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Not just another art tour but also an immersion in the great European music tradition, world cinema, contemporary issues, plus the option of taking practical classes in cookery, photography, painting and Italian language. All of our lectures and presentations take place in the cosy environment of our state-of-the-art theatre.

Coming on our Venice Course takes less than 3 months out of your ‘year’. Most universities and Oxbridge colleges are enthusiastic about a gap year if time is well spent: the Venice Course is well regarded and many of our lecturers are from universities.

With a world-class team of experts, living as a resident in Venice for six weeks, and privileged private visits, it is an inspirational experience impossible to get anywhere else. Cheaper alternatives are exactly what they are, our price guarantees the best.

On a more practical note, our fees cover a 3-course supper every day (about 1000 euro over 6 weeks), travel pass on Venice transport (otherwise £8.00 per water bus journey) and other expenses usually charged as extras.


Once a year, from late January to late March

The Course begins with a week in London, based in our space in the Nash rooms at the ICA on The Mall, Tate Modern, and ends with the options , charged as extras , of a week in Florence and six days in Rome. The heart of the experience is Venice. Being genuinely resident in this most beautiful and historic city is something that nobody can forget. The calm enjoyment of living in Venice, where everyone can find their own pace to let the information and sensations filter through, is a vital ingredient of the Course.



The Florence and Rome options are a major part of the Italian experience, which the majority of our students attend. They are offered as an option as it may be difficult to commit because some students may have other unchangeable commitments, or for financial reasons. A memorable feature of these options is our highly privileged private visits, especially in Rome, to the Vatican Museums, including Raphael’s Stanze and the Sistine Chapel.


The Course is for all students who are or might become interested in the experience we are offering. Our students come from across the academic spectrum, from the classics to art history to medicine to pure mathematics. Much of the content of the Course is new to most. No one need feel nervous about seeming ignorant. Although the majority of our students are from British schools, there are also students from other countries, providing an international dimension to our community.



The long-term aim of the Course is to lay cultural foundations – a life-long investment which we believe has a more lasting and increasing value than many gap-year experiences.

More immediately and materially, in the question of university entrance, the Course is highly regarded in many university departments. Nothing in the Course is dumbed-down and our programme gives students a pre-view of a university as opposed to a school style of studying. Our referees, listed here make it clear that the Course has a serious reputation.

On the question of careers, participation in this Course is considered a positive addition to a curriculum vitae. There is a large invisible network of alumni and many have gone on to successful and distinguished careers in various fields. In the art world, alumni include specialists at Christie’s and Sotheby’s, several directors of commercial galleries, the International Head of Old Master Paintings at Christie’s New York, the Professor of Renaissance Art at the Courtauld Institute London University, Curator of Modern Art and Head of Displays at Tate Modern, Curator of Decorative Arts, Royal Collections, and the Director of the National Gallery, London.

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The Course was started in 1965 by John Hall in the context of the English educational system, where it is common for students to take a Gap Year before starting university. Going to Italy after leaving school is a tradition established centuries ago and is as alive and relevant as ever. History- Art – Music- wonderful architecture- good food and wine- good coffee- fashion- design- sunshine- a welcoming friendliness – a lifestyle where the vibrant present ( it’s always vibrant in Italy) is lived in a visibly present past – la Dolce Vita. Of all countries, it is Italy that offers the most potent distillation of Western Civilization. To live for six weeks in an Italian city can be a life-changing experience.


With long-distance travel so cheap and easy, many students who attend the Venice Course go on to back-pack all over the world, loaded not only with insect repellent, but with a totally new awareness of what European civilization is about, interesting to compare with what they see in other continents – AND with a seriously improved CV. Many students use these months after the Venice Course to follow a service- based activity.


There are many programmes in Italy, of widely varying quality, mainly of the language-learning or art tour variety

The John Hall Course is Entirely Different

  • We spend a meaningful period of time – six weeks – in one Italian city – a memorable experience in itself.

  • In addition to the hourly and daily contact with the great art of the city, residence in Venice gives time to introduce a whole range of interests: the classical music tradition from plainsong to massive Wagnerian orchestrations , from Tosca to Sweeney Tod; international cinema; some global issues from climate measurement to the origins of the universe; literature – Byron, Shelley, Keats, Browning, Pound in Italy; history – as well as practical activities- drawing, painting, photography, Italian language, cookery. These add a major dimension which makes it much more than just an art tour.

  • Our staff of around thirty experts, are all either rising young stars or already distinguished in their fields – university professors, curators, critics, conductors, theatre directors, writers.

  • We have many privileged private visits: in London, the National Gallery, The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace, Richard Rogers Architects’ Studios ; in Venice, an unforgettable night visit to St.Mark’s, the Fondazione Giorgio Cini; in Rome; the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and Raphael’s Stanze, the Keats-Shelley Memorial House.

  • The Course gives a foretaste of a university style of living and learning.

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Some students are bewildered by the variety of gap-year programmes on offer. Despite plenty of advice in schools and at Gap Year fairs, the very great differences between courses in Italy are not always apparent. An article written by a recent student for our Students’ Newsletter highlights the dilemma and gives a solution. Click here to read >

To see exactly how the John Hall Venice Course runs, hour by hour, day by day, go to The Programme

To see the quality of the Faculty, go to The Faculty

To get the feel of the Course first hand, view the various videos at Gallery

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