The Lagoon and Artisans of Venice
WaHV and 17th Biennale Architettura

4th – 7th October 2021

Venice holds a very special place in the heart of AHA. For thirty years the majority of our student courses have started in Venice and these ten days spent exploring the city and lagoon remain as very fond memories with generations of alumni and tutors alike. With adult trips we have spent many blissful days discovering and supporting local artisans, trattorias far off the beaten track and hidden churches and gardens within the city of Venice. In all of our travels in Venice, Italy and elsewhere in Europe we have always taken time to look properly, discuss fully and have fun with culture. By definition, AHA is always a guest in another country, where we cherish the culture.

Inspired by Jane da Mosto’s lecture for AHA ‘Caring for Venice’, we have put together a trip to concentrate on these aspects of the city; the Lagoon, the local artisans and the future of Venice and that of our own cities. Our few days are timed perfectly to coincide with the 17th Biennale Architettura with the theme ‘How Will We Live Together?’

Throughout our few days we will be popping into churches to discover hidden gems in passing.

A percentage of the fees will go towards the charity ‘We are Here Venice’.


Monday 4th October
The only way one should arrive in Venice is by water taxi, direct from the airport to the Hotel Bel Sito. After a quick but delicious pasta we will explore the streets and canals, discussing how the seemingly impossible was made possible with the history of this fascinating city and how it came to be. We will start with a private tour of the Bevilaqua workshop, we thought this would be an interesting opportunity to see how Venice’s traditions of trade and colour, which so influenced her art, are still powerful today in the textile industry (they also have a small and rather dangerous shop on site!). Drinks before supper at a lively trattoria and one of our favourites.

Tuesday 5th October
The day will be spent with the charity ‘We are Here Venice’. WahV will discuss their mission “Venezia e’ Laguna” before we set off by private boat to see the saltmarshes and the Isola del Lazzaretto Nuovo, an old quarantine island, to learn more about the plague in Venice. We will then explore the Lagoon further by boat before returning to the hotel.

Late afternoon, we have been invited by Jane da Mosto for drinks at her beautiful home, the Palazzo Persico on the Grand Canal.

Supper at an excellent restaurant famed for its fresh seafood.

Wednesday 6th October
The morning will be spent at the 17th Biennale Architettura which bears the timely title ‘How Will We live Together?’ In the words of Hashim Sarkis, Curator of this Biennale and Professor of Architecture, “The current global pandemic has no doubt made the question that this Biennale Architettura is asking all the more relevant and timely, even if somehow ironic, given the imposed isolation. It may indeed be a coincidence that the theme was proposed a few months before the pandemic. However, many of the reasons that initially led us to ask this question – the intensifying climate crisis, massive population displacements, political instabilities around the world, and growing racial, social, and economic inequalities, among others – have led us to this pandemic and have become all the more relevant.” We will discuss these issues while looking at a selection of the most fascinating and witty displays of this eclectic exhibition.

After a well-earned lunch we will visit the studio in Palazzo Zenobio of Paolo Olbi, one of Venice’s most eminent bookbinders and masters of paper. Here we will be shown their beautiful creations and discuss their continued mission to reinvent this artisanal craft in Venice. We will then have a chance to take part in a workshop create our own small notebook.

Dinner at a local trattoria in a piazza nearby.

Thursday 7th October
Early morning we will visit the workshop of the incredible artisan of glass making, Vittorio Costantini. Vittorio, son of a fisherman and lace maker from Burano, began his apprentice at a glass furnace in Murano at the age of eleven. He has always had a deep love of the ecology of the lagoon and his intricate creatures show his intense study of their anatomy. Vittorio will give us a demonstration on how he creates these remarkably intricate pieces.

We will then set off for the airport in our private water taxis.



Further Details

Charlie Winton and Cat Manson will lead the trip. Charlie has taught for AHA for many years and lived in Venice specialising in Venetian Renaissance painting and architecture. Cat specialises in brand, culture and reputation communications. She spent twenty five years at Christie’s where she oversaw some high level consignments such as the Rockefeller Collection and Salvator Mundi sales.

We will stay at the Hotel Bel Sito, perfectly placed in the centre of Venice by the lovely baroque church of Santa Maria del Giglio.
Bel Sito website

We do not book the flights thus allowing you to travel to suit your budget, use airmiles, travel between different airports or on different dates. We recommend buying the following flights with British Airways:
4th October London Heathrow 08.50 – 12.05 Venice BA0578
7th October Venice 17.05 – 18.25 London Heathrow BA0579

There will be a private water taxi for the airport transfer to meet the recommended flights. We will Venice explore by foot and spend Tuesday travelling by boat.

We will send our safety protocol ahead of the trip. It is essential you read our Terms and Conditions for the details on cancellation.

There is quite a bit of walking on this trip, as well as many bridges. As is the case for all our courses, there is a lot of standing while we discuss the works we are looking at.

The fees are £1650 which includes accommodation and breakfast, all lunches, transfers for the recommended flight, transport when connected with teaching, entrance fees, Book Binding Workshop, private visits, a day and evening with WaHV, tuition, reading lists and local advice. The single room supplement is £120 (double room for single use). Not included are the flights, all suppers, travel insurance. The group will not exceed 16 people.

Included in the fees is a link to our lectures by Paolo Olbi and Jane da Mosto as well as Cat Manson’s three lectures on collecting. Please let me know if you would like a link.

Visits and Workshops
WaHV website
Vittorio Costantini 
Paolo Olbi

To register
Please complete the online registration form, having read our terms and conditions and pay the fees in full via bank transfer.

If you have any queries please email charlie@arthistoryabroad or call 01379 871800 (302)

NB you must buy your own flights.

Registration Form

Terms & Conditions