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Life Changing Experiences

A Toast to the Amalfi Coast! – ON TOUR European Experience

A Toast to the Amalfi Coast! - ON TOUR European Experience

Imagine the sweet scent of giant Sorrentine lemons. Imagine the bluest waters dotted with sailboats and luxurious yachts.  Imagine the most delicious lemon or watermelon granitas. We left Rome behind and headed toward the Amalfi Coast! We couldn’t believe that this is where we were staying for the next three days. A huge thank you to Westcoast Connection for including in our itinerary what some trip members believe to be the most beautiful place in the world! After our busy touring days in Rome, arriving in Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast was a welcome change of pace.

Before our coastal getaway, we stopped at Pompeii, the famous site of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE. Trip members were able to tour the pristinely conserved archaeological site and imagine how the peaceful life ended so abruptly. Amidst learning cool facts about Pompeii’s drainage system, trip members took the opportunity to have a little photo shoot imitating the likes of The Beatle’s Abbey Road cover.

Our first full day in Capri was spent doing an island tour with a short ride to the top on the funicular. Unbeknownst to most of our trip members, the most stunning view awaited us at the very top. Stopping for lemon and orange slushies, our guide took us through the winding streets of Capri to the most gorgeous lookout point at the Augustine Gardens. A short photo shoot later, we had some free time to eat lunch, grab a cannoli or two and a scoop of gelato before heading back down the funicular to hop on our private chartered boat. With the sun gracing our faces, wind dancing in our hair and music playing over the stereo, we explored the beautiful grottos of Capri. We were able to jump in and take a refreshing dip in the water, not just once, but twice. After dinner that evening, trip members got to show off their dance moves at the disco, impressing locals and fellow tourists. Our staff had a hard time dragging them off the dance floor!

OT European Experience in PositanoThe next day we made our way to Positano, a little village in the hills of the coast.  We set up our home base on the beach under the many orange umbrellas and trip members had a chance to alternate between exploring the town, napping in the shade and splashing around in the Sorrentine Peninsula (a small section of the Gulf of Naples). Trip members raved about how quaint the village was and how amazing their lunches were. Some of them even said they liked Positano better than Capri! A tough choice to make between two of the most beautiful places in the world…

Although it was hard to leave the beauty of the Amalfi Coast behind, we headed off to our final Italian destination, Florence.

Leaving the coast behind, we travelled north to Firenze! The great Renaissance city of Europe, the city that arguably brought Europe out of the dark ages and into the modern world, and the next stop on our European Experience. For dinner, we weaved our way through Florence’s cobblestone streets to Piazza della Reppublica. We enjoyed ravioli, lasagna, seafood pasta and gelato, a typical night filled with delicious food. It’s going to be hard to leave Italian cuisine behind when we head back into France for the final days of our epic adventure.

The next day we walked through Dante’s favorite city to arrive at the Galleria dell’Accademia. The Accademia has housed an art academy since 1563, but is most famously known as the home of Michelangelo’s David. Our guide, Marcello, gave us some insight into Michelangelo’s life and creative process. He completed the David when he was only 25 years old. Marcello explained that Michelangelo used his chisel, hammer and drill to release what was already contained in the marble block. It’s safe to say that all that the ultimate Renaissance man accomplished before he was even 28 years old amazed our trip members. A true visionary, indeed! A short walk later, we found ourselves at the Ponte Vecchio, one of Florence’s many quintessential landmarks.

OT European Experience in Cooking Class

Ending our tour in the heart of Medici territory and a stone’s throw away from the Uffizi Gallery, trip members had the opportunity to explore the city.  What would a trip to Florence be without a visit to the leather markets?! We were all treated to a leather works demonstration where we learned the tricks of the trade and a few simple tips to determine real vs. fake leather. (Tip: the fire test is false! Real leather does burn!). That evening we had the privilege of making ourselves dinner at the Apicius Cooking School. Some of our trip members wowed us with their chopping, dicing, and pasta-making skills. Parents, we hope they will share what they learned with you when they arrive home! Over bruschetta, mushroom stuffed zucchinis, spaghetti and schiacciata Fiorentina (a Florentine cake for Mardi Gras) we exchanged stories from our time in the kitchens and memories of our trip thus far. Over all, a very successful culinary adventure! Check out our photos to see the feast we created.

Armed with our leather knowledge from the previous day, trip members made their way to the bustling leather market at Borgo San Lorenzo. Trip members regaled staff with stories of their bargaining adventures, the tricks they learned to get the best prices and showed off the purchases they had made for friends, family and of course, themselves. Later that day, a few of us headed to the Uffizi Gallery. The Gallery is one of the oldest in the world, founded in 1581 and houses works by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, and Rembrandt. Trip members were most eager to see Botticelli’s famous The Birth of Venus. We were amazed at the detail and stunning colors that Botticelli was able to capture on canvas.

Florence ceased to amaze us with its abundance of art, culture and history. If Rome wasn’t built in a day, than Florence definitely wasn’t either! Grazie, Firenze for an incredible three days.

Ciao for now,

The Westcoast Blogger

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