Photo caption: The three lecturers with the guide
The Faculty of Arts is pleased to announce the successful completion of a study tour to Calabria, Italy, as part of its MA in Mediterranean Studies programme. The trip, which took place from 23 - 27 May 2023, provided an immersive learning experience for 43 participants, including five MA students, about the Calabrian’s unique and diverse tapestry of art, classical history and geography. The region is in fact renowned for its captivating physical landscapes, vast artistic heritage and archaeological legacy rooted in ancient classical civilisations.
Led by Dr Charlene Vella from the Department of Art and Art History, Dr Carmel Serracino from the Department of Classics and Archaeology, and Dr Ritienne Gauci from the Department of Geography, the study tour aimed to deepen the participants' appreciation for the region's significance within the Mediterranean context. The comprehensive programme featured a carefully curated itinerary across notable historic destinations, which included Pizzo, Tropea, Reggio Calabria, Locri, Casignana, Gerace, Stilo, Taverna, and Catanzaro. In a region of southern Italy that is relatively unexplored amongst the Maltese, tour participants had the opportunity to not only explore a variety of natural landscapes, museums, and cultural landmarks but most importantly, engage in meaningful discussions, receive expert guidance, and form lasting connections with their lecturers and peers.
The first tour day opened with a visit to Pizzo, where participants explored the Murat Castle and its Centro Storico, followed by a visit to Tropea which offered insights of how region’s historical identity was shaped by the strategic presence of Aspromonte Mountains and coastal connections with the Tyrrhenian Sea. On Wednesday, May 24, the group ventured south to Reggio Calabria, to visit the unique treasures housed at Museo Nazionale Archeologico di Reggio Calabria such as the Bronzi di Riace, and the Hypogeum in Piazza Italia. Another significant visit was to the Pinacoteca Civica to admire its artistic treasures, including two important albeit small works by Antonello di Messina. On Thursday 25 May 2023, the tour continued to Casignana, Locri and Gerace, showcasing the Casignana's Roman Villa, Temple of Marasà, and the Gerace Cathedral with its noteworthy Norman Romanesque interior.
The penultimate tour day brought the participants to a reutilised monastery which was transformed into the MUSABA Museum, to admire the modern artistic life of Calabrian Nik Spatari, and later to Stilo, known for its Byzantine Cattolica Church with its frescoes and medieval streetscapes on top of the Silo Mountains. The tour was concluded on 27 May 2023 with visits to Taverna, the birthplace of Mattia Preti, where the group explored the Museo Civico and Chiesa Monumentale di San Domenico with its numerous Preti paintings, and Catanzaro's MARCA Museo.
"The study tour to Calabria was an interdisciplinary learning experience for our MA in Mediterranean Studies students and invited guests," said Dr Charlene Vella, academic coordinator of the trip. "Through immersive site visits and expert guidance, we provided to our participants valuable insights into the Mediterranean's tangible and intangible heritage and its impact on the present region."
The success of this study tour was possible thanks also to the invaluable support from Prof. Dominic Fenech (Dean, Faculty of Arts), Ms Karen Pace (Administration Specialist), Ms Chiara Borg from Enrico Travel and tour guide Ms Alessandra Moscatello from Kalabria Experience (Italy).
The Faculty of Arts remains committed to offering exceptional educational opportunities, such as the MA in Mediterranean Studies programme, which equips students with a comprehensive understanding of the Mediterranean region as a complex melting pot of cultural manifestations. This study tour to Calabria stands as another testament to the Faculty's unwavering commitment to fostering academic excellence in its programmes.