By Dani Cronin
What could be better than spending spring break in the beautiful cities of Rome, Florence, and Venice? Visiting those Italian cities with your best friends! This past April break, students involved in the Byram Hills art department had the opportunity to spend their vacation exploring Italian museums, cuisine, and scenery. The eight-day trip, booked through EF Tours and run by art teachers Mrs. Menache, Mrs. Karlin, Mr. McMichael, and Mrs. McMichael, allowed 21 students to explore the foreign country with ease!
Aftlongngthy overnight flight from JFK Airport, the group landed at their first stop: Rome. They spent three days in the city, visiting historical landmarks such as the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and the Spanish Steps. They even toured religious sites including the Vatican and the Catacombs. The students were able to shop during their free time, and of, course indulged in eating cannolis and gelato! Junior Tatiana Geller said her favorite part about Rome was “getting to explore the city and get a closer look at the shops, people, and culture.” Mrs. Menasche agreed, adding that one of the many amazing things about Italy is how old an new coexist. “Turn a corner in Rome and you’ll see a 2,000 year old ruin next to a gelato shop. And there are so many layers of civilization- Renaissance on top of Medieval on top of ancient.”
Next, the group arrived in Florence, where they spent three days visiting famous museums, including the Uffizi and the Academia, learning about the city, and admiring its beautiful buildings and churches. Everyone especially marvelled at the Duomo, an extravagant church in the heart of the city. Junior Sophie Maniscalco commented how “moving the churches were, even for those who might not follow Christianity. It really gave us a sense of the history and culture of Italy, and it was interesting to see how religion and culture are so intertwined.” In addition to museums and churches, Florence is also known for its leather and jewelry markets, in part because of the Medici family and wealth accumulated here. The group members explored leather markets, jewelry stores near the Ponte Vecchio, and took in the beautiful sights of the city.
Lastly, the group parted with Florence and traveled to their final hotel, located a boat ride from Venice. Their last full day began with a Murano glass blowing demonstration before arriving in the city. Once they got there, they were met with beautiful waterways, bridges, and pastel-colored buildings. “Every corner we turned was more stunning than the one before, and everything was so vibrant and lively,” expressed sophomore phoebe Miles. They took a tour of the Doge’s Palace, photographed St. Mark’s Square, took gondola rides through the Grand Canal, and wandered through the city’s narrow streets.
Although the cities were incredible, the people are also a large part of what made the trip so memorable. “I have made so many close friends in the past week that I know I’ll have forever” exclaimed Tatiana. Sophie agreed, stating that “being able to see the world with your friends is such an amazing opportunity. There is really nothing like it!” Everyone was sad to say goodbye to Italy and their wonderful tour guide, Stefania, who had been with them since the first day. However, the friends and memories everyone made in Italy will certainly be with them for a lifetime.