The Aftermath

I am the last student left in the villa. While I am fortunate because I am going to extend my travel but I am also unfortunate in the way that I have spent the last couple days watching my classmates leave. I feel like the word classmate doesn’t even begin to cover it. We have spent four months together and I now feel like we have truly become a family.

The studio culture at Clemson already fosters this sort of relationship: one of love and support inside and outside of the classroom. I have met some of my best friends through studio and bonded with them over late nights of working and class trips around the country. But nothing could prepare me for the friendships that would result from my time abroad. We’ve laughed together, had Bachelor nights together, traveled the continent together, and eaten more pizzas together than I’d care to count. The Clemson family has never been more evident to me than during the past semester.

And now I’m sitting here in an empty villa, trying to focus on the memories we’ve made instead of thinking about how much I’m going to miss all of you. I could go on and on about how much each one of you means to me and reminisce on all of the fun we have had the past semester, but I will refrain. I’m not ready to leave, just like I wasn’t ready for all of you to leave the villa. I wish I could relive the semester all over again but I know that we all have a great senior year full of more memories to come. And I also know that our European adventures have only begun this semester and that we will be back very soon. Ciao amici.


The FINAL Final Blog.



The excitement has begun to build. In only five days, I will be finished with my Junior year of Clemson and will be moving on to my final year in undergraduate campaign. I have put in a lot of work into this final project, and yet, there is still much left to do. But I have got to say, for every semester of studio that passes by, I learn more and more about my field of study. I learn the software better, to sketch better, to present better, to be more efficient with my time.

This has definitely been a wonderful and fulfilling semester. Being able to not only talk about architecture, but to experience it in person 1:1 is something that we don’t experience much back home: at least not in collaboration with our actual studio. It has helped me to understand more about the existing spaces and has forced me, in my own design, to try and put myself in spaces that I develop. What kind of experiences can be made here? How can this space really influence someone? These are just a few of the questions that I’ve learned to ask myself. These must be similar to the questions that the developers of our Studio Genova program asked themselves. They continue to do a great job as this has been one of the most influential experiences, yet.

-Mason Blackwell

A Semester to Remember

Where has the semester gone? I can’t believe that my time in the villa has come to an end. I remember how excited I was to get to Genova. I spent lots of time thinking about all the places I would explore, the Italian food I would eat, and the bonds I would make. Four months later, I have explored 11 countries, ate more than enough plates of carbonara and too many slices of prosciutto pizza, and am leaving with friendships stronger than I could have imagined.

Looking back, I feel that I have learned a lot over the course of the semester. And while I admit that statement generally holds true for semesters at Clemson as well, my time in Genova has provided a different sort of learning environment. I have learned more about life, about the world, and about myself than I have ever imagined. Here are 11 of the lessons I’ve learned over the last 4 months:

  1. There is a Beyoncé lyric for every occasion (and every Instagram post)

  2. It is possible to fall asleep anywhere. On a train. On a sidewalk. With the lights on. In a fast food restaurant. Standing up.
  3. How to snap.
  4. Even after thousands of photographs from the semester, but you’re always going to wish you had taken more pictures.
  5. Landscape architecture students are cooler than expected.
  6. The villa stairs are not as bad as everyone says. Or I’ve gotten less clumsy (not true)
  7. My French is not as good as I thought. But it’s also not as bad as everyone else thinks.
  8. A girls trip to Greece solves everything. Also proven in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
  9. How to cut an apple the Italian way. Actually, this one is still a work in progress.
  10. The value of wearing leggings under your jeans, especially in Scandinavia.
  11.  Study abroad is just as life changing as everyone says.

I’m so sad that this journey has to end. I’ve extended my stay in Europe, pretty much until my bank account runs out, but it won’t be able to compare to this experience with the people I now consider my villa family. Thanks for the memories, Genova, I truly will never be the same again.



Pisa/Pizza my heart

Yet another blog post that didn’t get written on time. This was not my intention but here we are.

You grow up hearing about the leaning tower of Pisa. It’s this icon of classical architecture gone wrong, yet still impressive for standing the test of time and gravity for centuries. The tower itself was smaller than I expected; it didn’t quite live up to the monumental hype in terms of scale. I also wasn’t aware that the tower was just a piece of the Pisa complex, with the baptistery and cathedral. The town was exactly what I pictured though – small and quaint, but covered with vendors trying to sell tacky souvenirs and knock off designer accessories. I very much enjoyed our day in Pisa and I can now check another piece iconic Italian architecture off my bucket list.

Emily DSC_0676

Studio Summary

Since somewhere along the way, I skipped a studio blog post, I want to reflect on our studio class this semester. I appreciate the emphasis on user-focused design because I think that has been lacking in my architectural education until this point. I feel as if I can think about architecture from multiple points of view now and I’m very grateful for learning that along the way. I also don’t think I’ll ever be able to walk into a public library without thinking about the building’s design.

I am also glad that this semester was a partner project (not sure everyone else will agree). I think that being able to compromise in design and work towards a common goal with another designer is a very important skill for when we continue or education and eventual careers in architecture. I had a very positive experience working with Jonathan and our project has culminated into a seamless blend of architecture and landscape architecture. I have learned a lot of skills and gained knowledge about landscape architecture, something that I didn’t know much about previously. I hope he can say the same. Overall, the studio work has been more demanding than I expected but this semester has been well worth the late nights and full hard drive.




Don’t let the worry stop you.

IMG_6452.JPGStudio final is in 4 days. I am no where near where I would like to have been, but so is life somehow we will all deal with it.  George says I’m a worrier and after four months of being so close I’m shocked it took this long for him to vocalize it… joking. But yes I find that I am a worrier of many things. Now that it is (almost) all said and done I am happy I didn’t let my worry or fear of the unknown stop me for participating in this program. I understand that even if I don’t realize the effect of this trip immediately that the benefits of understanding myself to another degree will help in the future. I see the “Clemson Family” more in this trip that I have had the home of the university. This program  has been a pivotal time in my education. No matter how often you go somewhere or put yourself out of your box you will always learn something about yourself. I have found this to be true in this experience. This program’s situation creates a very unique relationship between students and the professors. When your professor becomes more your friend and mentor then someone “instructing” you the process of learning becomes more personal. The idea that design is a very personal yet public, public in the way that you have to share what you have done on display. So we will see how my display of this last project goes! Ciao for now and I wish the very best for all the friends I have made in the past four months!




My three favorite parts of the semester



Since my freshman year I’ve been anticipating studying abroad in Genoa. It was very different than everything I had expected. I had heard stories from people who studied here in the past, but even that didn’t prepare me for the reality of being here. At first, living in the Villa felt like boarding school. It still feels like that. But in a good way. I adjusted to the lifestyle of constantly being in the same setting with the same people and I grew to appreciate it and love it. Never in my life will I have another experience like this. Traveling with my friends has by far been my favorite part of this semester. Being in Europe gave me an opportunity to travel for cheaper and to more places than I would be able to do in the states. I’ve been from Scandinavia to Greece and lots of places in-between. I have a greater appreciation for travel now, and I appreciate it for different reasons than I did before. Every place we go in Europe looks different. There’s a different culture, different landscape and different vibe. I began appreciating the places we went for the place and not just the experience. Of course, traveling with some of my best friends made the semester even better. The Villa in itself is great, too. It’s beautiful to be able to look out the window and see the sea from my studio desk. The Villa staff also helped make this experience the best. Silvia, Cristina, Lucia and Giuditta are all so kind, helpful and overall awesome people. George and Tony were great professors and made this the best experience possible. I’m excited to go home, but part of my heart will always be in Genoa. I feel like I’m leaving home as I’m returning home. Hopefully I’ll return to Genoa in the future- I can’t imagine leaving this place forever. It’s crazy that this is what I anticipated most about Clemson architecture and it’s almost over. I’ll hold onto this experience and the memories I’ve made here for the rest of my life.


Madison S.

grazie mille, ciao, arrivederci

Oh, where to begin? Trying not to cry. Studying abroad has been one of the best, most rewarding and most enriching experiences of my life. I thought I knew what was coming with these four months, but everything, of course, exceeded all my wildest expectations and I couldn’t be more thankful for all the memories created here. I never wanted to take the limited time spent here for granted, and I also wanted to see as much of Europe as I possibly could. Somehow, I have had the opportunity to visit and explore 42 cities and 10 countries (and counting) on field studies trips and independent travels. Also, my life has changed significantly and my food palette has grown enormously. I have tried nine different fruits and I love strawberries (thanks to Silvia, the only person who could get me to try fruit in the past 21 years). I have learned to drag myself out of bed at 7 and actually enjoy the mornings (thanks to focaccia and an angry group of villa residents if it isn’t there when they wake). I have learned how to pack lighter and do my own laundry (thanks to weekend travels and my Nonni not being here). And I have learned that life in the villa is an environment like no other and can’t be replicated anywhere else. I have created friendships and strengthened friendships that hold memories and bonds no one else could understand.

The semester has been a roller coaster in all sorts of ways, but I could not be more grateful for the time I have been given to spend in Europe. From skiing in the Italian Alps to dog sledding in Norway to sailing on a catamaran around Santorini, I have done some of the coolest things ever and made memories I will never ever forget. Leaving in a week from tomorrow is such a bittersweet feeling. I’m excited to be back home with all my family and friends (and new puppy), but thinking about leaving this beautiful place (and all of its gelato) brings tears to my eyes. Grazie mille, Genova.

Ciao for the last time!



Remember the Villa Days


This past semester has been one of the most life-altering experiences of my life. Coming into this semester I began only knowing Jonathan and I now I feel like I’m friends with everyone at the villa. The atmosphere at the villa is truly one of a kind and can’t be replicated anywhere else. I’ve had other friends study abroad, but our experience is unique because we all live in a house together and have to share the responsibilities of day to day tasks. Looking back at this semester I’m hit with thinking how fast its gone by and also can’t believe it has only been four months. This semester has been one of the most rewarding experiences in terms of personal growth and academic growth. This semester has been all about balance and keeping up between schoolwork and traveling. Also when George said at the beginning of the semester that “you have to be flexible” because things happen that you can’t control. One example could be when Italy had a train strike as six of us needed to use the train to get to the Malpensa Airport. We ended up renting a van to take us there, but it’s things like that making life hard if you don’t adapt.

This semester in studio has been full of ups and downs, but has turned out to be one that I will always look back at and be happy with what I have done. The first project with Franco as my client was rewarding in that it really helped me personalize a project to one specific person in an unusual setting. This is really helpful in that many projects in the profession combine areas that don’t fit, but people look to the landscape architect to somehow merge them. The first project also was extremely helpful in that the poetic nature of the story that my project was created off of and the style really helped me build what I think is a strong project for my library. My library is mostly focused on creating an outside component that really  compliments a library and serves as a shared component with the inside part. With a few more days until final review I’m starting to put the final touches on the project and feel really confident in my project.

Overall I’m really gonna miss Genova and though happy to be heading back, I’m also sad the time is coming to an end. The experience truly can’t be rivaled in my opinion and will stay with me for the rest of my life. From the often contested choices for movie nights to the adventures down to Tequila Bar things are always happening at the villa.

-Christian Whitehead

Days of our Youth


It’s hard to imagine that this semester is coming to an end. It feels like just yesterday I was counting down the last week until I flew out to Europe. Fast forward a few months and now I am counting down the last week before I fly home. This last week here in Italy is full of school work and projects as we prepare for our final review. The closer it comes to the end of my time in Italy, the more I can’t help but think back on all the good times we have had. It feels like just yesterday I was organizing the ski trip to Cervinia.  It really is true that time flies when you’re having a good time; and a good time I have had with these close friends.  These are the days of our youth and they are days I will never forget.  It really has been a trip of a lifetime traveling around Europe with this group.  I’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime and learned more about myself and the world.  I got to snowboard under the Matterhorn in Cervinia and the Eiger in Switzerland; I’ve seen the city that is built on water, walked around the Eiffel Tower and the Colosseum and seen one of the most beautiful sunsets of my life from atop Castle Hill in Nice, France.  This semester was more than I could have ever imagined.

It is bittersweet to know I will have to say goodbye to all the friends I have made in Genoa in a little over a week.  At the same time, I am ready for more adventures to come this summer.  I could go on and on about all the fun times I have had in Europe but it is officially time for me to sign off on my last blog! Until time Europe, Cioa Ragazzi!

-Jonathan Pitts