The week started with everyone packing up the house for the last time. A bittersweetfeeling knowing we only have this week left. We then piled into the car and drove theshort distance of only an hour and a half to Nice, France.
Our hostel was a cute, tucked away building with orange trees hanging above the entrance. We took a few oranges for ourselves. We headed out and began to explore Nice. We wandered through the tight, narrow, cobblestone streets. We gazed up admiring the beautiful old architecture, a trademark of Nice. We slowly made over way to the boardwalk. The sun shining high in the sky radiated the spring time warmth. However, everyone around us had their puffer coats on while we were dressed in tee shirts, shorts and dresses. 60 degrees and sunny with a light breeze is beautiful to us New Englanders but still cold for the French!
We then started to climb the Colline du Château, the highest point in Nice. After what seemed like a million never-ending stairs, the view revealed itself. The trek was worth it. The balcony overlooked downtown, the airport and the beach with the mountains in the distance.
The breeze made a calming noise along with a waterfall dangling below the balcony. The views were breathtaking.
The waterfall sparkled against the setting sun, the dripping water was relaxing.
Nice has a spectacular harbor. We drooled over the enormous yachts. As the sun set we took a moment to reflect upon the Nice terror attack that took place here last summer. It's hard to picture something so terrible happening here.
Even though we only had a half day in Nice, the visit was extremely successful, beautiful and a great way to begin our final week.
The next morning we took two trains to get to our final destination of Florence, Italy.
These train rides have to be the most beautiful rides in the world. The tracks hug the coast line. The entire ride you have spectacular views of the Mediterranean. I was transfixed in a day dream, it made the six hours of travel go by quickly.
Our Youth Hostel, a converted villa.
When we arrived in Florence, we checked into our hostel and then set out to explore the city. We walked down the streets to the Florence Baptistery.
I researched this for my project. It was spectacular to see it in person. Behind this was the grand Duomo.
This cathedral was enormous and eloquently designed. The exterior of the building is covered in a decorative mix of pink, white and green marble. It was incredible and so grand. It was a great way to start our trip to Italy.
The next day we went to see the statue of "David". We had to wait in line for close to two hours, but we made the best of it by playing trivia games and making friends with people in line. We finally got in to see the David. It wasn't too crowded like most other museums. It was magnificent and grand to see. It's incredible to think that someone made this by hand so long ago. It was truly awe inspiring. Florence is the leather capital of the world. Everywhere we went there was leather. Leather shoes, clothes, bags, and gloves. We were exposed to this charming small authentic leather market. There was so much leather, it smelled fantastic. Everyone in the group bought at least one item. I can proudly say I bought many things and will forever cherish my handmade Italian leather!
The only place in Florence where there isn't leather is on the Ponte Vecchio. This famous bridge houses all the expensive jewelry shops. It's mind blowing to think that this bridge has been around since the 1100's and now we're walking across it.
The next day we ventured on an hour bus ride to the beautiful town of Siena. We arrived and met up with Dave's friend’s daughter, Darby. She's studying abroad here. It was very nice to meet her and pick her brain about college life. We enjoyed a lovely lunch with her over looking the Duomo.
The Siena Duomo sits atop a hill with houses stretching down the hill. It was beautiful with the vibrant blue background against it. After lunch we bid our farewells to Darby and continued up and down the narrow streets until we reached the Duomo.
Inside the Duomo was magnificent! There were these beautiful tile floors that depicted scenes of the Old Testament. The arched ceilings had magnificent paintings atop them. It was beautiful beyond words. This was a beautiful and an excellent way to learn scenes from the Bible. The next day we ventured into the Uffizi Museum.
We did the famous "Dave tour" for the last time. The tour is lead by Dave, obviously. He gives us all the information and background of the pieces. He skips pieces that have less importance, at least in his opinion. However, at the end he provides us with free time so that we can go explore things that we might personally like. Overall the museum was very interesting, it was a bit smaller than others that we have visited, but it is definitely a favorite.
The statues and sculptures were my personal favorite. The food in Italy has been amazing!! French food is also fantastic but Italy definitely loves their carbs. Each place we visit is uniquely different and definitely different from the USA. Italy holds a special place for food for the group.
Everything, especially the pasta, was so fresh! There are endless amounts of pasta and carbs in general in Italy. The group started to feel the carb overload but hey when in Italy you must have pizza and pasta in every meal. The restaurants have all been awesome as well. One day we just popped into this cute restaurant, no reservation. It was a family owned restaurant. There were just all women working, soft music playing and a cozy environment. The waitress was so nice and very patient with us non-Italian speakers. We have found that Europeans, almost all of the time, have been so kind and generous with us. This has been a general theme not only in Italy but throughout our travels. We have been so fortunate and very lucky. On our last night in Florence we all had dinner together. We ate at a charming little restaurant. We were the only people there and it had a very artistic feel with different paintings hanging on the walls. It's sad it think this was one of our last meals together. We have had such an amazing time and truly become like family. It will be difficult and weird to go home and be separated from these seven other amazing people. I feel that this trip has bonded us for life.
(At the front door of the house of Michelangelo)
We will always cherish our memories and look back fondly on our time together. Our time in Italy was a bittersweet conclusion of our experience. As the term comes to a close we each wrote our personal reflection of the term.
For me, European Art Classroom has been one of the most challenging, wonderful, inspiring experiences of my life. I've learned so much and I've been exposed to so many different cultures and places. I have loved both traveling and staying home in Aix. I believe this program is the best of both worlds with a home base and week long trips. I will remember this experience for the rest of my life. - Hannah
This term of European Art Classroom was a good one. I was able to experience Europe on a much more intimate level as well as spend hours of time on my art. I was able to work on my French while also learning new ways to paint. I also was able to eat delicious food throughout the entire trip. - Cole
It’s always hard to say goodbye to something that you love or to let go of a time and place that you will never get back. But in this moment, I find it one of the hardest times to accept that it’s my last night here and I wont be living in this house under the Tête ever again. The two months went by way too fast; I would be ecstatic if I missed my flight and had to stay here for another week or two. I’ve learned how to draw a teapot with charcoal, to paint a hummingbird in flight, and how to capture what is in front of me with a pen on paper. These are skills that may not seem incredibly useful, but I think it is one of the coolest and most satisfying feelings to create artwork of my own. I’ve always enjoyed looking at art but I never quite understood what it takes to create something of good quality and substance. Now that I’ve slaved over paintings for hours and dented fingers by gripping my pen too hard, it makes perfect sense to me. This is a big lesson that I’ve learned, even bigger than Dave’s presentation of the entire history of western art. Now, I have to force myself to part with the great toast butter and warm baguettes of France, the Flamenco dancers of Spain, and the spaghetti of Italy; however, I know that I will be back; for I already miss this all too much. - Harry
Throughout my time on European Art Classroom I have learned many different things including ways to enhance my art technique, make my way through the language barrier and so much more. I waited for what seems like a long time to experience this, and now that European Art Classroom is over I can’t thank my parents and my teachers enough for sending me on this life changing experience. I wish everyone could experience this program as it has taught me so much that I will take away with me. To the next EAC group, don’t take the time you have here for granted because it’ll be over in the blink of an eye. This was truly an amazing experience, and I can’t wait to see what is in store for me next. - Nikki
One of the most refreshing things that I have done this term and in my life is to go off on my own in a big city. It is a sense of complete freedom and spontaneity, one where a building which catches my eye can turn into one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. This winter has been filled with these experiences, where the “plan” has been to not necessarily have a plan at all, and to follow the course of inexplicable urges and Dave’s almost superhuman ability to find hidden beauty in the most normal of things. We have brought an idea of fluidity with us even when we are all together as a group, and some of our most memorable times have spawned from impulses. I will return to Proctor in the Spring as a person who is ready for any challenge which might present itself, and a person who is ready to live life on the fly. Here’s to the greatest two months I can imagine, a time which seemed an instant but will remain a lifetime. - Jay
At first, I was worried about being away from home and about being able to do art well or if I would enjoy it. Then, I realized that this is amazing! I found my love for exploring, seeing the beautiful mountains of Provence and meeting and hearing stories from so many nice people everywhere we went. I love getting to learn about art and seeing the world through colors, shapes and emotions. I am very thankful for being able to go on European Art Classroom and learn about the world and myself. I am super excited for all of the things I could do and places I could go in the future! - Jacqui
From the dizzy rush of running down the stairs of the empty Arc de Triomphe on a clear Paris night, to painting in the field where Van Gogh painted Starry Night, the moments I have experienced are ones that I will cherish forever. Although the thought of leaving this adventure tomorrow is bittersweet, I am beyond grateful to have had this experience. I am so thankful to have been able to live, work and adventure with these 9 wonderful people. I have learned endless lessons, techniques, and things about myself that I never thought I would. Thank you to everyone who made this possible! - Addie