Saturday, February 25, 2012

Roma -The final day

Today was our final day to see the amazing eternal city - Rome.

Everyone woke up had breakfast and we left early for Rome. When we arrived, our guide Claudia took those that wanted on a tour of the hot spots....Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps and Piazza Navona and the fountain of four rivers.

After that, the students were on their own for lunch and had a 2:00 check in at the Spanish steps. Then the afternoon was before them to explore an established route in Rome, in groups. They spent the day shopping, and site seeing. The weather was amazing (we understand West Haven had a bit of winter weather) We all met again at Piazza Navona at 5:45 for a great lasagna dinner at a local restaurant.

We would like to thank our amazing bus driver Stefano and our incredible guide Claudia....They were outstanding.

On our way back to the hotel now....ready to pack and have some down time before bed......Long travel day tomorrow!

Arrivederci a Italia.

Perche lo faciamo? Perche amiamo farlo!!
Why do we do this? Because we love this stuff!!

On a personal note - Mrs Maher and I could not be prouder of the great young ladies and gentlemen that we had on this tour. While kids will be kids, everything they were offered and shown was met with a please and thank you with appreciation for this incredible opportunity. We hope that they saw a lot, learned a lot and found an appreciation for the rest of the world. We hope that the travel bug has bitten and that they will never lose the desire to explore and see everything. For those of you that trusted us with your most cherished possession, we thank you for the confidence you had in us. We cannot thank our co-chaperones Joe & Lynn Bonaldo for their incredible assistance with this tour. This was the largest group we have ever taken and could not have done this without them.

Until tomorrow......

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rome-day 1

Rome -Day 1

We checked into the hotel last night.... Spent the evening hanging in the lobby and then bed check at 11.

Another early wake up day - 7:00am. Off and running by 8:30. We arrived in Rome center and began our day with a whirlwind tour of the Vatican museums...We saw tapestries, sculptures, and wonderful archictecture all within the walls of the Vatican. After the museum we entered Michelangelo's masterpiece, the Sistine chapel where we were all explained the history fothe paintings and the uses of the chapel now as a house of worship as well as the location of the Papal Conclave that takes place within 12 days of the death of the current pope, in order to elect a new Pope. After spending a while in the chapel we proceeded on to the most incredible church in all of Rome, St. Peter's Basilica where we saw the famous Baldacchino designed by Bernini, the may sculptures, Michaelangelo's incredible dome and his sculptural masterpiece, The Pieta. Once we left the Basilica we were able to see the famous Swedish guards in action escorting a special guest of the Pope through the crowd...very exciting then we entered the ever reconizable St. Peter's Square. After some lunch on our own around St. Peter's we hopped on the bus for a tour of the Coliseum and Roman Forum..... We were on awe of the incredible architecture and history of this historic area of Rome. After some free time in the area of the Roman "wedding cake". We boarded the bus once again for dinner. Saltimbocca and a tipical roman dish "cacio e pepe" (pasta with cheese and pepper).

Back to the hotel now.... for the evening and a day in Rome tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Florence, Pisa and Assisi

Great free day in Florence. Everyone was dropped off at the Piazza della Signoria....where we all saw the statues. Everyone went their separate ways (for all the parents, they were in a close area in groups of no less than 4 and the tour director was within calling distance all day and direct contact with all chaperones with frequent check in times).

Some went on museum visits, to see Michelangelo's David, to see the incredible art and architecture and of course SHOPPING!

That evening we had a surprise for everyone and arranged a nighttime trip to the leaning Tower of Pisa.... How exciting to be so close to one of the wonders of the world!

Back to the hotel and bed for another early wake-up.

We woke early this morning and were off again in the bus to the beautiful city of Assisi. We got there and took the bus up the long hill to the city....We took the remaining trip from the parking to via escalator and walked through this amazing place and had lunch on our own. The group then took a tour pf St. Francis Basilica by a franciscan friar. We then boarded the bus again and were off to our our hotel outside of Rome to rest up for a whirlwind tour of the Vatican museums, St. Peter's Basilica, the coliseum, Roman forum....So far this has been terrific!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Firenze -day 1

Blog Day 3

Up "bright" and early for our trip to Firenze......

Firenze, known by us as Florence is an ancient city which is the birthplace of the 14th century's most incredible artists authors and scientists.....Michelangelo, Leonardo di Vinci, Dante, Galileo, Amerigo Vespucci, and others were born here around the same time.

We arrived in Florence and were walked to the ancient Piazza della Signoria and had lunch in various locations. From there we had a guided tour throughout the historic center of Florence..We saw the Medici Palace, the Uffizi museum, the Ponte Vecchio, the location where Michelangelo lived and much more. We finished in a leather store to see how Florentine leather is treated.

Back on the bus now headed for Montecatini Terme for the night and then return to Florence for a free day tomorrow

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Carnivale in Venice

Blog day 2

Carnivale in Venice!!!

It is Holy week and just like we have Mardi Gras int eh United States, There is Carnivale in Italy.

We woke VERY early (6:00 am) and proceeded to breakfast. The we hopped on the bus and were brought to a water taxi port where we rode a water taxi across the lagoon to the artsy island of Murano - home to the most exquisite gas furnaces in the world. Master glassblowers have, for centuries, created the most magnificent glass creations. Once we arrived on Murano, we were brought to a showroom for a glass blowing demonstration.. In the short period of time we watched a glass master create a beautiful vase and a wonderful sculpture of a horse. Then were, of course, brought in for a sales pitch and were shown even more amazingly beautiful items.

After shopping in the showroom, we got back on the water taxi and went on to Venice. St Mark's square on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday and only be compared to Times Square on New year's eve. Thousands of people were there to celebrate while folks in exotic and highly artistic costumes paraded around and posed for pictires.

We had a guided tour of the most signifcant locales in the area after which we proceeded to lunch on our own and an afternoon of shopping and people watching....At 3:00 everyone checked in with Margi and Sean in St. Mark's square and spent the last 2 hours close to our final meeting point.

After this incredibly long and full day we returned to our Hotel (Portifino) had a wonderful dinner of spaghetti in red sauce, pork, and italian cream cake for dessert. Early rise tomorrow as well followed bu a 4 hour trip to Florence and an overnight on Montecatini.