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Arrivederci John Carroll, Ciao Italia

February 25th, 2010

While some students will be looking forward to returning home for spring break, some will be heading very far away from home. In this case, “far” means across the Atlantic Ocean. 

Students in Santa Casciani’s Italian humanism and the Renaissance class are traveling to Italy over spring break. They left yesterday from Cleveland for Arezzo, a city in Tuscany, the central part of Italy. 

Casciani’s class studies the representations of women in Italian Humanist art and literature during the early periods of the Renaissance. Humanists began to rediscover the classical periods in Rome and Greece. Required for the class is the trip, which is sponsored by the Bishop Anthony M. Pilla Program in Italian-American Studies, of which Casciani is the director. 

From their base in Arezzo, the 20 students and four chaperones will be traveling to other areas, such as Florence, Pisa, Sienna, Rome and Urbino. Assignments for the students include going to art museums to view paintings and sculpture from Humanist artists. The students have met with Casciani on campus on Monday nights for class, but will also meet four times at the hotel and at the museums they travel to for instruction. 

According to Casciani’s class syllabus, “[Their] visits to the museums will allow students to compare and contrast how also in visual arts female representation was subjugated by the brush of the painter and the chisel of the sculptor.”

Students going on the trip are excited for the experience. 

“I am most excited to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa,” said freshman Alyssa Fuchs. “I want to take a picture of me looking like I am holding up the building.” 

The students will see art from famous artists such as Michelangelo, Piero della Francesca and Raffaello. 

“It’s one thing to read and see pictures of some of your favorite artist’s work, but to actually look at the originals is going to be amazing,” said freshman Jessica Kirby. 

Along with this trip, the department has two other trips planned, according to Casciani, including a summer institute and John Carroll’s program at Vatican City in the fall. 

Luigi Ferri, a visiting assistant professor in Italian who will be accompanying the group to Italy, believes an experience studying abroad is important for all students. 

“Sure, they could study easily from here [in Cleveland], but it is one thing to study books and [look at] pictures, [and another] to have a physical relationship with the things because it is really something different,” he said. 

Casciani agrees and sees another benefit. 

“I get many more phone calls from prospective employers because I think that’s one of the topics that comes up [in my students’ interviews],” she said. 

The students going on the trip feel this will be a good experience because many of them are interested in the subject of the class. 

“I am very interested in many of the Italian artists, so I knew that I would just love this class,” said Kirby. “I expect to get a life-changing experience from this trip. The world is so big and it is so much to experience. Why should I be limited to just the U.S.?”

Casciani believes each student going will have everlasting memories from his or her studies in Tuscany. 

“You can see the change in the students when they return,” she said. “They’re all going to bring something away from the trip.”

For some students,  experiencing the culture is something they expect to remember. 

“If I don’t come back with a bigger stomach, I’d consider this trip an utter failure,” senior Joe McKenna said. 

Staff Writer Brian Bayer contributed to this article.