After many months of preparation and fund-raising, the day for the Latin group of 21 students and some supportive adults had finally arrived. Forty hours after leaving Invercargill we arrived in Rome and headed straight to the MSC cruise ship. We travelled to Genoa first, then south to Malta, Athens, Cyprus, Rhodes and Crete spending a day touring at each stop. Each day had new sights and experiences with the most exciting excursion being in Malta where we all piled into 8 open air jeeps and drove across a mix of terrains to different venues. As soon as we returned to the ship each day everyone rushed to the 24-hour buffet intake. During the “at sea” days on the ship the outside spa pools were very popular for the Hargest students or in the ‘teen’s club’ where they met loads of new friends from different countries. After saying goodbye to our ship we had a further five days in Rome. We visited some famous buildings, learnt five attack strokes with a sword at gladiator school and drove down to Naples to see Mt Vesuvius and the Pompeii ruins. The students certainly had their studies brought to life!
Art History, Classics and Latin Trip to Italy.
Finally, after months and months of fundraising and planning, we were off. Italy here we come! Miss McDonald, two parents and twelve very excited students left Invercargill and 36 hours later we arrived in Milan, Italy - the fashion capital of the world. After checking into our rather plush hotel, we caught the Metro into town and visited the Castle Sforza and Milan Cathedral before getting in some retail therapy. After our first delicious authentic Italian meal (pizza for most of us) we were well and truly ready for bed.
The next morning, we met our tour guide and bus driver, and headed north to the scenic, Lake Como (home to celebrities such as George Clooney and Richard Branson). Here we had a private boat ride around the lake, spotting celebrity houses along the way, before arriving in the beautiful village of Bellagio. After returning to Milan the next day, the art buffs of us enjoyed visiting Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting “The Last Supper”. From there we were on the road to Venice, stopping off at Romeo and Juliet’s picturesque hometown of Verona on the way.
Venice, well what can I say? Beautiful! We arrived by boat and visited St Mark’s Square, the Doges Palace, saw an authentic Murano glass blowing demonstration, and walked across Cassanova’s famed Bridge of Sighs. We all enjoyed gondola rides through the canals and buying authentic masquerade masks. After two nights in Venice, we boarded the bus and headed west to the Cinque Terre.
The Cinque Terre is a cluster of five brightly coloured fishing villages set into rocky hillsides on the Mediterranean Sea. After stopping off for some sightseeing, shopping, gelato etc, we caught a ferry to the next village, unfortunately it was late and we had to sprint to catch the train to Santa Margarita, our stop for the night. In fits of giggles we just managed to get on the train before a local informed us we were on the wrong one! Suffice to say, we exited quick smart and boarded the right one.
Next morning, we were up bright and early to visit and scale the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa and take the obligatory cheesy pictures pretending to hold it up, before continuing on to Florence.
After breathtaking Florence for a few days, where we visited Michelangelo’s amazing David sculpture and the Uffizi Gallery, we headed down to Rome. This place is amazing! It is so different to everywhere else we have been. After nothing but days and days of heat and sun, today it rained. But out came the street sellers and we were all soon the owners of umbrellas and ponchos. Highlights of our three days here included visiting the eerie Capuchin Monks chapel (built with the real skeletal bones of the monks), the Vatican, the Roman Forum, the Colosseum and of course shopping!
Back on the bus, the Amalfi Coast here we come! We caught the ferry to the island of Capri where we visited the incredible Blue Grotto, before heading back to the mainland to Sorrento. The following day we visited Pompeii and climbed right to the top of Mt Vesuvius. An impressive feat on a normal day, but we did it in a very muggy 26 degrees. From there, we headed back to Rome for our last night in our now beloved Italy. It was with great sadness tinged with excitement to go home, that we board the plane home to Invercargill. This trip was an amazing experience, educationally beneficial and we all can’t wait to return. If you ever get the chance to travel to Italy, don’t hesitate, you will never regret it. Ciao!