Villa Party

I want you all to know that the villa party was. A. Blast.

So in order to avoid a terribly written blog post, I’m going to go straight to the students to let you know what they have to say about the party. 

What were the highlights of the party?

Milena: “Definetly the cake, it tasted like heaven. Also when Courtney fell on her butt, out of nowhere, standing on two feet, just literally kissing the floor with her butt. Wish we had this on video! But overall it was very nice, just meeting a lot of people, I liked how international the party was! But the highlight was the food, and the cake!” 

Courtney: “It’s true, I fell out of nowhere. I had fun eating Cristina’s food, meeting new people, and dancing.”

Ginny: “Sleeping after eating cake. The band, I liked them. I liked the saxophone.”

Stephi: “I needed two girls to help me get in my dress if that says anything about it. I loved meeting people, dancing, making terrible drinks at the bar (which I’m sorry for), and eating all of Cristina’s food. I wish we had a villa party every month!” 

Emily: “I loved all the delicious food, especially the cake. It was amazing. I wish we had that cake every day. I love cake. Mmm.”

Silvia: “Everyone could get dressed up and look beautiful. Luca told me how to make a drink but I forgot the name of it. It’s from Cuba. Also, cleaning up the day after.”

Tradd: “I really enjoyed talking to the interns at the villa party who were visiting from the Renzo Piano Studio, they had some really cool projects they were working on! I also liked learning how to make some traditional Italian aperitifs for our guests, and gave me a good chance to meet some of them that I may not have been able to with so many new people. The live music was really good, and added to the total ambiance of the party with its well dressed patrons and the elegant decorations.”

Ritinha: “Cristina’s food. I learned to work the bar. I got good at opening bottles -poppin’ bottles- by the first shift. I enjoyed making the paw on the cake with berries. I set the candles too in the pond.”

Henry: “Hmm. The outside candles were cool. Well, the music was okay; pretty loud. The saxophone was good too. Stealing food was fun (despite the fact that it was for him) breadsticks were awesome, mini rolls too, uh…uh, playing the videos on the screen.”

Joseph: “For sure seeing all the people in the picture all dressed up. It was pretty impressive. Another highlight was having professor Harding there.”


1. Huge s/o to Silvia for coordinating an amazing Villa party. Thank you for inviting so many people we could become friends with and learn from. Thank you for your attention to all the little details of the party and for all the wine. 

2. Cristina and Lucia. Thank you for cleaning, rearranging the studio space, making everything beautiful and comfortable, and cooking some amazing food for all of us. No one can get on Cristina’s level when it comes to food. 

3. Prof. Dan Harding. Thank you for joining us at the party this semester! It was a pleasure to have you at the party. Thank you for hanging out with us and showing us some of your favorite things about Genoa. 

4. Finally, a s/o to all the guests because we couldn’t have had such an amazing party without your company. And s/o to the students for cleaning up the day after.

Extended Travel #1

VIDEO 3 IS HERE! This one covers our first extended travel from September 3rd through September 11th.

Places visited include:

  1. Bologna
  2. Mantova
  3. Ravenna
  4. Verona
  5. Vicenza
  6. Venice

Overall, it was an incredible trip. It was definitely exhausting and sometimes we didn’t want to get out of bed, even for free breakfast, but we are glad we did. We got to enrich our lives with beautiful pizzas, palaces, castles, canals, delicious food and wine, the Biennale Architecture Exhibition, all of Giuditta’s knowledge, great sketches, and an innumerable about more.


It’s a sketchy topic

Before I ever studied abroad, my first impression was that all we did was sketch. I felt like we had to sit for hours at a time in different places and just sketch. At the time, the thought really scared me because I was never a big fan of my sketching style and I didn’t know how to improve myself. Now that I’m here, I was actually right.

But the difference is that it doesn’t seem like a burden now. I actually enjoy staring at what might seem like a obscure part of a building and sketching the details in an attempt to analyze and understand it. I would even say I find it fun to sketch, because between the obligation as an architecture student to sketch and my interest in drawing, I have found myself truly improving. I, as well as many students, would say that we form an emotional connection to our sketchbook. Instead of opening it to a blank page and start off with “dear diary,” then follow it with a paragraph about our day, we open it to a blank page and think “dear sketchbook,” and begin a composition of lines, colors, shading, hatching, and whatever else that captures a beauty that can’t be written out in words.

So with that personal introduction of the topic, I want to present sketches that students have done so far. The sketches students produce are utterly amazing. See for yourself.

Sketches by Milena Heuer

Sketches by Courtney Cox


Week 2

Short recap of week two right before out first extended travel!

We are becoming incredibly familiar with Genova and its architecture and history. It feels more like home here every day. Enjoy!

If you wonder what our Thursday’s are like…


Thursday is the day of the week we have day trips with Giuditta and I’m willing to say that Thursday is the most eventful weekday as well. Our first week was a general tour of the historic part of Genova and our second week focused of palaces which had some pretty fabulous gardens.

What really makes the day trips great though, is Giuditta. This woman is literally a fountain of unlimited knowledge and it cannot go unnoticed from how much information we get. You can ask her about anything (architecturally related and probably more) and she can give you a semesters worth of info. Best part is, she genuine about her interest in architecture which helps the students really get it.

This day trip was full of beautiful palaces, gardens, and art, which brought to life Genova’s history and development and left us with a great appreciation for the chance of living here for a few months.

No dull moment

Hey guys! Here is a short video that throws together some moments of our first week in Genoa. While I was putting it together, it blew my mind to see how much we had already done in just a matter of days. There is no dull moment here.

Hopefully with this video, you can feel connected to what goes on here and get a glimpse of the amazing experience we get to be a part of.

Check back soon for more posts and videos on whats happening.

Another fresh start


Welcome back and a big hello from all the students in the Genoa program this Fall 16 semester! It is, without a doubt, an incredible opportunity to be in Italy for a few month and be able to experience the food, the cheap wine, the art, the culture, and of course, the incredible architecture up front and with no limits.

As a short introduction, we have eight students living in the Villa this semester. Five undergraduates (Emily, Courtney, Tradd, Milena, and myself – Stephi), starting our senior year in architecture, and three graduate students (Ritinha, Ginny, and Silvia) who are also starting their last year of the program.  Also with us is professor in residence, Joseph Schott, who was welcomed to the Clemson fam last semester.

We have already had an INCREDIBLE (and incredibly busy) first few weeks in Genova. To recap a little, all our classes are in full swing, our first extended travel has come and gone, out studio project has taken off and we are already grinding, we have some weekend travels figured out, and we are keeping up with our gelato intake quite well (haven’t missed a week yet).

So keep up with us because there are many adventures, memories, and stories to be shared. Don’t miss it!

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