Each year our Summer in Switzerland program offers both a cultural trip to France and Italy. Follow along below to read about last year's trip to Italy. If you'd like more information on the offerings for this summer, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to apply now? Click here!
Wednesday July 15th
The day started bright and early as we left the school campus and travelled down the mountain, towards St. Bernard and the tunnel to cross into Italy.
We stopped for coffee and croissants just before the border and entered Italy with the sun already high in the sky. We were going past Milan and onto Venice. We stopped for our picnic lunch near Verona and reached the bridge, which crosses over to Venice by mid-afternoon. We discovered there was a ferry to the Lido where our hotel was situated and so were very happy to enter Venice by water. The ferry went past the main island and we were able to admire the spires and domes of the horizon.
Once on the Lido we quickly found our hotel and settled in before going exploring. Our main aim was to find a place to have dinner and how lucky we were. We found a wonderful open-air restaurant run by people who happily accomodated our group of 19 students and 3 adults. We walked to the beach and saw where we would go swimming in the Adriatic. That evening after dinner we ate first of our many ice creams and discussed with the students our plans for the following day.
Thursday July 16th
After an excellent breakfast we set off to catch the vaparetto (water bus) from the Lido to Murano. We had to go via Venice to change boats and so had the opportunity to see more of the coastline. When we got to Murano we found the Scuola del Vitro where we had an exhibition of glass blowing.
It was extremely hot and the glass blowers told us how the temperatures of the smelting went up to 1000 degrees. We watched fascinated as the lumps of molten glass were blown and twisted into shapes making vases and delicate glasses. We then sat down and watched a video, which told us the history of glass blowing.
After this, we went to catch a vaparetto back to the Lido, stopping first for a cold drink. Once on the Lido we gave students lunch money and then arranged to meet them for our afternoon excursion to the main land to attend a mask painting class.
The vaparetto we took went past St. Mark's Square and we saw the tourists thronging the area, we did not stop to visit there at that time because we were off to have our class.
The masks in Venice are very much a part of their culture. Before Easter every year there is the carnival in Venice and people take the opportunity to dress up and wear masks, disguising their appearance so they can have fun. The students were able to choose which masks to paint and after a two hour class had some marvelous examples to take home to show their parents.
Back on the Lido again we went back to the hotel before meeting to go back out to dinner at the restaurant we had discovered the evening before. The students chose whatever they wanted to eat and enjoyed very much the chance to taste new types of pasta and pizza toppings.
The evening ended with more ice cream and watching the sun set over the Venetian skyline, which was a wonderful sight.
Friday July 17th
Another bright morning, the heat already rising as we took the vaparetto to the Academia the museum, which houses a wonderful exhibition of paintings, frescoes, and icons. The students were all asked to choose two paintings, which they particularly liked, so that they could talk about them and tell us what had stood out for them. The result was some fascinating discussions as to who liked what and why!
After an hour in the museum, we left to walk across the Academia Bridge, in the direction of St. Mark's Square passing the Rialto. The students were excited to wend their way down narrow streets looking at the window displays, which show cased the wares of every kind of Venetian items for sale.
The crowds got thicker and thicker and we had to keep stopping to ensure our group stayed within sight of one another. When we finally reached St. Mark's Square we saw that a whole section has been cordoned off for the concert which was to be held the following day to celebrate Venice's special feast day, alwasy held on the 3rd Saturday in July.
We broke up into groups, some to go into St. Mark's Cathedral and some to go and have a gondola ride. The students had to pay for themselves to do this, but some wanted to explore the smaller canals in this way. When we met up everyone seemed to have enjoyed their experiences despite the heaving crowds and the heat.
We went back to the Lido and rested before taking the students swimming. A small group did not want to swim and so they went with a teacher back to St. Mark's Square to do more sightseeing. The rest of the students walked with us down to the beach, which was so crowded that we realized very quickly we needed to keep them under our eyes at all times. The sea was so warm it was like being in a warm bath and so not much relief from the heat. A group of the yound people bought a beach ball and a couple of hours passed quickly as they played in the sea. We all met up again and went off for more ice cream before we changed and got ready for our final supper in Venice. Once again, we ate well and having had a final walk around the area we went back to the hotel and packed for our early start.
Saturday July 18th
We got up very early and having taken a packed ferry which was to take us back to the bridge which crossed to the mainland. Once on the autoroute to Florence we stopped for coffee and later on a quick lunch before arriving at the hotel just after 1pm. Having settled in we took the students on an orientation walk around the Duomo and showed them the Tower and the Cupola. We then walked around the Straw Market before going back to the hotel to change for dinner. Several students wanted to go to Mass and so we found a service in English, which we could attend. This was in the Cathedral and it gave us an opportunity to gaze at the beautifully decorated dome.
We walked down through the crowded streets past the Bargello and onto the Piazza dei Signori. From there we went onto the Ponte Vecchio and to the restaurant we had booked for dinner. We sat down to eat a delicious 4 course Italian meal starting with bruschetta, followed by pasta, then meat and finally a dessert.
The students all took up the challenge to find their own way, in groups of three, back to the hotel. We were happy to meet them all there half an hour later...
The group were tired after a long day and quietly went to bed.
Sunday July 19th
After a good night's rest and an excellent breakfast we walked down to the Uffizi Gallery. Despite the early hour the place was already full of tourists. Luckily we had pre-reserved our tickets, and our group were able to bypass the queues. Once again we told the students to find their favorite pictures and to look out particularly for the Boticelli and the Michelangelo "Holy Family". Both these pictures were displayed in the long gallery and the students all had the opportunity to gaze at these masterpieces with colors so vibrant it was difficult to imagine they had been painted so many years ago.
After a surfeit of culture we walked back to an artisanal ice cream parlor where the students were able to choose from a huge variety of flavors. They ate their ice creams whilst watching a video as to how the ice cream was made.
That afternoon, after a lunch break and a rest, the students went to the Leonardo da Vinci museum where they saw machines and instruments created by the master. Back to the hotel to change and then off across Florence again winding our way down to the Piazza Strotzi before crossing the Ponte de la Trinita and going to the InTavola Cookery School. There we were greeted by the Master Chef who, having made the students tie up their hair and wash their hands, preceded to show them, how to prepare a delicious meal. They made a special Italian hors d'oeuvre of bread and tomatoes, followed by a fettucine with sauce and ravioli with sage. The students made the pasta and created a sauce to accompany the dish. They made a panna cotta pudding with chocolate and raspberry. Having eaten their meal we set off once again back to the hotel. An excellent way to end our Florentine experience.
Monday July 20th
A leisurely start saw us finally packing all the belongings up and getting into the bus to travel back to Switzerland and back home. We stopped on the way for a final Italian lunch just after Genoa and then crossing once again through the tunnel and entered Switzerland in the early evening.
We dropped off the students and teacher who were returning to SIS second session, and went on to Geneva. We finally reached our hotel and despite the lateness of the hour, went out for a final dinner together. We all ate pizza or pasta and reminisced over all we had seen and heard over the last few, fun packed days.
A late night but excitement in the are because everyone was packing for the last time and were finally going home.
Tuesday July 21st
In groups, after breakfast, our LAS drivers took the students in the small vans to the airport. There, teachers accompanied them until it was time for their flights home. Much hugging and exchanging of emails and phone numbers and the students departed for their home countries after a fantastic Italian experience.