St. Augustine goes Italian

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On March 24 the St. Augustine Travel Club left for their long awaited trip to Italy. After leaving Edmonton for a stopover in Calgary, we boarded plane bound for Frankfurt, Germany. From there we took another plane to Venice, Italy. On March 26th we began with a short ferry ride to Venice, which is a series of small islands off the coast of Italy. While in Venice, the students visited St. Mark’s Square, took a Gondola ride around the city and the Grand Canal, before touring the Doges’ Palace. Of course there was also time for shopping and tasting the local cuisine.

The next day the group hopped on a bus and headed south to the medieval town of Ravenna, where they had a guided tour of the Cathedral and tomb of the famous poet Dante. A day later it was off to Florence, the leather capital of Europe, for more shopping, plus tours of St. Mark’s Cathedral (4th largest in Europe), the Ponte Vecchio, and the Piazza Della Signoria.

On March 28th the group headed for a half day excursion to Pisa. It was our only bad weather, as it poured rain and thundered for a couple of hours, we toured the Baptistery, Cathedral, and of course, the Leaning Tower of Pisa. After a little more shopping in Florence on March 29th, the bus headed north for the Cinque Terre region, which are 5 of the most scenic coastal villages in the world. We were able to walk or take a 5 minute train ride between all of the villages, each with its on cultural sights, sounds, and views of the Mediterranean Sea.

On March 31st, we headed further north to the Lake Como region, where a magnificent view of the Swiss Alps could be seen as a background to the amazing Villas surrounding the lake. Before touring around the lake, we stopped at the village of Bellagio for some sightseeing, lunch, and souvenir hunting. Then as we cruised around the lake looking for George Clooney’s house, we saw the church where Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini was executed.

The next morning we were up at 4am for a bus ride to Milan, to catch a train to Rome. 3 hours after boarding the train we were in Rome and immediately began a tour of the Coliseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, and Trevi Fountain. Of course there was more time for shopping and for what had become our staple diet Pizza and Gelato (best ice cream ever) On the 2nd of April we spent another day in Rome for the much anticipated trip to the Vatican City. Here we had an amazing tour of Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, and finally St. Peter’s Basilica. After dinner that evening, we went for walking night tour of Rome stopping at the Spanish Steps, the Pizza Navona, and once again the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon.

The next day, April 3, we began our long trip home with a flight to London, then to Toronto. We had to spend a night in Toronto before coming home with all of our stories and souvenirs, but at least we got a good night’s sleep to adjust to the time change. Finally we arrived home on the evening of April 4th in Edmonton.

The St. Augustine Travel Club will be traveling to Paris, France and Madrid, Spain in 2012. Parents or students should contact Mrs. Beier for more information. Then in 2013 Mr. Josephison and Mr. Normandeau will be leading a Canadian Military History trip that will start in Berlin, stopping at a Concentration Camp, before moving on to Prague, Czech Rep., then heading back through Switzerland. Then they will make their way back into France with stops and Vimy Ridge, and Juno Beach in Normandy, before finishing the trip in Paris with stops at the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum, and the Versailles Palace (the former residence of Marie Antoinette, and location of the signing the Versailles Treaty to end World War I). Please see Mr. Josephison or Mr. Normandeau for more information as registration will begin for this trip before the end of the 2010-11 school year.

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