From Siena to Cinq Terre – Florence Pre-College Enrichment

Eppur, si muove!

By Thursday and Friday each student had started to notice small idiosyncrasies about the city of Florence, and the students’ free time was filled with curiosity and self-discovery. The Digital Photography was actively working on shooting and editing photographs related to fashion, and some students, like AnneMarie, have even started a photo blog on Tumblr where they post their top photographs. Across town, Cooking has learned how to whip up panzanella e bruschetta al pomodoro, and journeyed through a bakery tour where they tasted different types of breads and pastries.

For many individuals, Friday was one of the highlights of the program for multiple reasons. In the morning everyone went to see Michelangelo’s Statue of David at the museum, Galleria de Academia. Our museum and city tour leader, Marchello, was quite a vibrant character and knew tons of information about Florence’s history and the families that once ruled the streets. Who knew that Michelangelo died the same year Galileo was born? And who knew that da Vinci and Michelangelo hated each other, but created the Mona Lisa and the David mere blocks from each other at the same time? Trust us, Marchello is a walking encyclopedia and functions like the Florentine library with feet.

PCE Florence in Tuscany

Further, Friday evening’s energy was cosmic as the students dressed-to-impress for Space Electronic disco, which is a prominent discoteca. After a delicioso group dinner at ZaZa’s, we all went to go strut our moves on the giant dance floor. As we walked into the disco, the music surged through our bodies and the beating bass intensified the atmosphere.  Many students displayed some stellar dance moves. It was apparent that everyone was having fun, and there was not a lugubrious student in sight.

After a quiet morning at the Residence, we all boarded the bus to the historic town of Siena for a day of exploration. Once in Siena, the students embarked on a photo scavenger hunt and had to navigate themselves through the city to seven landmarks and plazas. As the students traversed the hilly streets, they were able to see remnants of the Palio di Siena, which is a biyearly horse race between ten of the original city wards. Imani, Emily, and Meagan were the winners of our challenge and all groups came back with hilarious photos!

A little later in the afternoon, Darren, Emily, Ethan, Hannah, Sam, James, and Imani, took on a challenge and climbed the Torre de Magnia in the Piazza del Campo, and witnessed spectacular Tuscan views from the top of the bell tower. Surrounding Siena, rolling hills create picturesque settings and the images that the students captured are impeccable. That evening, all the students found superb restaurants and shared stories of the wonders within Siena.

PCE Florence in Tuscany

The following day was just as exciting, and the students hiked and discovered the marvels of Cinque Terre. A large group of students hiked from Vernazza to Montorosso al Mare, and were lauded for their tenacity. Callie and other students noted that they weren’t quite sure how difficult the hike was going to be to Montorosso al Mare. However, after they completed the undulated and rugged terrain, they were very proud of what they had accomplished because it was such a hard trek.

Like in Siena, many students captured scenic shots that illustrate the beauty of the Italian Riviera and Cinque Terre’s five villages. Throughout the day, many students relished moments of relaxing on the beach, and some even took advantage of a water taxi that transported them to-and-from the five villages.

We are all very excited for the upcoming week! We have new recipes to cook, new photos to shoot, new community service goals, and more to learn about Italian culture.

For now, tutto é bene che riesce bene!

The Westcoast Blogger

Incredible First Days in EATaly! – Florence Pre-College Enrichment

Eppur, si muove!

Eleven hours after leaving New York, our entire team felt the rays of the Italian sun melt onto our skin and the excitement started to begin. The energy was palpable, and everyone was ready for the adventure to begin. Although slightly jet-lagged, smiles and chatter filled the bus as we headed into the heart of Florence toward our Residence on Ricosoli Street next to the Duomo of Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fior. Within minutes, new friendships started to develop and past friendships began to rekindle. The best summer was about to begin!

​Hungry and eager to eat some delicious Italian food, every student explored the Marceto Centrale and ordered lunch from various shops. An abundance of gelato, pizza, sandwiches, and pasta filled the giant building and the aromas floated throughout, and everyone successfully ordered their first meal. Full and tired, everyone was ready to lie down for some much deserved rest.

PCE Florence in Photography Class

​The following morning the students became acquainted with the city of Florence. Each of the program leaders directed a tour and allowed the students to navigate the city with maps. As suspected, there were some fun moments of confusion within the small Italian streets, but every group was able to find their way toward notable landmarks like the Piazza della Repubblica and the Basilica of Santa Croce. In addition, the students were able to take stellar photos of the historic sites, themselves, and their new friends in the beautiful Tuscan setting.

​Over the past couple of days the students have been very busy in their classes at Florence University of the Arts. In the morning the students have been taking their electives: Italian Culture, Community Service, and Independent Workout. We learned in Italian Culture that the Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge not to be bombed in World War II, and that the jewelry shops that now occupy the bridge were once all butcher shops. The students involved in Community Service recently met with elementary aged Italian children, and have started to interact and teach them English. The Independent Workout students have discovered over the past two days that Italians do not work out in gyms as frequently as their American counterparts.

​In the afternoon a cacophony of sounds can be heard from the streets, and the students blend into the crowds of people learning about the culture. On Tuesday, Ruthie, Jenna, and Caylee came back to the Residence raving about the delicious pizza from Gusta Pizza and the phenomenal flavors and savory taste.  Many of the students are discovering local eateries, and the dialogue between students about where the “best food” is located is becoming a big conversation.

PCE Florence in Cooking Class

​Also in the afternoon, students are taking their Major Class of either Cooking or Digital Photography. We really enjoyed Digital Photography and most said, “Class is fun because we learn how to edit, and are allowed to explore the city to take photos.” On the other side of the city, students have been cooking pastas like uova al pomodoro, spaghetti aglio e olio, and fettunta e frittata di zucchini. Every student in the cooking class has highlighted that they cook copious amounts and they always leave class full.

Tutto é bene che riesce bene!

Ciao for now,

The Westcoast Blogger

Amazing Race Through Florence – ON TOUR European Experience

After three days in Italy’s capital city of Rome, everyone was excited for the relaxation and sunshine awaiting us yet another beach town: Sorrento. Located on the  Amalfi coast of Italy, we were stoked to visit the famous island of Capri and the the coastal towns of Sorrento and Positano. Everyone was astounded by the […]