Sunday, August 5, 2012

Italy in a Day

Many of EF Tour destinations are visited in a day. Our Guide, Lindsay, talks of tours that feature one day visits t to Rome, Venice and more. It is hard imagine trying to take in the history, culture and food of Italy in one day, but these kids gave it the ol' college try!

It was funny to hear the stories of their Italian dreams prior to our arrival. Some wanted to decorate their rooms with all things Italy, others wanted to practice their language skills on vendors while others just wanted to defeat Lindsay's tour record of 6 gelatos in one day.

Our morning in Florence started with a guided walking tour. Our guide led us though the maze of streets past restaurants that have been serving pasta for hundreds of years, old market places and statues carved by masters.  The whole center of the walled city is covered in cobblestones. It is amazing to hear the clip clop of horse drawn carriages getting closer to you as you walk the streets just as one must have heard in the times of Michelangelo.

The kids commented on how bizarre it was to have a church like the Duomo stuck right in the middle of these streets lined with houses and shops. It is as if they wanted it to be in its own area far enough away from the hubub of daily life. It is a little hard for some of them to see a time when church was part of daily life especially with the plague ravaging the city outside.  (Perhaps I will have them read parts of The Decameron before next year's trip.)

During our free time to roam the small city within a city, some kids choose to just shop and hone their haggling skills in the market. As a warning to you back home, some of them are getting very good at it. Others choose to climb the shorter bell tower of the Duomo.  It was a smart use of time for first-timers because not only are there less stairs but it also doesn't have the line compared to the dome climb. I past on the dome climb in 2008 and wasn't about to miss it this time. You see, the dome climb has about an hour's wait before walking up a grueling 463 steps most all of which are inside a tight stone spiral staircase.  The first reward comes about halfway up when you pop out onto a ledge inside the church dome directly under the gigantic paintings of purgatory. The rest of the climb is in between the interior and exterior walls finishing on top with a spectacular view from of one of the largest church domes in the world. The two hour trip is a must-do event and worth a trip back.

When we met back at the Piazza della Signoria in front of the Palazzo Vecchio, we heard tales of victory, bargains and plain old good times. Your kids must really like you because the bounty they bought will make you feel like you went with them.

We finished our day with a breathtaking scramble to the top of the Piazza de Michelangelo over looking the Arno  River lined with the red clay rooftops of Florence.  Equally impressive was the site of the the Duomo popping out of it all like striped hill.

Each student made the most of our day visit.  It just goes to show you that it's not the amount of time, but the how you use the minutes.  


  1. Thanks for the recap - I am living vicariously thru your blogs and pictures - Keep them coming!