Planning Your Trip
Students are expected to make their own travel arrangements, but we are glad to offer assistance. Many economical fares are available to students through organizations such as STA and CIEE. Round-trip tickets from New York to Venice recently have started at around $1200 (taxes and fees included).
At orientation sessions held at Pratt on the Brooklyn campus in March and April, students have the opportunity to meet each other and can plan to travel together. Minutes from these sessions as well as a list of student telephone numbers and email addresses are share to all participants. A student handbook that contains detailed information will be distributed prior to departure. The book will serve as a survival guide and will contain details ranging from what to pack to how to get from the airport to Venice.
One useful agency through which to book travel is STA (www.statravel.com or 1-800-781-4040). Through STA you can make economical (and flexible) plane reservations, purchase Eurorail passes, and get your ISIC (International Student ID Card). It is useful on your trip since it will get you discounts on museum entrance fees (outside of Italy), plane fares, and buses to and from the airports, even in the U.S. When applying for your card you should take a passport-sized photo with you to speed up the process.
Eurorail passes are useful if you plan to travel extensively in Europe on your own, but not economical for short trips in Italy. These should be purchased well before you leave the U.S. through STA or www.eurorail.com. You will receive a train schedule upon purchasing your rail pass, but it is not as detailed as the Thomas Cook European Timetable, available at the reference desk of the first floor technology reading room in the New York Public Science, Industry, & Business Library.
For Italian rail schedule information, consult Trenitalia (www.trenitalia.com). Once in Venice, Italian rail schedules to specific cities are available for free at the train station (ferrovia) Venezia-Sta. Lucia. It is recommended that you make train reservations a few days in advance for a small fee; trains get booked up early. This is particularly true if you wish express service (rapido)- called the freccia trains (arrow). Reservations cost a little more but they are worth it. Also, arrive at the train station about fifteen minutes before departure time, or earlier if you did not make a reservation. Lastly, if you are not using a rail pass, it is very important that you validate your ticket (biglietto) by stamping it in the machines on the platform before you get on the train or you could be charged a large fine.
Usually American credit/debit cards cannot be used to purchase Trenitalia train tickets online, nor can they be used at the automated ticket machines in the stations. Use cash at the ticket machines, or if you arrive early enough to wait in line, you can use your credit/debit card at the ticket counter.
Students are required to hold passports in order to travel to Italy. Passports should be valid (i.e., they should not expire) for the duration of your trip abroad. If you are not an American citizen, you may need to obtain a visa for entry into Europe. Consult the Italian Ministry of External Affairs to determine if you will need to obtain a visa.
If you need to obtain an American passport for the first time, consult the US State Department's Passports & International Travel page.
If you are in New York City and need to obtain an American passport for the first time or need to renew an old one, the most efficient way is to go to the Passport Office on the lower floor in the Main Post Office at 8th Avenue and 34th Street. To avoid waiting in line a long time, arrive about twenty minutes before it opens. To speed up the processing of your passport, you can purchase an Express Mail envelope for about $15 addressed to you, and include it with your application; processing generally takes about 4–6 weeks. If you are outside of NY, check with your local Post Office about passport services or call a travel agent (who may charge a small fee) or AAA if you are a member. There is also an online system at http://www.usps.com/passport/.
For emergency rush service, one of many private companies that process expedited documents is PassportsandVisas.com. This website offers new passport rush service for a fee. For instructions as to what documents you will need to obtain a new passport, consult the US State Department's Passports & International Travel page.
What to Bring
It is a good idea to roll your clothes instead of folding them. It saves space, and they don’t wrinkle as easily. Make sure that you can lift your bags by yourself before you leave the U.S. Due to its many bridges, Venice is not the easiest place to get around when you have heavy luggage. Also remember that you are going to want to bring things back to the States with you, so you need to leave some space for future acquisitions when packing. It is best to travel as light as you can while bringing all the necessary essentials.
Sunscreen (the sun is strong in Venice); Small sewing kit (travel); Mosquito repellent (important!); Small battery-powered alarm clock; Health supplies such as prescriptions, medications, OTC treatments, anti-itch creams, band-aids, etc.; Adapter and/or converter, if you are bringing any electrical items; Music player (iPod, mp3 player, etc.); Map of Venice; Laptop computer (optional but recommended for art history, especially for graduate students); Swimsuit (vaporetto trips to Lido take 20 minutes); Comfortable shoes; Journal; Camera and film or extra memory for digital cameras; Notebook and/or loose paper for note taking on-site and assignments.
You will be introduced to art supply stores in Venice during orientation. Most supplies are comparable to U.S. prices; others are more expensive, while good paper, such as Fabriano, is less expensive. Some materials such as rice paper, archival cardboard and oil sticks are unavailable; small jars of acrylic polymer matte and gloss mediums are also hard to find. Please try to limit the supplies you bring to the essentials—items that you are particularly attached to. Be advised that paints and other supplies may be flammable and cannot be brought onto an airplane. For a list of items that can or cannot be brought, consult www.tsa.gov/travelers.
Materials to bring for Painting: A Sketchbook; A diary or bound journal; Pens, Pencils, Erasers; Your favorite brush/es; a small water color kit; Other tools you may want that are easy to carry; A sturdy canvas or nylon bag for carrying your supplies.
In Venice you can buy: Oil paint/Acrylic paint; Soft charcoal; Rags; Paper towels; Mediums; Stretched Canvas; Canvas Boards; Paper; Tape; glue; scissors; Copper plates at Scuola Grafica.
Suggested Materials for Drawing and Printmaking:
If you are an experienced printmaker, pack your favorite tools and drawing materials. Otherwise new printmakers can buy anything they need in Venice.
Please pack all of your supplies in checked luggage, NOT CARRY ON.
Books for Materials & Techniques: Vasari on Technique by Vasari; Craftsman’s Handbook by Cennino Cennini.
Book for Art History of Venice:
Architectural History of Venice (Deborah Howard)
Suggested Books for General information, Italian language, and Venice:
Blue Guide Venice (Blue Guides Series); Italian-English dictionary (Mondadori or Cassell); Rapid Italian for Students and Tourists by M. Cagno.
Suggested Pre-Venice Reading
A History of Venice by John Julius Norwich (several copies are in the Library on the Brooklyn campus). Also, the Pimsleur CDs/mp3s are excellent.