical sculpture in a converted power station with the machinery kept in situ), and I’ll be seeking out Rome’s two major contemporary buildings, Richard Meier’s building for the Ara Pacis Augustae and Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI.

6 Rebekah { 03.07.11 at 1:36 pm }

When we went to Venice, we had nothing but a guide book, and a suggestion to visit the outer islands. After exploring Venice the first day, we bought a water taxi ticket and made our way to Murano, Burano, and Torcello. It turned out to be one of the most peaceful days of my entire life. Murano was still a little tourist beaten. But the glass blowing was amazing. Burano was quiet and flooded after the early morning rain. But the houses were colorful and bright. We got some amazing pictures. Torcello was spectacular. The church was completely empty there, so we got to quietly experience the Byzantium style church in all its golden glory.

7 M { 03.07.11 at 7:16 pm }

I echo what Marc said. If you’ve mentioned Caravaggio, then I’m sure you’re already planning on a visit to the Borghese Gallery. (That being said, did you know that a Caravaggio exhibit is coming to the US this Fall? It’s a huge deal: a Caravaggio exhibit hasn’t been in the US since the 1980s. Perhaps you should be taking your students to Fort Worth, Texas as well!)

Some other places that I loved in Europe: the Rodin Museum (Paris), Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam), and Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam). Although Martha didn’t take our whole group to Amsterdam, some students and I took a weekend trip over there. That short trip was definitely was one of the highlights of my study abroad.

I’m already jealous of the great experiences that your students will have. If you want to have any tagalong art historians, let me know! :)

8 Megan { 03.08.11 at 3:43 am }

The Scrovegni Chapel in Padua. Padua itself is pretty sleepy, but the Giottos were easily the highlight of Northern Italy for me. Maybe the art highlight of my life? (I’m pleasantly surprised at myself that I don’t think that statement is hyperbolic for effect, I’m pretty sure I mean it…)

9 Emily { 03.10.11 at 7:44 pm }

In Venice, don’t miss the Peggy Guggenheim museum.

Professor Johnson told us, and I think we all agreed, that the best pizza in Rome was at Pizza Re, and the best gelato at Giolittis.

In France I really enjoyed the afternoon I spent at the Fontainebleau palace.

10 Rachel { 03.11.11 at 12:56 pm }

I loved Holland Park. It is so much quieter and less touristy than Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens.

I had a really excellent time at the Tate Liverpool. They had a Picasso Exhibit while I was there, and it was incredible. I was also surprised when I found the Ashmolean. We didn’t have very much time in Oxford, but the 20 minutes I spent wandering the galleries was spectacular.

I could go on and on about food in London. I think I already told you about Books for Cooks, but it is seriously amazing. The best Indian I had while I was there was from a place in White Chapel called Tayyabs. There is really good, cheap wood fired pizza from Franco Manca. (Ten times better than anything you will get from Pizza Express.) On a hotter day in London, cold udon noodles are really satisfying. They have really good ones at Koya in SoHo.

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