BIS secondary students have just returned from their annual study tour, this year to Tuscany, Italy. There were 52 students accompanied by 4 teachers and 2 guides. While driving through the Tuscan land, vast fields dotted with vineyards and typical Tuscan-style houses caught our eyes and made us immediately fall in love with this part of Italy. Plains alternate with hills and mountains. Not a single inch of land stands bare and unused. This is an area of gorgeous landscapes, rich artistic legacy, cities which stand witness to masterpieces of human mind and hand. In eight days they visited eight medieval towns.
In Siena we walked around the Piazza del Campo and learned about the famous Palio horse race. We had some free time to explore on our own, so we got some gelato (of course) and walked around the Piazza.
In the village of San Gimignano; known for its many towers, we enjoyed wonderful views of the countryside. We had the award winning gelato (the best in the world) from Gelateria Dondoli near the main square. The mango gelato was one of the best things I have ever tasted in my life – cold, creamy, completely mango-infused deliciousness. Yum.
We also visited Verona. Shakespeare placed star-crossed lovers Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet in Verona for good reason: romance, drama and fatal family feuding have been the city’s hallmark for centuries. Never mind that Romeo and Juliet were completely fictional characters, and that there’s hardly room for two on the narrow stone balcony: we flocked to this 14th-century house to see the tiny balcony and add our names to the graffiti on the courtyard causeway.
Certainly one of the highlights of our trip was a whole day visit to Gardaland. Wow. Many students had an adrenaline ride on every rollercoaster, fantasy rides and water-rides. There is a great fast food restaurant and smaller ones all over the park.
The day ended with the medieval dinner at Movieland. We went inside a mediaeval castle, where an exciting jousting tournament awaited us in the company of King Astolfo and his knights, followed by a banquet. All of us got crowns at the entrance and found our seats in the arena shaped restaurant. There was a show going on during dinner and we actively participated in it. Four Knights, and Esquires, with the help of standard bearers competed in games of horseback skills, and fight in an attempt to win the hand of the princess. The strength of cheering for our Knight, certainly affected the outcome of the tournament. Ana even got a rose from one of the knights. The King himself invited us to take a seat at the luscious banquet cooked all for us, guests of the Kingdom. The big surprise was that we had to eat with our fingers and the food was delicious.
The trip to Cinque Terre, or “the five lands” that comprises five villages, was the one our students liked the most. Not even bad weather we had on that day could ruin their glory. We took the boat to get there and returned by train.
The Rotonda di San Lorenzo, the thousand year old church and Basilica di Sant Andrea Impressive and stylish: designed by Alberti were the places we visited in Mantoua.
Bologna was another delightful city we visited on our tour. It was the liveliest given the fact that the oldest university in Europe was located right in the heart of the city. Our students were impressed by the fact that famous people like Dante Allighieri (14th century), Nicolaus Copernicus (15th century) and Umberto Eco (20th century) studies at the University of Bologna which was ranked inside the top 200 in the world.
In Florence we saw the Doors of Paradise, the Duomo, and Michelangelo’s David, Ponte Vecchio, one of the icons of Florence and paid a visit to the Uffizi Gallery full of iconic paintings and sculptures by Giotto, da Vinci, Raphael, Caravaggio, Titian, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Rembrandt, and Rubens. Including the Birth of Venus and much more! We enjoyed the ornately decorated ceilings and sculptures lining the corridor as well. Incredible experience indeed.
On the last day we visited fabulous Venice.
This was the official report on our amazing trip.
At nights, after dinner, our students organised parties and had great time. It was a fantastic experience to all of them especially those who visited Italy for the first time.