'Imagination will take you everywhere'
The sixth form’s annual art trip to a European city is the most talked about and anticipated event of the whole school year. Last year we embarked on a four-day escapade to Spain’s shrine to Gaudi; Barcelona. A colourful city of wacky architecture and vibrant markets with the spectacular La Sagradia Familia being the highlight of my trip (as well as the sangria). This year we headed to Italy’s gorgeous ‘floating city’; Venice. The omnipresent amalgamation of culture, art and history was unmistakable, despite the thick fog which enveloped us on our first day. Luckily the forecasted torrential rain never fell, instead the sunshine pushed its way through the grey clouds, lighting up the elegant architectural facades and sparkling on the numerous waterways.
However this trip certainly wasn’t a relaxing holiday – far from it. The four days were packed with drawing, museum visits and a lot of walking – all those bridges made my legs ache! But as a result I now have a variety of sketches which can be developed into a strong portfolio for my art exam. We also got to experience the Italian culture – more specifically the delicious food; gorging on the heavenly spectrum of pasta and pizza. But future tourists be warned: Venetian restaurants will try to rip you off at any given opportunity. One said restaurant enticed us inside with the promise of free drinks – only to be presented with a hefty bill after a not-so-great meal charged for the supposedly ‘free’ drinks, aswell as a service charge and a cover charge (a charge for sitting at the table). I was fuming! Although it did teach us a valuable lesson on choosing where we eat carefully. Eventually we found a relatively cheap, lovely little restaurant with an equally lovely waiter, which we returned to on several occasions.
Venice is like an architectural maze with unexpected wonders around every corner. The narrow, paved streets can suddenly open up to reveal beautiful squares or a bustling fish market. Canals weave throughout the city containing the most vivid reflections – particularly at night when the street lamps twinkle on the water. Gondoliers are constantly haggling passers-by for a ride in their magnificent gondolas, shouts of ‘Bella, bella’ can be heard following you as you walk past indignant at the eye watering price (about 50 euros). Although I would love to ride in a gondola one day – some gondoliers sing to you as they punt along the Grand Canal, one even had a guitarist who strummed a tune – how romantic!
The most memorable part of the trip was the feeling of complete freedom as we sailed down the Grand Canal, under the famous Rialto Bridge on the Vaporetto (water bus) with the breeze blowing through my hair and the late afternoon sun silhouetting the buildings. I also won’t forget the fabulous pesto tagliatelle which I ate outside in a small square, or the feeling of the warm sun on my back as I sketched a gondola while perched on the edge of Piazza San Marco. Venice is definitely a city I will be returning to – but not in the summer when the sweltering heat is just unbearable, aswell as the stink of the canals and the stampede of tourists. The spring is perfect; sunshine is beginning to make an appearance, the flood platforms are being taken down and the streets are quiet except for the distant tolling of a bell, the squark of a seagull and the humming of a gondolier.