Amalfi Coast Wonders & Splendors of Rome – Backpack France, Switzerland, Italy

Ciao from the last two stops on our amazing adventure around Italy. We arrived a short while ago in Sorrento, which gave us access to some of the most beautiful islands in Italy. On our first day, we checked in to our beautiful hotel and spent the afternoon by the pool. Grace, and Dani discovered iced coffee by the pool, while Gustaf played classical music for the boys on the pool deck. We then headed out to dinner at Fauno bar where we sampled home made gnocchi, gluten free pastas, and Matt B.’s personal favourite- steak. Ira led us around the town of Sorrento after dinner, stopping to take in the breathtaking sites from various viewpoints. Kat and Jane took pictures overlooking the Mediterranean and then we continued on to explore the marketplace, and street vendors.  After our walk, we headed to Karaoke, where Jess and Katie belted out High School Musical, and we finally got to hear a taste of Danny’s incredible voice. Lily and Maddy led the dance party, while Benji and Grant made some new friends. Jolie, Stella, Jane, Taylor, and Caitlyn tried out the masks that they bought in Florence, and had their own artsy photo-shoot.

The next day we visited the most beautiful island many of us had ever seen- Capri.  We began at a viewpoint overlooking the sea, and then sampled some of the island’s best cuisine from a little bakery. Grant devoured his cannoli, which was filled with fresh cream and candied fruit pieces. After some free time to explore the island we all went down to the shore for our private boat cruise around the Amalfi Coast. We were very lucky to have a private guide give us a tour of the coast, which was covered in beautiful turquoise waters. We visited caves and grottos, and Kat was so excited when the guide told us that we would have a chance to swim into the grottos. We jumped off of the boat into the crystal clear water and had a chance to swim around and explore the caves. The boys took many action shots jumping off the boat, which will make for some great Facebook cover photos! After our swim, we headed back to Sorrento for dinner, and a night at the Disco.  At the Disco, the boys swarmed the dance floor when Jupiter by Gustav Holst came on, and Jess and Katie were excited when their favourite French pop song was played. After our dance party we headed to bed, excited for the day to come.

Backpack France, Switzerland, Italy

The next morning we visited Positano, a beautiful beach town, where we were able to relax and play in the sand for a day.  We discovered a pizza shop that delivered to the beach and Jake devoured his margarita pizza happily. On the ferry back, Gustaf entertained the boat crew as he sat and read his book with his Venice mask on, which has now been accepted as a perfectly normal part of one’s outfit. On our last evening, we arrived at a scenic restaurant with fresh lemon trees just outside the window, which Jenn found out was called “The Magical Garden.” We then set off for gelato and were amazed by the creative street performers on our way back to our hotel, including a man who appeared to be sitting in mid air. Danny had some ideas about how this was possible, and Lily made friends with the headless performer in a top hat.  We then headed back to our hotel to get some sleep before our journey to Rome the next day.

And so we arrived in Rome, the very last city on our exciting trip.  On our initial journey into this captivating city, we stopped to explore the ancient ruins of Pompeii. The first thing we noticed was how hot the Roman climate was. Gustaf informed us that Mount Vesuvius is over 10 000 years overdue for an eruption. Luckily, the guide proved him wrong! We strolled through the town of Pompeii, taking in the sites of old homes, shops, fountains, and business centers. Dani discovered a dog roaming the ruins, who hid out in the ancient brothel to avoid the Roman heat.  After our tour we headed on to Rome where we checked into our hotel before setting out. On our first night we visited the Spanish steps, and then visited the Trevi Fountain. We played a game that night where we were each given a line to use at dinner before each sentence such as, “But first…let me take a selfie,” which Katie recited multiple times.  Jess made the noise of a car engine before ordering her meal, and Jake C. repeatedly had to ask for the ingredients in a Bolognaise. Dani couldn’t get enough of her steak, so she ordered two, which the table happily helped her finish! Jolie, Jane, and Taylor happily ordered gnocchi which they had been craving since Sorrento. We then went off to the Trevi Fountain where we tossed coins into the fountain, to embrace the Roman tradition. One coin means you will return to Italy, two coins means you will find true love, and three coins promises marriage. Lily, Maddy, and Gustaf threw multiple coins in order to practice their aim, we will see if the legends are true! Stella and Kat opted for some gelato before we headed home, which proved to be an adventure in itself!

The following day we set off with our tour guide Cornelius to see the famous landmarks of Rome. We explored the Ancient Ruins, followed by the Vatican, and the Colosseum. Jake C. explored the Roman bookstores, where we was found engrossed in a book called the Gladiators of Rome. While waiting for the city bus, Jolie, Kat, Jane, Caitlyn and Taylor bargained with a street vendor for toys which they were very excited about, and named, “Goujah.” Danny navigated our way to dinner in the town of Trastevere where we enjoyed delicious bruschetta and homemade ricotta ravioli with sage and butter sauce. On our last day in Rome we headed to the Catacombs, where we met a very enthusiastic guide with a great accent! We were so excited to arrive in Piazza Navona, where we marveled over three colossal fountains. The girls decided to go all out, with a three-course meal, before we rewarded ourselves for all of our travels with unique-flavoured gelato. Matt S., Matt B., and Gustaf then headed into the Pantheon and were amazed by Gustaf’s knowledge of this historic site. After resting up at our hotel, we headed to dinner at Papa Rex, where we were given togas to wear while we ate a traditional Roman feast, presented in fiery offerings, to the tune of Roman opera singing. Things got very exciting when the musical entertainment began to interact with us, pulling us up to dance. Jason was the star of the night, re-enacting the Titanic theme song, while Grant worked hard to avoid his fifteen-minutes of fame. In more of a Spanish-fashion we were taken on a Roman Conga line through and around the restaurant, followed by a Horah in the middle. Eyes began to swell with tears as the realization of our last dinner together set in. Lilly kept telling us how she has had the trip of a lifetime, and is so grateful to have met such great people in such a beautiful country. We are now at the airport saying goodbye to all our friends. This has been an amazing trip, and we are so sad to see it come to an end. We are sure everyone will have many stories to share, and we look forward to keeping in touch!!! Miss you all!

The Westcoast Blogger

Loving the Almafi Coast with Pre College Enrichment Florence!

Buongiornio!

We’ve had a great few days here in Italy! Florence is officially behind us, and we’ve spent the last few days on the beautiful Amalfi Coast.

On Saturday morning, we packed up and left our residence forever – farewell, Via Ricasoli! One notable stop was the city of Pompei in the afternoon: we got a comprehensive and very informative guided tour!

We then spent three nights at the lovely Hotel Michelangelo, which was just a short walk away from the water and the boats that would take us to our various local destinations. Many of us missed the familiarity of our Ricasoli residence, our home away from home, but Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast welcomed us warmly. We began a wonderful new adventure!

After settling in on Saturday night, we trekked out for our first Amalfi outing on Sunday morning: the island of Capri. We all agreed that this was one of the most beautiful sites of our program, and maybe of our lives! We had a guide to show us the island, and she pointed out the most beautiful views, fanciest hotels, and finest restaurants, and we all ate lunch (and most of us indulged in frozen lemonade, an Amalfi signature item) on the island before taking the boat out and swimming around the island and through a grotto. So refreshing! Almost everyone got in the water at least once and had a great time, but Marcus and Nicole C took it to the next level and did synchronized flips on their way in!PCE Florence

Then, on Monday, we spent most of the day on the beach in Positano, which felt a bit like a pleasant throwback to our day at Cinque Terre on the first weekend. Everyone got to relax and unwind: Alex R, Emily S, and others enjoyed the warm ocean water, while Alex P, Ally, Sophie, and Dylan opted for rafts and sunbathing. And one group had a special surprise at lunch: Jordan L, Griffin, Nicole G, Olivia L, Alexa M, Arielle, and others ended up eating lunch at the same restaurant as NBA star Chris Bosh! Carly S also saw him and was super starstruck! Needless to say, a good time was had by all.

We’ve also celebrated three birthdays in a row since our last post: Buon Compleanno to Griffin (Monday), Ben (Tuesday), and Max (Wednesday)! The festivities have made our final days in Italy that much more special.

On Tuesday morning, we left our Sorrento hotel and the beachy paradise of Amalfi for our final destination, Rome, where most of us originally arrived in nearly a month ago. Stay tuned for our final post when it all wraps up on Friday!

Ciao!

 The Westcoast Blogger