How Italians Do Field Trips

Such a gorgeous area!

I have been on two class field trips so far in Italy, and they both were like no field trip I have been on before.

The first field trip was for my Marble Sculpture class. We took a train to Carrera, a town about two hours outside of Florence. Carrera is basically the marble capital of the world. We explored marble studios and workshops and went to a marble museum.

The town was so beautiful, and it was so nice to get out of Florence for the day. In Florence, the streets are very narrow and windy from the high buildings lining the streets. Carrera was quiet and sunny with open streets that let in the daylight. Something I didn’t even realize that I missed in Florence–birds singing. There were plenty of trees and grass, and the people were so friendly it was almost unbelievable. The art and buildings were breathtaking. We packed a lot into one day, but it was still such a relaxing atmosphere that made it such a wonderful day.

The beautiful view at the ceramic studio.

The second field trip that I went on was for my Ceramics class. We went to a ceramics studio outside of the town of Certaldo, a little less than an hour away by train. The location of this studio was out of this world. When we got to the studio we walked out to the back deck and saw their view of acres and acres of vineyards and countryside. They may have noticed that we were groggy from the train, and they brought us out coffee, tea, and cookies, which were all amazing and we were all so grateful for. All of the mugs and pitchers were hand-made ceramics, of course.

The mountains where the marble is taken from.

We went to this specific studio to practice a form of ceramics called Raku, originating from tea ceremonies in Japan. Raku requires a special clay that has to be fired at a Raku studio rather than our regular kiln. We spent the morning glazing our vases and bowls in different colors and designs.

A man working on a sculpture at one of the studios.

For lunch, a chef came to cook a truly delicious meal for us. Each table got a big bowl of hot polenta, as well as bowls of other things to mix into the polenta, like meat sauce or spinach. It was so good! We ate and talked, all the while having the amazing view. We accompanied our meal with a little red wine. As if this wasn’t enough, for dessert we were surprised with the best chocolate cake!

Sculptures in the studio.

After lunch, we fired our pottery. Raku is such a special process because the pottery is fired at an extreme temperature and then put it a pile of a tanbark-like substance. The pottery catches fire and is completely covered with the tanbark until just smoke is seeping out. It is then put in cold water and cleaned. The result is a crackled color over black and everyone’s pottery turned out so beautiful.

Here’s some pictures of the process:

Just after the kiln was opened after the firing.

Massive marble pieces from Ancient Roman times.

 

The pottery getting put in the tanbark-like substance.

The pottery getting put in the tanbark-like substance.

Last step, cooling in the water!

My first two field trips were so unbelievable and amazing. Next up: field trip for my cooking class to an organic wine farm, and I can’t wait!

 

Submitted by Michelle, Global Ambassador in Florence, Italy