Columbia Summer in Venice

Language of Instruction: English, Italian
Term: Summer

Immerse yourself academically and culturally on Italy’s most enchanting medieval island.

Immerse yourself in the culture, history and language of La Serenissima on a six-week summer program based at Ca' Foscari University in Venice. Choose from a menu of courses in Italian language, culture, literature/film, art history and conservation, and music. Experience the rich contemporary and historical culture of Venice, while also making rapid progress towards your academic goals.

Program Overview

Students learn about the art, literature, culture, and society of Venice and the Veneto region while also having the option to study and practice Italian. The program is not geared toward any particular major, and students with no Italian language or art history background are eligible to apply. Ca’Foscari University students also enroll in some of the courses allowing for varied perspectives and richer discussions both inside and outside of the classroom.

  • The program offers many different courses from which to choose, with total point options ranging from 6-10 points for the summer
  • All students are required to enroll in at least 2 courses

Course combinations will provide opportunities to deepen the appreciation of Venetian visual culture, to rapidly improve Italian language skills, or to learn more about Italian culture through music, film and literature.

Eligibility and Application

  • Currently enrolled undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students in good academic and disciplinary standing

  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA

  • Minimum 3.0 average language GPA for courses taught in Italian

  • Students must meet prerequisites for individual courses

How to Apply

Want to apply? Click the “Apply Now” button above. If the button doesn't appear above, the program is not yet accepting applications. You will be asked to set up a short profile, which will allow us to send you relevant information about your application. Once you’ve created a profile, you will see a checklist of items that you will need to submit. These generally include:

  • Application questionnaire(s)
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • Official transcript(s)
  • Home school approval/clearance

I never expected to fall in love with Venice the way that I did, and I am already trying to find a way to go back.

-Hannah Loughlin, CC'20


Note: The University reserves the right to withdraw or modify the courses of instruction or to change the instructors as may become necessary.

The Italian Culture courses listed below are for Summer 2017.

Participants choose their courses according to personal aspirations and interests as well as the course schedule. All students must enroll in a minimum of 2 courses.

Please note that the course offerings and schedule are still subject to change. Attendance at all class meetings, concerts, and excursions, unless otherwise indicated, is mandatory.

Language Courses

Italian [In Venice] O1121. Intensive Elementary Italian. 6 points

Prerequisites: None


The equivalent of Italian 1101/1102 at Columbia. This intensive first year course, open to students with no previous training in Italian, prepares students to move into intermediate Italian.

The course provides students with a foundation in the four language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students are encouraged to participate actively in class discussions and activities and to interact with teacher and classmates. We will learn Italian not only thanks to exercises and conversation, but also through songs, clips, pictures, food, and games. Upon successful completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • provide basic information in Italian about themselves, their interests, their daily activities;

  • participate in a conversation on everyday topics using the major time frames of present and past;

  • read short edited texts, understand the main ideas, and pick out important information from authentic texts (e.g. menus, signs, train schedules, etc.)

  • write short compositions on familiar topics;

  • identify basic cultural rituals and practices in the context of their occurrence.

Italian [In Venice] O1203. Intensive Intermediate Italian. 6 points

Prerequisites: One year of college-level Italian or the equivalent.


The equivalent of Italian 1201/1202. This intensive second year course allows students to develop listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in Italian and a better understanding of Italian culture.

Students are involved in activities outside the classroom, where they gather information on Italian cultural topics through interviews and surveys that allow them to engage directly with the local community. Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

  • use a sufficient range of language to be able to give clear description;

  • express viewpoints on most general topics;

  • show a relatively high degree of grammatical control;

  • use cohesive devices to link their utterances into clear and coherent discourse;

  • give detailed descriptions and presentations on a wide range of subjects related to their fields of interest, expanding and supporting their ideas;

  • write clear and detailed text on a variety of subjects related to their field of interest, synthesizing and evaluating information and arguments;

  • understand straightforward factual information about common everyday life;

  • interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes for regular interaction;

  • express news and views effectively in writing, and relate to those of others;

  • express themselves appropriately in different cultural and communicative situations;

  • and be aware of the most significant differences between the customs, usages, attitudes, values, and beliefs prevalent in the Italian culture and those of their own.

Italian Culture Courses (Summer 2017)

Italian O4490. Venice and Modernity: Screening La Serenissima. 3 points.

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Elizabeth Leake

This course will examine representations of Venice in film and literature in order to identify the forms of aesthetic modernism that emerge and become operative from within the specifically Venetian context. How do these modernist narrations engage with their location—imagined or otherwise--in Venice and its environs? Is there such a thing as Venetian regional modernism, and what are its parameters? What are their relations to modernism’s broader national iteration? To answer these questions, we will read texts by Boito, Mann, Dostoevsky, Calvino, and Marinetti. Our Friday morning sessions will be devoted to screening films by Fellini (Casanova), Visconti (Senso, White Nights, and Death in Venice), and Soldini (Bread and Tulips). We will visit some of the sites where they were filmed as time permits.

Counts toward the Italian Major/Concentration at Columbia.

INSM O3920. Nobility & Civility: East and West, 3 points.

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Jo Ann Cavallo

This interdisciplinary colloquium focuses on the examination and comparison of different cultural understandings of the concepts of nobility and civility as they appear throughout the ancient, medieval and early modern world. Our project involves the analysis of important philosophical, religious and literary texts from the East Asian, Indian, Islamic and Western traditions. A fundamental aim of this course will be the formulation of an intercultural perspective from which the core human concerns of nobility and civility, which these various traditions share, can be more coherently articulated. More generally, this course seeks to provide a model for integrated undergraduate education focusing on common human values and universal perennial issues while also recognizing cultural and historical differences.

Course counts as a Global Core requirement for Columbia students.

Art History O4430. Art in Venice. 3 points.

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Caroline Wamsler

This course examines the art, architecture, and culture of Venice from the 14th to the 18th century. The goal of the curriculum is for students to acquire a firm visual literacy in order to read works of Venetian art and to familiarize themselves with the methods of art history. The course is set up as a field study, using the city as classroom and supporting site visits in and outside of Venice. The goal is to provide students with a solid visual knowledge and historical understanding of a set of key monuments, and to encourage them to think through the social, political, cultural, and intellectual forces at play in the creation of these works. Each day's choice of monuments is based on a walkable itinerary, visiting churches, confraternities, cloisters, palaces, and museums. Day trips include excursions to Padua and the Palladian villas in Vicenza and the Veneto.

Counts toward the Art History Major/Concentration at Columbia.

Art History O3310. Portraiture in Renaissance Venice, 3 points.

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Diane Bodart

From Bellini to Tintoretto, Venetian artists elaborated individual portraits that were to be an influential model in Renaissance art, while poets, from Bembo to Aretino, celebrated in their verses the perfect illusion of presence and life performed by these works. Nonetheless, the representation of the self in Venice was challenged by the corporative structure of the society and its political institutions: the image of the individual was often to integrate group portraits, while the Venetian woman was generally depicted as an ideal beauty. Through a cross-analysis of sources and works, the course will investigate this tension between the fashioning of the self and the construction of the social and political identity of Venice in the frame of its cosmopolitan world. The classes will be held in situ in order to train the students to analyze original works in their context.

Counts toward the Art History Major/Concentration at Columbia.

Art History O4432. Introduction to the Conservation of Venice's Built Heritage, 4 points.

Venice_Summer 2017_Conservation_Mortar Mixing

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Mieke Van Molle

The course aims at providing participants with an understanding of the built heritage of Venice, its historical development, construction techniques and building materials and at gaining insight in the related conservation problems. Students are first introduced to the particular conservation problems of the city of Venice and its Lagoon environment. The course then addresses the historical growth and architectural development of Venice, its specific construction techniques and its great variety of stone materials, originating from all over the Mediterranean. It subsequently focuses on the conservation process, including the diagnostic survey, the different decay mechanisms and finally offering an overview of the conservation treatment. The course includes a series of guided walking tours and diversified site visits which will illustrate and complement class lectures.

Counts as a seminar for the Art History Major/Concentration at Columbia.

Art History O3431. Contemporary Art at the Biennale, 3 Points.

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Alexander Alberro

This course introduces the relationship between contemporary artistic practices and the 2017 Venice Biennale. The Biennale has become one of the most important international contemporary art fairs. This course will expose students to the historical, political, and cultural developments linked to the biennale from its inception in 1895 to present day. In addition to regular class meetings with slide lectures and seminar-style discussion in the classroom, students will visit exhibition spaces located in the historical pavilions of the giardini (fair gardens), the arsenale (a 16th century warehouse space now used to host sections of this contemporary art installations), and other temporary venues located throughout the city as we investigate not only the art, but also the unique spaces in which we encounter it. Beyond a focus on the history of the Venice Biennale, the course will introduce some of the key concepts of contemporary art as they have developed in the past three or so decades.

Counts toward the Art History Major/Concentration at Columbia.

Music O3184. Venice and Its Musical Identity. 3 Points.

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Giuseppe Gerbino

Throughout its history, Venice cultivated an idealized image of its political and civic identity. Music played a central role in the construction of the myth of the “Most Serene Republic” both through the prestige of the Venetian music establishment and as a symbol of social harmony and cohesion. This course explores the history of this unique bond between Venice and its musical self-fashioning as well as the construction of a nostalgic image of Venice’s past musical splendor in nineteenth and twentieth-century music.

Counts towards the Music major/concentration at Columbia.

Grades and Transcripts

All courses taken on the program are converted to an American grading scale and transmitted to students as follows:

Columbia students: Grades appear on SSOL and your transcript any semester grades from courses taken at Columbia. For more information, please see the section on Academic Credit in Steps to Study Abroad.

Barnard students: Grades appear on eBear and your transcript as any semester grades from courses taken at Barnard. For more information, please see the section on Credit and Transcripts for Barnard Students on our Barnard student pages.

Life in Venice


Students live in program housing. They share furnished apartments which are located throughout the main island of Venice in various neighborhoods from Canareggio to Castello. They also have the opportunity to visit each other and thus, explore different neighborhoods and gain a sense of how the city fabric works.


Students are responsible for their own meals. Venice has many restaurants, bars, cafes, and pasticceries and students have the opportunity to shop at the local markets and frequent the bars and restaurants in their neighborhood on a regular basis.

Ca' Foscari also has two student cafeterias which offer low-cost meals. They are located about 10 minutes from the classrooms. The hours are limited.


To complement the academic experience, activities designed to introduce students to the local culture are planned. Past activities have included an introduction to Venetian rowing, introduction to wine cultivation and production and a wine tasting, a visit with Save Venice (a local conservation group), biking around the Lido, weekly group dinners, Italian conversation gatherings, museum tours, and sestieri tours.

Field Trips

Regular field trips around the Veneto are scheduled as part of the academic program for the art history course and some trips and activities are incorporated into the Italian literature and culture course. Excursions have included an exploration of various Palladian villas, a day in Padova, and a trip to Verona.


This program has a very full schedule and students should expect to devote most of their time in Venice to the program and complementary activities. Classes are during the weekdays and so students are able to travel on the weekends if they choose to do so.


Venice, in Italian Venezia, is considered by many the most beautiful city in the world. Founded over 1500 years ago, the Venetian Republic rose to become the main European center of trade between the East and West. At the height of its power, it controlled an empire that extended north to the Dolomites and south as far as Cyprus. This is where Marco Polo set off for his historic voyage to Italy.

It is in a unique position, built on an archipelago of islets or shoals, a few kilometers from the mainland, in a lagoon protected from the open sea by the natural island of the Lido. The city is comprised of over 117 small islands, 150 canals, and more than 400 bridges. The buildings of Venice are either on natural islands or on piles of pine driven down about 7.5 meters beneath the water to a solid bed of compressed sand and clay. There are no cars; waterbuses, gondolas, and boats provide the only means of transport along a system, the main thoroughfare being the Grand Canal, lined with splendid palaces. Venice's urban fabric has not changed since the late eighteenth century, giving it a remarkably peaceful and enchanting atmosphere. One of the best ways to explore the city is to walk. It only takes one hour to get from east to west, enjoying the main attractions and discovering unique remnants of Venice's grand past in almost every corner.

Host Institution

Established in 1868, University Ca' Foscari of Venice is one of the most prestigious universities in Italy. It includes four schools (called Facoltà) in Economics and Business, Humanities, Sciences, and Foreign Languages and Literature which is divided in Western and Oriental studies. Ca' Foscari University has 20,000 students and it offers 30 bachelor's degrees and 53 masters degrees.

The University is located in historical buildings throughout the city of Venice which is the home of many cultural and prominent institutions such as the Biennale of Arts, the Fondazione Cini, the University of Architecture, and many others. All of them share programs and activities with Ca' Foscari University.



Alexander Alberro (Instructor for Contemporary Art at the Biennale) is the Virginia Bloedel Wright Professor of Art History and Department Chair at Barnard College. His courses and graduate advising is in the area of modern and contemporary European, U.S., and Latin American art, as well as in the history of photography. Professor Alberro is a recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the George A. and Eliza Howard Foundation, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, and has taught at the University of Florida and the University of California at Berkeley. He is presently at work on a volume that explores the new forms of art and spectatorship that have crystallized in the past two decades. Prof. Alberro has been a featured speaker at many universities and cultural institutions throughout the world, and has appeared in several documentary films on contemporary art.

Diane Bodart (Instructor for Portraiture in Renaissance Venice) was educated in Art History at the University "La Sapienza" in Rome and at the "École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales" in Paris. The recipient of fellowships from the Académie de France (Villa Médicis) in Rome, the Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte in Paris, and the Harvard University Center for Renaissance Studies (Villa I Tatti) in Florence, she was teaching at the University of Poitiers before coming to Columbia. Her research focuses on Renaissance and early modern art in Italy and in the Spanish Hapsburg Empire, with special attention to the relation between art and politics and between image theory and practice. Among other topics, her recent publications have concerned portraiture, public monument and urban space, reflection in Renaissance painting, and laughter in Renaissance art. Her book Pouvoirs du portrait sous les Habsbourg d'Espagne (Paris, 2011) received an award from the Académie Française.

Jo Ann Cavallo (Instructor for Nobility & Civility: East and West) is Professor of Italian and Italian Department Chair at Columbia University, where she has taught since 1988. Her latest book, The World beyond Europe in the Romance Epics of Boiardo and Ariosto (2013), was awarded the Modern Language Association’s Scaglione Publication Award for a Manuscript in Italian Literary Studies. She is also the author of Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato: An Ethics of Desire (1993), The Romance Epics of Boiardo, Ariosto, and Tasso: From Public Duty to Private Pleasure (2004), and co-editor of Fortune and Romance: Boiardo in America (1998). Her articles have focused on Italian authors from the medieval to the modern period, cross-cultural encounters in the Mediterranean, and folk traditions that dramatize epic narratives (Sicilian puppet theater and the epic Maggio of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines). Her current project is a co-edited volume of essays entitled “Speaking Truth to Power in Medieval and Early Modern Italy” (special issue of Annali d’italianistica, 2016).

Massimiliano Delfino (Instructor for Intensive Elementary Italian) is a PhD student at Columbia University, and holds an MA in Italian Studies from UNC-Chapel Hill and a bachelor’s degree in Comparative Literature from La Sapienza University in Rome. His research interests include Italian political cinema, avant-garde cinematic and literary experiments of the 20th century, representations of violence in visual media, and intersections between literature and cinema. He has taught both Elementary and Accelerated Italian 1 and 2 at UNC Chapel Hill, and currently teaches Intermediate Italian at Columbia University. He was awarded in 2013 with the Student Undergraduate Teaching and Staff Award for Teaching Excellence, and is Microteaching Facilitator for Columbia's Center for Teaching and Learning.

Giuseppe Gerbino (Instructor for Venice and Its Musical Identity) is a Professor of Music, Historical Musicology at Columbia. He joined the Columbia faculty in 2001. His research interests include the Italian madrigal, the relationship between music and language in the early modern period, early opera, and Renaissance theories of cognition and sense perception. He is the author of Canoni ad Enigmi: Pier Francesco Valentini e l'artificio canonico nella prima metà del Seicento (Rome, 1995), and Music and the Myth of Arcadia in Renaissance Italy (Cambridge, 2009), which won the 2010 Lewis Lockwood Award of the American Musicological Society. His publications have appeared in the Journal of Musicology, the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, The Musical Quarterly, Studi Musicali, and Il Saggiatore Musicale. He has received grants and fellowships from the American Musicological Society, the Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies (Villa I Tatti), the Renaissance Society of America, the Mellon Foundation (Newberry Library), the American Philosophical Society, and the Italian National Research Center (CNR).

Elizabeth Leake (Instructor for Venice and Modernity: Screening La Serenissima) is a professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Italian Department at Columbia. Her research interests include Twentieth Century narrative and theatre, psychoanalytic, ideological, and disability studies in Italian literature, fascist Italy, Italian cinema, and early Danish cinema. She is a recipient of the Modern Language Association Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Publication Award for a Manuscript in Italian Literary Studies for her book The Reinvention of Ignazio Silone (2003) and The National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for College Teachers and Independent Scholars 2001. Her latest book, After Words: Suicide and Authorship in Twentieth Century Italy, was published in February 2011. Her current research project is a comparative study of representations of cognitive disability among American, Danish, and Italian poets; she is also co-authoring a book on Italian confino.

Matteo Pace (Instructor for Intensive Intermediate Italian) is a PhD student in Italian and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, and a former graduate in Lettere from Sapienza-Università di Roma. His research focuses on an analysis of the medical lexicon and imagery in Medieval vernacular literatures, and the philosophical implications of the concepts of love and nature. He is currently working on his dissertation on the intersections between Medieval medicine, science, and philosophy, and the Italian literature of the XIII and XIV centuries, while contributing to the Dante Digital Project at Columbia University, and teaching Italian language and literature.

Mieke Van Molle (Instructor for Introduction to the Conservation of Venice's Built Heritage) performs varied research and consultancy activities in the field of stone conservation and cultural heritage including several related publications. She holds a MA degree in Archaeology and History of Art from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, and specialized in conservation at ICCROM, the Istituto Centrale del Restauro, Rome and the Institut Royal du Patrimoine Artistique, Belgium.

She has worked as freelance conservator in Italy, Belgium and France, mainly in stone, stuccoes and mural paintings conservation. She collaborated with ICCROM from 1991 to 2009 for the development and implementation of international training programs on stone and mural paintings conservation, coordinating the last five ICCROM-UNESCO Venice International Stone Conservation Courses (1997-2009). Additionally, she taught stone conservation at the Università Internazionale dell’Arte, Venice from 2001-2004.

From 2005 to 2008 she was Head of the Permanent Office of the Association of International Private Committees for the Safeguarding of Venice, which included the coordination of conservation, research and cultural promotion projects financed by the Private Committees in the framework of the UNESCO-Private Committees Program for the Safeguarding of Venice, in close cooperation with the Superintendencies for the Care of Cultural Property.

Caroline Wamsler (Instructor for Art in Venice) is an instructor in the Art and Archeology Department at Columbia University. A specialist on fourteenth-century Venice she received her PhD in art history from Columbia University, where her dissertation focused on the trecento-painting program in the Palazzo Ducale in Venice. Beyond her interest in the municipal imagery in Renaissance Italy, she has worked on the Venetian city garden and public/private spaces in the urban fabric of Venice. In addition to Columbia she has been a Visiting Professor at Wesleyan University, Bard College and Vassar College offering courses focused on the medieval through the baroque period in Europe. She also serves on the board of Trustees of The New York Botanical Garden and Millbrook School.


Irene Bulla (Program Coordinator) is a PhD candidate in the Department of Italian at Columbia University. She taught an Italian language course on the program in the summer of 2015.

Sophia D'Addio (Program Coordinator) is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History & Archaeology at Columbia University, specializing in Italian Renaissance painting with Prof. Michael Cole. Her research has been supported by a Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation Grant and a Mellon International Travel Fellowship. She spent a semester abroad in Venice during her undergraduate degree, and has returned to Italy every year since. In addition to her graduate studies in art history, Sophia has earned advanced degrees in Italian and music performance; she still enjoys playing the violin and viola in her spare time, performing in churches in Venice and Florence. Sophia is fluent in Italian and has eight years of experience working with summer study abroad programs in Italy; this will be her fourth year with the Columbia program, for which she has worked in both administrative and instructional capacities.

Caroline Wamsler (Program Director) has been the Venice Summer Program Director since 2016. She is an instructor in the Art and Archeology Department at Columbia University. A specialist on fourteenth-century Venice she received her PhD in art history from Columbia University, where her dissertation focused on the trecento-painting program in the Palazzo Ducale in Venice. Beyond her interest in the municipal imagery in Renaissance Italy, she has worked on the Venetian city garden and public/private spaces in the urban fabric of Venice. In addition to Columbia she has been a Visiting Professor at Wesleyan University, Bard College and Vassar College offering courses focused on the medieval through the baroque period in Europe. She also serves on the board of Trustees of The New York Botanical Garden and Millbrook School.

Financial Considerations

Program Fee (Summer 2017) : Includes tuition, housing, local transportation, course-required excursions.
  • 6 points: $8,966
  • 7 points: $10,252
  • 9 points: $12,824
  • 10 points:$14,100
Estimated Out-of-Pocket Expenses for Program Duration: $3.400
Please note that out-of-pocket expenses are estimates and will vary considerably by student.


If you are on financial aid, check to see if it can be applied to studying abroad. In general summer financial aid is not available to Columbia College or Columbia Engineering students, but may be available to School of General Studies students. Non-Columbia students should check with their home schools for funding availability.

Funding Your Summer in Venice

Columbia undergraduate and Barnard students may apply for the following scholarship applicable to this program:

  • The Finley Fellowship for Venetian Studies

For more general information and resources on financing your time abroad, please see the pages below:

Dates & Deadlines

Application Deadline: 
Thursday, February 15, 2018
Admissions Decision Date: 
Saturday, March 10, 2018
Program Dates: 
Thursday, June 7, 2018 to Saturday, July 21, 2018