In 2006 (long time ago! so many great memories) I went on the school art trip to Italy.
This was the most amazing experience for a 16 year old, and one that I will never forget.
I spent 2 weeks living with a host family in Torino, Piedmont. Then we toured around Italy for the last 10 days.
During the first 2 weeks in Turin, I stayed with a host family, the Tonarelli's who lived in the middle of the city. My host sister was Giulia, my host father was Adriano and my host mother was Paula. I still keep in contact with Giulia. They were like a true family to me in those 2 weeks. They are my Italian family! During these 2 weeks, I attended school with Giulia, which was very interesting, then the rest of the time was spent with my Australian school group.
It was great to see what the Italian schooling system is like. Giulia would attend school from 8:30am until 1am, and would go to school from Monday through to Saturday (I thought that this was rather odd!). Each day we would come home from school and Giulia would make a homemade pasta for Lunch,
and then her family would show me around the city, or we would catch up with her friends.
Each morning I met up with my school group to catch up. I loved living with the Tonarelli's, they were such adorable hosts, so friendly! They wanted to learn English, and I wanted to learn Italian, so we spoke both Italian and English to each other.
Adriano was like a tour guide for me, showing me all around Piedmont. He showed me many things, such as the River Po, a palace near the River Po (which I cannot recall the name of, but it is now apparently used as a police training station), the Borgo Castle (this is a little replica medieval village, which contains the 'fountain of youth'), the theatre museum, the shroud of Turin and many other things.
With the Tonarelli's we spent a weekend in a gorgeous little countryside town in Piedmont, called Niella Tanaro. We stayed with Giulia's grandparents, who were so friendly. They had the most beautiful country village, with a backyard full of fresh tomatoes. The food they cooked was amazing, I ate the tastiest lasagne ever!!
On the weekend, our school group looked at the
Savoy palaces on one day (my favourite was the hunting palace, which was absolutely stunning!) and we also went to Mont Blanc another weekend.
Mont Blanc was gorgeous, and the fist time I have been to the snow, yay! We officially crossed the border to France, quite special. We took a cable car to the top of Mont Blanc and witnessed some absolutely amazing views. Many great memories from Mont Blanc. On the way back to Turin we stopped in the little town of Aosta, where I had the best Hot Chocolate I have ever tasted. This town was so cute!
In the second and third week we went to Venice, Pisa, Florence, Milan and Rome. How lucky were we???
First stop was Milan. We only spent a day here, but well worth the long bus ride! We got to see the Last Supper, which I was so excited to see after reading Dan Brown's 'Da Vinci Code'. I could not believe how well restored this painting is, and how big it is!! What a gorgeous peice of art work :) Was amazing to see. We also visited a little monestary close by, which featured some stunning architecture
and a gorgeous little courtyard.
We then saw the Duomo, which is an absolutely enormous cathedral. I think that this is one of the most beautiful buildings I saw in all of Italy. We first went inside to see some amazing artworks and statues, and then went up a flight of stairs, to stand on the top of the Duomo. Amazing views from here! (although a bit scary, seeing as how high up we were). We did not have time to go shopping, but we did get to go to a museum which was all about Leonardo Da Vinci and his inventions.
Next stop was Venice. Such a pretty place at night!! Venice is so interesting, and one of my favourite places in the world. Their main form of transport is what is known as a 'Vaparetto', which is like a water bus. It was funny to see speed limit signs everywhere, just like the real road, but on water! We stayed in a youth hostel, which was quite basic, but we only slept there, so was not a problem.
Every night we went to a new restaurant, had some absolutely delicious food, pasta by far being my favourite
We saw a concert of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, which was held in a little old theatre. This was a great experience, we were nearly the only people there, and we in the first few rows, so were very close to the violinists.
Highlights of Venice included:
-Murano island (where they make Murano glass)
-The Dodges Palace
-Shopping (of course!)
-Best little pizzeria ever
-Penny Guiggenheim museum (this was definately my highlight!)
-The Grand Canal
We then went to Florence for a couple of days, which was by far my favourite city. Absolutely rich in history and culture (not to mention the best Mango gelato I had on the trip!). We stayed in a very nice hotel, which served buffet breakfast everyday (so many croissants with any filling you can imagine - nutella, custard, cream, jam, you name it!). Florence is home to the rennaisance, so is full of art galleries and history.
-the statue of David
-The gold markets
-The leather markets
-Ponto Vecchio bridge
-Shopping, shopping and more shopping :)
-Many more things
We then moved on to Pisa, which was a
stop along the way to Rome. Obviously we had to stop here, because what would a trip to Italy be without getting photo 'pushing' the Leaning Tower of Pisa?
-Leaning Tower of Pisa
-Lovely gourmet picnic lunch on the lawns
Our last and final stop was Rome. La Citta Eterna!! Rome in my opinion was rather dirty, but many landmarks to explore.
-Day trip to the catacombs
-Hop-on-hop-off bus tour
-Night tour of the beautiful sights of rome
-Lots of cats!
-Lots of red roses
This trip will always be a great memory for me!!
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