Italian Students Explore Italy
June 12, 2012
Filed under 2011-2012 edition
A group of ten excited West Milford High School students and several adults departed from Newark International Airport en route to Rome, Italy on April 5, 2012. Six hours later, they departed the plane, boarded a tour bus and their 10-day journey began.
First stops? The Coliseum and the Roman Forum, which lie in ruin thanks to the popes who ransacked these treasures in times of need. Though they were tired, students were duly impressed. Late in the day, students checked into their hotel, grabbed quick showers and 20 winks, and headed back to the Coliseum for the Stations of the Cross ceremony and mass held by the Pope. An impressive first day.
One their second day in Rome, students toured St. Peter’s and the Sistine Chapel and then went to the banks of the Tiber River where Castel Sant’Angelo stands. This is the site of Hadrian’s Tomb which was later made into a military fortress and, finally, a castle where popes often sought shelter from invading enemies. An underground tunnel leads from the castle to the Pope’s apartments in St. Peter’s Basilica.
From Rome, the group travelled to Pompeii. This Roman city was buried during an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the year 79 AD. A treacherous bus ride took the students to the top of Mount Vesuvius, where they could view the valley below. It was here that Signora Certosimo’s Italian cousins met up with the group. They spent that day getting to know the Highlander students. It is rumored that they left baskets of authentic mozzarella, fresh focaccia, rich chocolates… everything the group needed for a true Italian picnic.
Next, the tour headed north to the medieval town of Assisi. Here they visited the Tomb of St. Francis and took in works by the painter Giotto. More art was to be discovered in Florence, the birth place of the Renaissance. Students were mesmerized by the beauty and size of the statue of David. Florence also provided the group with their first shopping opportunity. At a leather shop, students modeled the goods and were given a lesson on the quality of gold pieces. Afterward, they had time to explore the city, sample the gelato and dine on “melt-in-you-mouth” steaks and homemade pasta.
The final stop on the tour was the city of Venice. Here the group ran into rainy weather, but Signora Certosimo, the group leader, could not have been happier. “I have always wanted to see Venice in the rain. It just adds to the mystic feel of the serene one – an endearment for Venice,” Signora Certosimo explained. First up was a gondola ride through the canals of the city. Then it was off to Ducal Palace. Traditionally, Venice was one of the few independent republics in Italy. It was never ruled by a pope,but rather by a duke. As a result it became a rich and prosperous city. From the Palace, the students trekked across the Bridge of Sighs. This bridge served as the passage way into the prison until WWI. For many it was the last look at the free world; hence its name.
Signora Certosimo shared that this was an excellent trip. While she learns something every time she goes, her favorite part of such student tours is watching the students experience the language and culture, seeing the pleasure and satisfaction etched on their faces as their study becomes reality. The Signora concluded, “It is a fulfilling experience for me and a life changing experience for many of the students.”