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Venice, Italy

Program Description

This six-credit program explores the rich history and culture of Venice, Italy, which is often listed as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Now designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, the city of Venice- with its canals and lagoon- is an extraordinary architectural masterpiece with one of the highest concentrations of artistic masterpieces in the world. The city of Venice also hosts the Venice Biennale, one of the most dynamic and important exhibitions of contemporary art today. We will explore the many facets of this maritime jewel in two classes: HUM 250- Venice through the Ages and ARTH 428- 21st Century Art. Through this two-course experience, students consider both the rich history of Venice and the prominence of the 2021 Venice Biennale as a way a broadly understanding the role the arts and humanities on Venetian culture for over a millennia. This program satisfies JMU’s Group One, Cluster II General Education requirement.

Venice was at the forefront of commerce from the middle ages through the eighteenth century. Due to this, the arts and humanities flourished, nurtured by being at the crossroads of Europe and the Byzantine region. Our investigation of Venetian art and culture will begin with a number of readings and videos to be done before traveling to Italy, allowing us to spend more time immersing ourselves in the life and culture of this amazing city. Much of our time in Venice will be spent in the streets, museums, churches, and campos (squares) learning how the Venetians historically integrated the arts and humanities into their world.

We will explore a variety of spaces and events, including visits to the islands of Murano and Burano, several trips up/down the Grand Canal, the Doge’s Palace, a number of churches (including St. Marks Basilica and the Frari Church), the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, La Fenice Opera House, a classical music concert featuring Venetian music, St. Mark’s Square and much more (including regular stops for gelato!).

Finally, there will be two free weekends, during which students can continue to explore Venice or travel to other destinations, such as Rome, Milan or Florence.

Location Description

Venice is a truly unique city – one worth visiting soon as its historical treasures are increasingly threatened by rising sea levels. You will find that it is one of the few places as beautiful as the postcards! Comprising approximately 118 small islands connected by bridges and manmade walkways, transportation is entirely on foot or small boat (at its widest point, it is less than 2.5 miles wide). Venice not only fostered the development of many world-class artists, but many international writers, painters, musicians and architects travelled to Venice to work and play. We will be walking on streets once travelled by people like Marco Polo, Ernest Hemingway, Stravinsky, Galileo, and Napoleon to name but a few. Additionally, the city is home to the most famous Carnival celebration in the world; no trip to Venice is complete without stopping at a carnival mask shop!

Venice has been an international travel destination for centuries. As such, the city truly knows how to treat tourists; assistance is readily available and most Venetians speak several languages. A wide range of restaurants – from cheap to expensive – guarantees that you will not go hungry (and did we mention the gelato?). Getting lost is seldom a problem as you are on a small island: you can’t go too far! It is said that it takes less than a day to traverse the city but more than a lifetime to know it. Venice is truly a living museum and should be on everyone’s ‘must see’ list.


Beth Hinderliter | | School of Art, Design and Art History

William Wightman | | School of Art, Design and Art History


Accommodations will be provided for students through furnished apartments – most with internet access, kitchenette, and access to laundry facilities. Students will be in shared flats which are centrally located.

Students are given a weekly cash stipend to cover most of your food expenses. Additionally, several group meals will be included.

Additional Items to Consider

There is pre-departure class work to be done online via Canvas.

Travel to Venice:

A current passport is required. Plan to fly into Venice's Marco Polo Airport (VCE). Regular bus service between Marco Polo Airport and Piazzale Roma (car park) takes less than 30 minutes; buses leave approximately every 20 minutes.

Mobile service:

US cellphone plans can be extended to Venice through the student’s carrier. Likewise, if you have an 'unlocked' phone, you may wish to purchase an inexpensive SIM card once you arrive in Italy.


No knowledge of Italian is required for this program. Italian is the native language, but English is widely spoken and common on signs and menus in Venice.

All logistics, including these, will be fully discussed in group meetings leading up to the program.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

Open to all majors

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($40 fee)
  • Short Essay 
  • List of academic references
  • Interview with Program Director may be required
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU students

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in.

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


HUM 250: Foundations of Western Culture: Venice through the Ages (3 credits)

ARTH 428: Topics in Art History: 21st Century Art (3 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


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