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The last day, The Villa d'Este and our lunch in Tivoli

"Every moment some form grows perfect in hand or face; some tone on the hills or the sea is choicer than the rest; some mood of passion or insight or intellectual excitement is irresistibly real and attractive to us, –for that moment only. Not the fruit of experience, but experience itself, is the end. A counted number of pulses only is given to us of a variegated, dramatic life. How may we see in them all that is to seen in them by the finest senses? How shall we pass most swiftly from point to point, and be present always at the focus where the greatest number of vital forces unite in their purest energy?

"To burn always with this h gem-like flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life"


"When old age shall this generation waste

thou shalt remain,

In midst of other woes than ours,

A friend to man, to whom thou sayest

Beauty is truth,

Truth is beauty.

That is all ye know on Earth

And all ye need to know"

Words from two of my favourite writers, Walter Pater, the 'founder' of the aesthetic movement, who believed in experience (rather than 'the fruits of experience', in other words, to live, and love and lose, but be in the 'now', and of course, John Keats, who has been with us the entire time throughout the course, the final lines of his Ode to a Grecian Urn, trying to covey to us what is important in Life.

Each one of us on the course, whether student, lecturer, visitor, has experienced the time in a unique way. We require no written work, no memorising of facts, no unification of what we have experienced. Only one thing, the ability to experience beauty, because that is free.

Incredibly, as I finish packing and prepare to head off to the airport, we have reached the end of our amazing nine weeks together, and another John Hall Venice course comes to a close.

Our traditional last lunch together was beneath the early blossoms of the wisteria at the Ristorante Sibilla, having paid a languid visit to the fantastic hanging gardens of the Villa d'Este, built by hydraulic engineers and architects for the cardinal, Ippolito d'Este. With fountains there are one of the wonders of the Baroque world, with hundreds of jets, explosive, towering waters, extraordinary sculpture in liquid.

We walked through Tivoli and ended up in the Ristorante Sibilla, next to a wonderful, ancient temple and tucked into our delicious meal...

...and now, to airports, families, cups of tea...and another year awaits us all

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