Lindy Goes to Italy!

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Nick Rippo, Editor

The Italy trip has been one of, if not the most anticipated trip in Lindenhurst Senior High School. Many students have been waiting since freshman year to go. On Thursday, February 13th, the Italian Club left for Italy.  After a long flight, and a layover in Frankfurt, Germany, the group arrived in the airport at Milan. Greeted by the tour guide Gabby, who gave interesting insights and detailed the rich history of Italy for the whole trip. As we traveled all along Italy’s narrow landmass, the bus driver, Salvo, received overwhelming acclaim from the students to a surprising and many times delightfully humorous degree.

The first few days the group stayed in the North. Starting with Verona, famous for being the home of one of Shakespeare’s most famous works, Romeo And Juliet, and known by many as the city of love. This was most fitting that it happened to be Valentine’s Day. The city was decorated to reflect this and it was the coincidental cherry on top of a great day. The group was guided through a series of narrow streets and grand piazzas.  This enhanced by the clear, pleasant weather and the comfortable Mediterranean climate.  After a Tour of the scenery and history of Verona, including the famed balcony of Juliet, the students were given ample time to wander the streets of the city freely.  After hours of exploration, and for many, the first time trying authentic Italian gelato, the group piled on the bus and traveled to Vicenza for the night. 

The next day, the group was headed for Venice, or Venezia as it’s known by Italians, one of the most famous cities in Italy, and also one of the most historically fascinating.  The floating city is built on wood long wooden piles, driven deep into the ground, in an area seemingly unsettleable. The city being the only one in Italy spared from the brutality of the Visigoths at the fall of the Roman Empire due to its isolated location.  After a long bus ride, and beautiful ferry ride on the coast of the Tyrrhenian sea, the group arrived in Venice. The timing was great to be there too, as Carnevale had just started and many people were walking around in interesting costumes, and the signature masks in Italy of Venice. After some time being guided through the fascinating, roadless cityscape, the group had the opportunity to witness authentic glass blowing that people from all around the world come for. Then it was time for more independent exploration.  The students all found places to eat lunch and later came back together for the most famous part of Venice, the gondola rides. Everyone separated into smaller groups and went on a ride through the serene canals of the city. Finally, the students toured the immense Doge Palace, full of enormous renaissance paintings, and the armor and weapons of the knights who once guarded the palace. And with that, as the sun was starting to set, the group got back on the ferry, and headed back to Vicenza for the night.

The group woke up the next day for a long bus ride down from Northern Italy, to Central Italy, through the region of Tuscany. The city of Florence, or Firenze in Italian, is known as the second most important city in Italy. When the group arrived they were separated into two smaller ones. Those going to see the Statue of David, one of the most important works of art in the world, sculpted by Michelangelo and those going to eat the world famous Florentine steaks.  After that was a tour through the streets of the city, with beautiful architecture and scenery all around. The city center was definitely the most similar to Manhattan when compared to the other cities, but the feeling of ancient and historical significance that radiates throughout Italy’s many cities remained. After a long day and the next morning spent in Florence, the group headed down to the small city of Siena. Siena is a college town similar in many ways to Florence, but with a much more chill, and quaint vibe in comparison. Some went to take a tour of a tall bell tower in the main piazza, but most just relaxed and spent the day roaming around the area which was a much needed rest after visiting the bustling city of Florence

Then was the most important city in Italy, and many would say the most significant in all of Europe. Rome.  This is also where the group went to visit the Italian students. When they arrived, they were greeted to a video presentation about Italians and Americans, and then sang and danced together.  After talking to the Italians and getting a tour of the school, the group departed, making its way to the Colosseum, one of the seven wonders of the world.  First to be traversed however was the beautiful ruins surrounding it, followed by a line in, and finally touring the Colosseum itself. History was learned, pictures were taken, and sites were seen as the Lindenhurst students walked through one of the most significant monuments in human history. Finally, the group headed back to the hotel for some much needed rest. Next, was the Vatican, a completely separate country (the smallest in the world) in the middle of Rome. In it was an unbelievable amount of history, that of a place that ruled much of Europe for a very long time as Catholicism spread in popularity during the middle ages. There was so much important art, including some of the most famous work by Michelangelo. There were countless  statues, giant murals of every Italian region, paintings on the ceiling that tricked the eye into thinking they were carvings, and finally, one of the most well known and recognizable paintings in the world. The Sistine Chapel.  With that we headed to the center of the Vatican for lunch and free time, then proceeded to a piazza in Rome for some free time, and a dinner of margherita pizza. Then a walk through the city to get to the bus and back to the hotel for some sleep.

Then was a drive down further south, through the metropolitan area of Napoli to Pompei. The famed city that was decimated by a volcano in august of 79 A.D. First was lunch, where some of the group went for free time, and others went to a restaurant. The ones who went to the restaurant were treated to pasta, calamari and shrimp, and the best pizza in Italy. Following that was a guide through the ruins of Pompei. The students learned of the history, the way of life, and the customs of the Pompeian people before the tragedy that befell them. The ruins were solemn, but fascinating and beautiful, and Mt. Vesuvius sat in the background, a long dormant, immensely destructive power, just waiting for the day when it’s centuries long built up pressure will be released again. Next was a drive along the most magnificent views the students experienced on the trip, and maybe even their lives, along the coast of the Gulf of Naples. When the group arrived in the town of Sorrento, they were given free time to walk around the beautiful streets, dotted with trees bearing huge bitter oranges. After some exploration of the city, the students went to a hotel in the city and were treated to amazing gnocchi with delicious orange sauce. The morning was a drive to an olive farm owned by Mr. Rossillo’s family. The group was given a great tour detailing the process of making olive oil, and were then themselves all able to buy authentic Italian olive oil. What proceeded was a continuous meal of many courses, encompassing both lunch and dinner. Pasta, meats, mozzarella balls, and lasagna that many said was the best they’d had in Italy were all had. Mr. Rossillo gave a great speech about the importance of “wanna” and then played the guitar as all of the chaperones sang to the students. Then was a drive back to Rome. The students visited the Spanish steps, beautiful as it was as the sun set.  And for the final site to see on the whole trip, the students visited the Trevi fountain. A superstitious place where they say if one throws 3 coins they will return to the Eternal City, find love, and marry. With that the students went back to the hotel, slept, and woke up to leave Italy after a long, amazing trip.

Seeing Italy and it’s amazing cities was a once in a lifetime opportunity that me and the rest of the students got to see. We are all very fortunate to have gotten to see such a beautiful country and see the lifestyle of the people living there”

— Hope Brush

Reflecting on the trip after it has ended, it was an extremely important experience. Many students even said it was one of the best weeks of their lives. One student, Pat Matthews, had this to say, “Italy was amazing and I can’t tell you the amount of places we went to and how each and every one of them had so much history and beauty behind it. What made the trip even better was having my friends next to me the whole time to share this once in a lifetime experience.” Anyone who went on the trip can corroborate that this was how almost every student felt, and the experiences that the group had were once in a lifetime, not just in the way that Italy is such an amazing place with so many things to see, but also in the companionship that was felt between everyone on the trip by the end of it. All of it was led by the infamous “Il Presidente,” Hope Brush, who described how she felt about the trip, “Seeing Italy and it’s amazing cities was a once in a lifetime opportunity that me and the rest of the students got to see. We are all very fortunate to have gotten to see such a beautiful country and see the lifestyle of the people living there.”  Lastly, Mr. Rossillo, the man all the students have to thank for the great trip they had the pleasure of going on had this to say, “The travelers grew everyday learning more about Italy and the Italian culture.  In all, everyone was learning more about themselves. Most of them have come home ready to travel again.  The journey has taught everyone a new way of seeing things. This group was a pleasure to go away with. The students were eager, sociable, punctual and appreciative of their experience.  They made the chaperones proud of the ambassadors they became. This group proved to me the words of Mark Twain that said, “one must travel to learn.” Our group made the most of the trip.”  With these wise words, it is clear the Italy trip was a truly special event that will be remembered by everyone for their whole lives.