Italian Senior Spotlight: Tianyi Vanessa Cai

Vanessa Cai 1

Tianyi Vanessa Cai (Art & Art History Major, Italian Minor ’20) shares with us her special relationship with Italian language and culture. Grazie Vanessa!

«Being a violin player and a fan of the virtuoso Niccolò Paganini, I registered for an Italian class when I entered college hoping to learn more about the language and its culture. The class was so engaging that I decided to continue despite the initial challenges.

I spent a summer in Florence in 2017. Florence is like a living dream. I fell in love with the feeling of randomly wandering around the city — the golden sunshine, talented street artists, pigeons, and gelatos keep reminding me of the beauty in life. Taking art history classes in museums and churches provoked me to declare my major in Art & Art History, and incited my interest in Renaissance Art. Subsequently, I did an independent study on Sandro Botticelli’s painting Primavera in Galleria degli Uffizi.

Last summer I went back to Italy, and did another program in Siena. The surreal experience of Palio (the biannual horserace) left with me unforgettable memories. Living in a contrada, going to contrada dinners, and standing among the heat on Piazza del CVanessa Cai 2ampo with numerous ardent spectators, I was amazed by the Sienese’s passion for preserving such a Medieval tradition.

The study of Italian language opened a brand new door to me by bridging me with people and culture from another part of the world. I have met countless amazing people in Italy who are still inspirations in my life in various aspects.

I am grateful for my four years with the Italian Department at W & M. The professional and caring professors have introduced me to Italian cultures from a diverse perspective, and have shaped me into a more mentally mature individual.»

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