Study Abroad Students Take Advantage of European Excursions

Marist's Florence Campus Provides a World of Opportunities for Students

When studying abroad, students often find themselves debating over what places to visit, what places to prioritize, and what they can afford. With the help of Marist’s campus in Florence, Italy, through the Lorenzo de’Medici (LdM) Institute, Marist students have the opportunity to receive two free trips throughout Europe.

Marist-LdM Study Abroad European ExcursionsFor the Spring 2016 semester, the choices were: Venice, Italy; Rome & Vatican City; French Riviera; Cinque Terre; Lake Garda, & the Alps; and Switzerland & Lake Como.

Prior to the start of the semester, Marist students accepted to the program were able to select two trips from the list on a first come, first serve basis and listed alternates in case their choices were already full. Once they were confirmed for the trip, they were sent information and itineraries detailing the excursions. Their trips included transportation, a stay at a 3-star hotel, and dinner.

The weekend trip to Venice was the first excursion of the semester, taking place less than a week after students arrived in Italy. It was the weekend of Carnevale, an annual festival where individuals don carnival masks and lavish costumes. Students were able to experience the festival along with a tour of the city provided by the school. Sights that were visited include the Bridge of Sighs, St. Mark’s Square and Basilica, and the Rialto Bridge. After lunch, students were given a private boat ride to the island of Murano, where they were able to visit glass-blowing factories, and then onward to the island of Burano. The following day, the students were taken on a tour of Palazzo Ducale and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, a museum showcasing contemporary art.

Two weeks later, LdM hosted the Rome & Vatican City trip, which garnered rave views from Marist students. Students were given tours of the most famous monuments in the city of Rome, including the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Arch of Constantine. Jon Goldberg ’17 spoke of his experience saying, “It was amazing being able to walk right into the Colosseum. All of the history that took place there thousands of years ago and it’s still in great shape.”

After touring Rome, the students were taken to Vatican City where they were able to see the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s Rooms, and St. Peter’s Square & Basilica. Goldberg’s favorite part was seeing the Sistine Chapel. “Being able to walk into there was one of my most memorable experiences of studying abroad,” he said. “And being in the same room where the Pope is selected was so cool.”

The next day, the students were able to see the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, and more sites throughout Rome.

Because they were with a school group, the students were able to skip the incredibly long lines to visit these historical places. It is for that very reason why Paul Ziter ’17 recommends the Rome trip for all students. “You’re there for less than two days and get to see EVERYTHING,” he emphasized. “No lines. No hassle. Awesome hotel. Awesome trip!”

Marist-LdM Study Abroad European ExcursionsWhile the Rome trip certainly seems the most talked about, it was the French Riviera trip that had the most students sign up. The weekend began in France in St. Paul de Vence, a small but beautiful village where students were given a tour and free time to walk around. Next, they were taken to Nice where they had the option of doing a two-hour tour or exploring on their own. The tour included Palace Garibaldi, Vieux Ville, and the Promenade.

Annie Callaghan ’18 loved the cultural aspect of the trip. “Since I had already been to Paris, I was able to see the differences in culture between the northern and southern regions of France,” she explained. “In the South, the food is different and is more Mediterranean and the people are more laid-back.”

The next morning, after a tour of the village of Eze, the group was taken to Monaco where they were able to see the Change of the Guard at the Prince’s Palace, and the area of Monte Carlo. “It was interesting to see so many differences in the architecture, and how it has changed over time,” Callaghan said. “Our guides were very informative and constantly told us about the lifestyles in all the places we went to.”

Only one week later was the next LdM trip, this time to Cinque Terre. Students were able to visit and hike all five towns in the region on the first day and were able to visit Santa Margherita, Portofino, and Portovenere the next day. “The hotel was the nicest one I’ve seen in Europe and only two minutes from the beach,” Ziter said. “A very organized and cool trip.”

While there were originally only six excursions available, a seventh one was added at the start of the spring semester for students, this time to Naples, Pompeii, and Capri. The students were given tours of all three cities. “Learning the culture of a civilization that died out hundreds of years ago was my favorite,” one student said. “Even though they are gone, we can learn things about their civilization by what we find today.”

Three weeks later was the sixth trip of the semester. LdM took students to Verona, Lake Garda, and the Italian Alps. Upon arriving in the region of Trentino, trained guides took students on a four-hour hike through the Italian Alps. The following day entailed a tour of the city of Verona, including visits to Juliet’s Balcony and the Amphitheater, and the town of Sirmione on Lake Garda.

While students thought both towns were beautiful, it was the hiking experience that resonated with them most. Nicole Curry ’17 described the experience as like no other. “Hiking in the Alps was one of the top moments in my life,” she said. “It was like I was in another world exploring the beautiful Dolomites with my best friends and so many other Marist kids. I promised myself I would make it back here again!”

The final excursion of the semester was to St. Moritz, Switzerland and Lake Como, Italy. Students were able to walk along the picturesque lake and visit the town of Bellagio, located right on the water.

After touring the town, the students were bused to St. Moritz, Switzerland where their hotel was located right next to Lake St. Moritz. A walking tour was provided right along the water for the students, which was Nicole Benedetto’s ’18 favorite part of the trip. “The lake was absolutely beautiful,” she said. “The pictures that I took didn’t even seem real.”

For Jessica Recce ’17, the best part of the trip was the bus ride home. “Driving through the Alps on the Bernina Pass on our way back to Florence was amazing!” she said. 

Written by Adriana Belmonte '17


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