French Riviera to Venice

Faculty: Rick Muthiah and Nathanael Ankeny
Class meeting time: Wednesdays from 6:30 to 9 p.m.
Trip Dates: May, 2024

A view of a tree and the ocean


This course will explore history and culture through all five senses: the sight, sound, scent, taste, and touch of southern France and northern Italy. We’ll start by exploring the art of Van Gogh in Arles, alongside an ancient Roman amphitheater and 10th century castle ruins, complete with trebuchet demonstrations. Next, it’s on to Villefranche-sur-Mer on the French Riviera for a cooking course (the art of French cuisine), famous gardens, hiking, and visits to Nice and Monaco. Then we’ll arrive at Cinque Terre in Italy, five coastal villages famous for fishing, pesto, beaches, and incredible sea views from hiking trails. Traveling northward, we’ll stop in Milan on our way to Varenna, seeing Da Vinci’s Last Supper, hearing world-class music and experiencing the Milan Cathedral. After exploring Varenna’s historical villas and sites on Lake Como, we’ll end our trip in Venice: gondolas, St. Mark’s Cathedral, nearby island towns, and swimming in the Mediterranean.

With five main locations to stay in, this study tour is geared towards students who would benefit from a slightly slower-paced trip. Day trips still give students opportunities to see a wide variety of places. And this tour gives a balanced experience of many aspects of culture: contemporary and historical, urban and rural, plus food, nature, art and music.

Tentative Itinerary

Day 1 Travel Portland to Marseille; train to Arles
Day 2 Arles - Van Gogh walking tour of the artist’s famous paintings in the city
Day 3 Arles - Castillo de los Baux and the ancient Roman Arles Amphitheatre
Day 4 Arles - exploring outdoors with area nature reserves and gardens
Day 5 Arles to Villefranche-sur-Mer
Day 6 Villefranche-sur-Mer - day trip to Nice: Cuisine Sur Cours Atelier gastronomique cooking class
Day 7 Villefranche-sur-Mer - day trip to Monaco: the Palace, the Aquarium
Day 8 Villefranche-sur-Mer - day trip to Eze, Le Gardin Exotique and Nietzsche Path hike
Day 9 Villefranche-sur-Mer - the gardens at Villa Ephrussi de Rothchild
Day 10 Travel to Cinque Terre
Day 11 Cinque Terre - hiking the towns
Day 12 Cinque Terre - exploring the beaches
Day 13 Travel to Varenna via Milan - Da Vinci’s Last Supper, the Milan Cathedral and music at La Scala (TBD)
Day 14 Varenna - Boat tour on Lake Como
Day 15 Varenna - history and architecture at Villa Monastero, Church of San Giorgio and Church of St. John the Baptist, and Vezio Castle
Day 16 Varenna - Exploring day: kayaks, hiking, beaches
Day 17 Travel to Venice via Verona
Day 18 Venice - St. Mark’s Cathedral, St. Mark’s Square, the Doge’s Palace
Day 19 Venice - Venice Lido, swimming in the Mediterranean
Day 20 Venice - exploring Murano and Burano, islands of glass and colorful architecture
Day 21 Venice to Portland