Italy Tour News Updates
We have had no internet for a few days hence the lapse in time since the last report. We left Florence on Tuesday morning for the
small hilltop town of Assisi. The students were wondering what this stop would be like, but they were delighted with the pristine
medieval town nestled in the heart of Italy. We enjoyed our afternoon of wandering up and down the streets and had a great tour of
the basilicas -- specifically St. Francis of Assisi basilica. Above the town is a fortress that we all hiked up to -- spectacular
panoramic views of Umbria. We know now why people move to the countryside in Tuscany and Umbria -- it IS as beautiful as the movies
make it out to be!
Wednesday we left early to travel south past Rome towards Naples. Despite some rain, we saw Mount Vesuvius and learned much of the
history of the area with it's volcanic activities (brought Japan and the current crises there to our minds). We spent the afternoon
in Pompeii having an excellent guided tour of the ruins. They are vast and incredible to learn about. It is hard to believe that
this city dates back 2,000 years with another portion of it dating back 4,000 years. We drove another hour south along the majestic
coastline to Sorrento and spent the evening in our beach hotel. Some students managed a quick dip in the freezing ocean while
others walked on the volcanic beach sand taking pictures of the incredible scenery.
Today we drove back up to Rome and began the last leg of our journey by seeing the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps.
Our full day tomorrow will take us to the Vatican City, St. Peters, the Coloseum and Forum followed by the Pantheon. Saturday we
begin our long journey day home and hope to arrive safely back into Tampa late Saturday night.
This has been a whirlwind, nonstop
journey of Italian history, art and culture. The group has done incredibly well with little sickness (some colds) and great attitudes
even when things have been frustrating and very non-American! It is a great learning of other cultures and traditions. The thousands
of pictures that have been taken will tell the stories of this journey we have taken together for years to come.
Please pray for our safe return. We look forward to sharing more soon!
Craig Ralston for the Italy team
Greetings from Italy!
After a near missed flight in Miami due to complications in Tampa, we boarded Iberia Airlines for Madrid on
Thursday evening at 5:30 p.m. Arriving into Madrid on time Friday morning we were greeted with a cancelled flight to Venice! Italian
transportation decided to strike on Friday until 3:00 p.m., and strike they did, stranding Italians nationwide and travelers across the globe!
Welcome to the Italian way!
Rather than sit in Madrid airport for 9 hours, we took full advantage of our day, put our luggage in storage, caught the subway into
Madrid and proceeded to sightsee and purchase souvenirs! Despite not being in Venice, we had a great time in this non-scheduled
European city! The team had a great attitude and enjoyed out time in Madrid. The must-purchased Starbucks Madrid mug was, of course, a
number one item for me personally!!
We arrived into Venice at 7:00 p.m. and were grateful for all of our bags to arrive with us. We were joined by another EF group from a
college in Massachusetts and headed to Venice by vaporetto (water taxi). Our hotel was on Lido, the beach island across from the
Once settled into our comfortable hotel, we had a grateful few hours of sleep before an early start to Venice. Our full day in Venice was
greeted by blue skies and a cool breeze. Our students were in awe of this floating world and thoroughly enjoyed our morning tour which
included the Doges Palace and a glass blowing demonstration. We then filled the afternoon with a ride to the top of the bell tower to
see the incredible views of the Venetian islands, gondola rides, shopping, eating gelato, our scheduled 3 course dinner and a concert
featuring Vivaldi's Four Seasons! What a full day but profitable and enjoyable.
This morning we started very early by leaving the island and traveling to Florence, 4 hours south. We passed through mountains with
snow and arrived into Florence with light rain. We started with a museum visit to the Accademia to see "David" and then explored the city
and markets before a tremendous 4 course meal this evening -- our return to the hotel was in a downpour so we are drying out presently.
Tomorrow will bring a city tour and shopping before we journey on south.
This is the smallest team I have taken overseas (15), but we are enjoying getting to know each other and really loving the experiences we
are having. The group is working on a tour project -- I created an interactive task list for each city which will keep them occupied with
more than sight-seeing and gelato-eating!
Keep us in your prayers for safety and for the weather. Rain is predicted all week so we really would like to see the sun soon!
More news soon!
Craig Ralston, for the Italy team