Austrian Works of Art

Written by carolinepotts February 16, 2024

The first travel weekend has come and gone here at CIMBA, and I spent my four-day break in Austria. After a one-hour plane ride with magnificent views over the Swiss Alps (at least, that’s what my friends claim… I unfortunately slept through the entire flight), a group of us landed in Vienna, Austria.

Vienna is filled with old and astonishing landmarks. Ancient buildings stand proud at every turn of the city’s cobblestone roads. And in every nook and cranny of the city–every window, every building, every street–there is something creative and historic to see. I was captivated by the amount of masterful artwork I experienced in Vienna.

I experienced visual artwork when walking through the Belvedere Palace, with countless rooms. Even the lobby of the Upper Belvedere was artistic, with high white ceilings and intricate sculptures. The statues–also carved from white stone–were of men holding up the ceiling for their visitors, and they looked as if they were actually alive, with exertion and strength carved into their faces.

Once we had become acquainted with the lobby, my friends and I moved into a second room, where art from the Renaissance was on display. The painted ceilings and their chandeliers towered above us as I walked through every exhibit the museum had to offer.

Each passing room slowly led me back to the present day. I walked through hundreds of years of artwork at the Belvedere, each room a different time period, yet it all had a common theme: presenting the human experience. I have never been to war, have never been married, have never had children, but I somehow related to it all.

I spent plenty of time in front of a painting presenting a woman in a beautiful dark green dress holding a book, but she wasn’t reading. She was staring back at me with a little smile on her lips as if she knew I related to her. She is hundreds of years older than I am, but I felt like I was looking at a mirror made out of canvas and paint.

That night, my friend Callie and I bought standing-room tickets for the ballet–“Giselle” by Adolphe Adam–at the Vienna State Opera. We took the Underground straight to the Opera House, trying to save our already-tired feet.

But the moment the curtain rose, I forgot about my travel pains. It did not matter that the standing room was crowded or our view was obstructed. The performers were captivating enough to make me forget my troubles.

Within the walls of the Vienna State Opera, I experienced my favorite form of art: music. There, I watched Giselle’s woeful story regarding love, loss, and forgiveness. And other than the ushers whisper-shouting, “Quiet!” in German, the ballet was all I could think about during and after the performance.

Salzburg, another Austrian city I got to visit and home to the Von Trapp Family Singers, was also filled with artwork.

To start, Salzburg offered me the best cheese spaetzle I have ever had in my life (my dad was jealous, as he loves both cheese AND spaetzle). I would absolutely consider the meal a work of art! Not only was my meal good, but nearly every street housed a delicious smell from the city’s many restaurants. I never had a bad meal in Austria.

There were also enough The Sound of Music sights to make me fall in love with the movie all over again. My friends and I went on a tour of Salzburg that showed us both the city and several locations where the movie was filmed. One of my favorite stops was an overlook to view the town of St. Gilgen–a few kilometers outside of Salzburg–which was shown in the opening credits of The Sound of Music. It is a quaint village nestled next to a large lake and snow-capped mountains and a breathtaking sight.

I was exhausted by the time I arrived back in Paderno del Grappa. Barely awake to brush my teeth, I stumbled through my bedtime routine. As I was falling asleep, I couldn’t help but think of everything I had gotten to see those past four days. I have learned so much, and I am so grateful to have experienced Austrian artwork in its many forms. There is no way I won’t go back to Austria someday.