Continued from Student Trip to Europe: Part 1…
Check out this quick video for an overview of our first two days here in Italy:
Our time in Switzerland had unfortunately come to an end. The group and I met at the train station bright and early 7 am. We took our last train ride down the mountain and hopped on the bus, where we would start our journey to Italy.
The first pit stop we took was at Lake Como, where the students were given free time to explore. Cathedral de Como was one of the must sees, along with a famous to-go pizza slice place right beside of it.
One of my favorite places was our next pit stop along our route to Venice, which was at Lake Garda. We stopped at Sirmione and took a boat tour around the peninsula. It was a beautiful day out on the lake and the beach was filled with vacationers. Our boat driver took us under an incredibly tight drawbridge at the Scaligera Castle (which you can see in the video up above), that only one boat can go through at a time. We were able to get a full 360 view of the castle from the lake.
After docking and unloading from the boat, Frank (our tour director if you hadn’t read Part 1) gave us a quick tour of the town center of Sirmione and allowed us free time to shop and explore. Where do you think I went…?? To the castle!!!!
We ventured up a staircase that lead to the walkways above the walls of Scaligera Castle. It was a 13th century fortress, totally surrounded by water, that played a huge role in the defense of Lake Garda.
After our free time ended, we headed to our next hotel in the Venice Region. Hotel Villa Giulietta was located on the outskirts of Venice, near Padua. The students were able to experience their first three course Italian meal at the hotel, with pasta, bread, pasta, pasta, and gelato for dessert! The downside to this hotel, and what everyone quickly began to miss about Switzerland, was that there was no air conditioning (and if you did have it in your room, it was broken) — and we had to pay for wifi. Huge adjustment from the first two days…
Day 4 started off dreary and rainy as we began our trip to Venice town center. By the time our bus dropped us off to meet our water taxi, it was pouring down rain and we had to purchase ponchos and umbrellas to protect our bags and phones. My shoes and socks were drenched…welcome to Venice, right? But we didn’t let that ruin our day! We took a water taxi to the island of Murano for a glass blowing demonstration, where they taught us the history and tradition of Venetian glass. This fascinated the students as the instructor made a glass horse right in front of our eyes, using only a handful of tools. We were allowed time to browse the Murano shop to admire all the glass. Chandeliers hung in the shop for upwards of 30,000 euros…they were incredible!
Finally, it was time to head to the best part of Venice! We met our local guide who led us on a walking tour. She was the cutest venetian, who hummed and sang into the microphone while she walked. Living in Venice her whole life, she has seen first hand the impact that tourism has had over the years to her city. She explained how people get around without cars, with such tight spaces, and especially if you live on the fourth floor of a building with no elevator. We also learned that because there are so many people in Venice, and such little space, it is common for them to seem rude and pushy without saying excuse me as they make their way through the streets. She gave us a heads up on these little things so we wouldn’t be surprised later in our day (and I’m glad she did, because we were pushed and almost ran over by workers with their delivery carts multiple times).
Following the walking tour, we met up with Frank, who gave us strict instructions on when to meet back at St. Mark’s square.
I led my group to the famous Rialto Bridge that is so often seen in movies. As we made our way there, I taught them how to read the “road” signs and markings on the buildings for directions. We were following the signs to Per Rialto and if they got lost, they were to follow the signs back to Per San Marco.
It was a beautiful, sunny day, which made for awesome pictures from the bridge once we arrived. We ate lunch at a nearby cafeteria as a group, then split up for some to go shopping and others to explore.
Doge’s Palace and Bridge of Sighs was next on my to visit list. This is one of the main landmarks of Venice. The apartments and rooms inside of the palace were beautifully designed with wonderful architecture and golden designs. As we walked over the Bridge of Sighs to the prison cells, you could look through the peep holes at the canal below. The New Prison, also part of the Palace, was a never ending maze of tiny cells. I thought we’d never make it out of that tiny, enclosed, underground space!
While the rest of the group went on gondola rides, I toured Venice some more and enjoyed an afternoon Aperol Spritz (a typical for the locals).
We finished our day back in Venice at St. Mark’s Square, followed by our travels back to the hotel for dinner and rest. Time to pack and head to our next destination for day 5 — Florence!
Check out this map of the ground we covered in these 2 days. Our students were real troupers for being on a bus this long!
Thanks for reading part 2 of our overseas adventure! Be sure to follow or subscribe below or to the sides to see what’s next 🙂