Fountains, Funiculars and a Ferry on the Road to Florence – ON TOUR European Experience

What a week it’s been! From Rimini we made our way to Rome, where we started our night with some time near the Pantheon. We then broke off into groups for dinner at Piazza Navona, where everyone got a taste of what Italy has to offer. We then had some gelato by the Trevi Fountain, as no dinner is complete without a little dessert! To finish off the night, we went up to the hotel rooftop which was a great place to get an incredible view of the city from up top. The next day we went to Vatican City, where we had a great private tour with our guides. After lunch near there, we headed to the Colosseum. It was great to be able to see such historic sights. After working up quite the appetite from sightseeing all day, we headed to the area of Trastevere for dinner. Everyone enjoyed seeing the different areas of Rome, especially at night. The next morning we headed to Campo Dei Fiori, where the trip members ate lunch and had free time to explore. After fueling up for the day, we were ready to head to the Borghese Gardens, where we got to overlook the city of Rome and hang out. We then walked to see the famous Spanish Steps, where the trip members got the chance to walk around the area and take pictures. Clearly, there are endless photo ops when walking around Rome! For dinner we went to a traditional Roman style dinner and toga party.  All the trip members were very excited for the chance to wear togas, and sing and dance along with the performers. Some of the trip members even got the chance to play with some musical instruments!


​The next day we left Rome and made our way to Sorrento, where we celebrated Aly O’s Birthday! On our way to Sorrento we stopped to see the ruins of Pompeii. It was great for trip members to see first-hand the site of a major volcanic explosion, and for most it was hard to grasp that it was in fact a city under ash. For dinner, groups got to choose their own restaurant in the town of Sorrento. We then gathered everyone together and went to a local live music venue.  One trip member, Max, even got up on stage and sang with the band. Everyone had a great night!

The next morning we made our way to the Island of Capri, being lucky enough to take a funicular to the top of the island. We walked to the lookout point at the Augustine Gardens to take great pictures over looking the island and the sea.  The trip members had free time for lunch, where many of them purchased the best cannolis in town. After lunch we went on a boat tour where we got to see both the Green and Blue Grottos. We also got the chance to jump off the boat and swim in the water. It was quite refreshing on a hot Italian summer day! After the boat tour we made our way back to Sorrento via ferry. After dinner, the group went to a local disco, where the trip members had fun dancing and singing.

The next day, our travels took us to Positano, where we had a great day hanging out and swimming at the beach. The trip members had the opportunity to walk around and explore the town as well. Although it was a relatively short stay, the beach time was perfect relaxation before heading back to Sorrento for dinner, where we went to a local restaurant. Yummy! To finish off our night we went to a karaoke club, where most of the trip members sang, and all of them were dancing! It was a great end to our time in Sorrento.

DSC04288We then said our goodbyes to this Italian paradise and headed to Florence. Once we checked into our hotel, we walked to the leather market, as there is no better way to experience Italian culture. After dinner, we hung out in a piazza watching local singers perform on the street. The following morning, we made our way to a lookout pointwhere we were able to see the whole city of Florence. It was truly a magnificent sight. In the afternoon the trip members got the chance to walk around near the Duomo Cathedral and explore Florence. Having plenty of dancing practice, we ended our night after dinner at the famous Space Electronic disco, where we could put our moves to the test!

The next day started with a guided tour of the Accademia Gallery, where the famous David statue resides. It was great for trip members to see it up close and personal, most having only seen it on postcards! After lunch, the trip members had the chance to actually climb up the 463 steps to the top of the Duomo Cathedral. Many trip members did it and had a great time! The view from the top was definitely worth it. We then headed to an evening at cooking school, where the trip members learned some Italian techniques in the kitchen. Everyone had a great time making pasta, bruschetta, crepes, cake, and more, and the food was delicious! Safe to say they’ll be cooking you dinner when they get home! It was a fantastic way to end our time in Italy!

The Westcoast Blogger

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 […]