Make The Connection

October 10, 2023 | By Cole Hatcher

Ohio Wesleyan student Avery Panozzo ’25 visits the Colosseum in Rome during her monthlong study-abroad experience in Italy. (Photos courtesy of Avery Panozzo ’25)

Immersed in Italy

Ohio Wesleyan Student Spends Summer Studying, Exploring in the ‘Bel Paese’

Name: Avery Panozzo ’25
Hometown: Denver, Colorado
High School: Mullen High School
Majors: Biology and Sociology and Anthropology
OWU Connection Experience: Summer study abroad in Florence, Italy, through the CEA CAPA program

Why Italy?

“I chose this OWU Connection experience because it fit perfectly with my complicated schedule, and this program checked every box of mine. For my college experience, I have always wanted to study abroad, and since I play softball at OWU, I knew I wanted to do summer abroad courses.

“The OWU Connection program provided me with so many resources and useful insights to help me find the perfect program. I knew automatically that I wanted to study the art and culture of Italy, so this program spoke to me through the courses and excursions they offered.”

In the Classroom

Avery Panozzo ’25 explores the Pantheon in Rome.

While in Florence, Panozzo completed two courses “Sociology/Anthropology – Critical Perspectives on Italy: Contemporary Culture & Society” and “Art History – The Great Masters: Leonardo, Michelangelo & Raphael.”

“These courses helped me immerse myself into a new culture. They were very hands-on and gave me different cultural experiences outside of the tradition classroom. These classes provided exciting field trips all over Florence.”

Critical Perspectives

“The Critical Perspectives class provided me with an interactive experience of contemporary life in Italy by exploring a range of defining features of this country and its people. In-class and on-site lectures alerted me to salient sociopolitical and cultural phenomena in current Italian life, which triggered a critical analysis and evaluation. I also observed and reflected on practices of identity formation, gender, and community relations; political allegiance and conflict; cultural alignment or dissent; and social solidarity and artistic innovation.

“Through this class I was able to visit the Great Synagogue of Florence, the Gucci Garden Museum, and Florence’s Central Market. There were also a number of guest speakers … (including) Anna Kraczyna, professor at Stanford University and co-author of the annotated translation of ‘The Adventures of Pinocchio,’ and Vincent Vallon, who spoke on his experiences as a transgender in Italy.”

Great Masters

The Art History – Great Masters class allowed me to explore High Renaissance art and architecture in Florence, Rome, and Milan like an insider. I explored the onsite access to High Renaissance artworks in museum restorations laboratories in areas normally closed to the general public.

Through onsite discussions in front of their masterpieces, in Florentine galleries – like the Uffizi, the Academy (the David), Pitti Palace, Casa Buonarroti, Medici Chapels, and more – I learned about Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael. I also got the rare opportunity to tour historic spaces, including the routes and rooms of the Medici family’s ducal residences at Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti.

“For my personal project, I researched and presented in front of the La Velata portrait by Raffaello Sanzio in the Palatine Gallery, Palazzo Pitti, Florence.”

Program Excursions

Avery Panozzo ’25 walks to Piazzale Michelangelo during her time in Italy. Because she is an OWU athlete, she chose a summer experience.
  • Cooking Class in Florence – “I cooked in a professional kitchen at the side of professional chefs who shared their experiences and secrets to prepare Italian traditional dishes.”
  • Walking to Piazzale Michelangelo + aperitivo – “I walked in the city from CEA CAPA study center in Piazza della Repubblica to the uphill Piazzale Michelangelo. On the way back, we stopped at Rifrullo Cafè in S. Niccolò neighborhood for an aperitivo all together.”
  • S. Frediano neighborhood walking tour – “One of the most authentic neighborhoods in Florence, famous for craftsmanship and its beautiful squares.”
  • Lucca Daytrip – “We took the train and rented bikes to ride along the ancient walls with a local guide to learn about the history of Lucca.”
  • Ravenna Overnight – “(This) led to my favorite moment of the trip.”

Personal Excursions

  • The Amalfi Coast – “I was able to explore the beautiful cities of Sorrento, Positano, and Capri with boat tours. And lastly, I visited the city and museum of Pompeii.”
  • Rome – “Being able to travel in Rome in one day is not an easy task, especially in the Italian summer heat. But I was able to accomplish Rome by visiting the ancient Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.”

My Favorite Moment

“My favorite moment of this experience was the overnight trip to Ravenna, located on the North Adriatic Sea. On the first day, we took a train to Ravenna, then completed a guided tour visiting the most important UNESCO sites and ancient mosaics in Ravenna. This city is known for its 1,500-year-old churches, decorated with best-in-the-West Byzantine mosaics. These mosaics were located throughout the city and in Basilica di San Vitale, the 6th-century Basilica di Sant'Apollinare Nuovo and the cross-shaped Mausoleo di Galla Placidia.

“Visiting these ancient mosaics was my favorite moment of my experience because I was in complete awe in how these artists were able to create these religious sites so long ago. The history and creativity that they displaced left me in shock. Aside from the unique mosaics of Ravenna, the city charmed me with remarkable spots and its relaxed atmosphere. On the second day, we took a private bus to reach the coast and spent the day at the beaches.”

The OWU Connection program provided me with so many resources and useful insights to help me find the perfect program.

Avery Panozzo ’25

Lessons Learned

“After choosing the CEA Art, Culture & Business in Italy program, I quickly became scared of the fact that I was going to be all alone in a different country with different students all over the world. However, that fear turned into such a great learning experience. I was able to make friends with students from Los Angeles, to New York, to Alabama and even to Brazil.

“Another great learning experience that I received was from my professors. Both of my CEA professors were immigrated citizens to Florence, from Poland and Romania, who wanted to learn from us students just as much as we wanted to learn from them. This gave me great insight into how there are always more cultures, rituals, and ideas to be learned from all the different people around the world.”