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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

Ending Our Program Right! – Florence Pre-College Enrichment

florence pre-college enrichment blog 4 photo 1

On Thursday, our last day of classes, some students visited a synagogue and the Jewish museum of Florence. Everyone completed their final evaluations and waved goodbye to the Florence University of the Arts. We’re all very proud of our accomplishments over the last few weeks!

florence pre-college enrichment blog 4 photo 1In the afternoon, students enjoyed their last free time in Firenze. To end the night on a high note, we had one final group dinner in this city; a three-course meal at a unique restaurant in the heart of the city. Of course, some students made a final gelato run at our go-to location before closing, and we’ll definitely miss it!

On Friday morning, we took a bus to the Tuscan countryside and enjoyed the spectacular views once more. We toured a castle that once belonged to the Pazzi – and later to the Medici – family. We learned that it’s still inhabited by a family related to the Pazzi family today. They run a wine, olive oil and reception business in order to keep the castle in the family and continue to call it home. The story about the family and how they came to own the castle was definitely an interesting one!

Si, Sorrento!

On Saturday morning, it was time to pack all of our bags into the bus and say goodbye to Via Ricasoli and Firenze. We were both sad to leave the place we’d been calling home for the last three weeks and excited to explore new places! We boarded our private coach from Florence to Sorrento. It gave us a chance to catch up on sleep and downtime while also marveling at the Italian countryside and, of course, ahh-ing and ooh-ing as we passed Mount Vesuvius! Upon arriving in Sorrento, we were immediately wooed by the small town charm. We started our beach vacation with a group dinner at a delicious restaurant, where we sampled many different regional cheeses.

florence pre-college enrichment blog 4 photo 2On Sunday, we took a ferry to Capri and saw the birthplace of our favourite appetizer, Caprese salad! Here, we took the funicular to the town center and had a short walking tour of the city to find the best viewpoints. After lunch, we took a boat tour all around Capri and saw the other islands on the coast. We also had the chance to visit some grotte and jumped off the boat to swim in the sea. We had an absolute blast, with some saying this was their favorite activity! We finished off our day with another wonderful dinner in Sorrento.

Monday was a well-deserved and much-awaited beach day. We took a ferry to the picturesque resort town of Positano and, as always, made sure to find the best lookout point. We took time to marvel at the colourful houses lined along the cliffs as we ate lunch. Later, we spent the afternoon lounging by the beach and soaking up the sun and sea.

All roads lead to Rome

On Tuesday, we were back on the road towards the Italian capital! We interrupted our journey to Rome with a short stop in Pompeii. Here, we visited the town destroyed by an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and buried in ashes for thousands of years. We were amazed to see how much of the town was left and to learn more about people’s daily lives during antiquity. We visited the remains of shops, homes, and the antiquity equivalent of fast food joints (yes, really!). After a few more hours on the bus, we made it to Roma! We were all excited to be back in a big city and to visit so many iconic places. To kick off our roman holiday, we visited the Spanish Steps and wandered the high-end fashion streets in the area. Many program members visited a tiramisu restaurant after our trip leader Alex’s recommendation. He wasn’t wrong – this may have been the “best tiramisu in all of Italy.” Later, we walked over to Piazza Navona and had supper by the lovely fountain. It was the perfect start to our Roman escapade!

florence pre-college enrichment blog 4 photo 3Our first full day in Rome began with a visit to the Trevi fountain. We made sure to throw in our coin for good luck and a guarantee that we would return to Rome in the future. Some people took advantage of Trevi’s supposed powers, and threw in the other two coins for love and marriage! Our next stop was the Pantheon. Some program members went into the church and admired the open ceiling, where the daylight shone into the room in a magical way! After lunch, we channeled our inner romano / romana and strolled along the fashion streets of the city. We ended the afternoon with a visit to the Borghese garden. Here, we had a peaceful moment by the lake to reflect on all the wonderful things we did over the last month! Finally, we visited one last piazza for supper and had the chance to see a fire juggler perform on the street.

Our final day in Rome was packed with bucket list items! In the morning, we left Italy and entered the world’s smallest country, Vatican City! Here, we met our tour guide and visited the Vatican Museum and Sistine chapel. We marveled at the intricate artwork on the ceilings and Michelangelo’s paintings. We finished our tour in St. Peter’s basilica – the largest cathedral in the world! After a quick lunch, we made our way to Rome’s most famous building, the Coliseum. We got to see and walk on the same ground that Roman gladiators once walked on! We stepped back in time and imagined what it must have been like so many years ago.

They say that when in Rome, one must do as the Romans do. Therefore, it was a given that our time here had to end with … a toga party! We got all dressed up for one last group dinner with a live performer! We celebrated our time together and laughed at all the funny moments we’ve accumulated over the last month. We also highlighted “best of’s” with awards. We have so much to tell you about when we get home!

We’ll see you all at the airport. Ciao Italia! Grazie per un mese incredibile!   (Thank you for an incredible month)

Thanks for reading!

The Westcoast Blogger

Interested in learning more about our Florence Pre-College Enrichment program? Check out the 21-day and 28-day programs to see what’s right for you!