Friday, July 10, 2009

The Alps

We left Venice on Monday. It is a beautiful city with interesting things to see on every corner. However, I don't think anyone was sad to be leaving, especially since the weather was turning much warmer on the day that we left. Good bye to all the wonderful waterways, beautiful old buildings, and the mosquitoes!

We met Christian, the on-site UNH in Italy Director, at the Venice Airport and boarded our charted bus to head north to the Italian Alps (the Dolomites). After a few hours driving we took a one hour break in the winter sport resort town of Cortina (home of the 1956 Winter Olympics and filming location for one of the James Bond movies.) After another hour we arrived in the small town of Sesto. What a beautiful place. Our chalet looks across to a beautiful snow covered mountain peaks.

Sesto is very close to the Austrian border. So, the language and foods are more German than Italian. Breakfast and dinner are served at the hotel - Great food!

First day highlight was a short hike to a refugio (a mountain hut) where the students had a cooking demo and lunch. I didn't go on this hike so I'm a little short on the details.

The next day involved a longer hike with a stopping point for the kids. Jessie and I stayed with the younger kids and hiked back to the bus stop where we took the short ride to the hotel. Steve set up lunch for us on the patio of the porch! Christopher and Alexander stayed on with the students and did a great job on the hike.

Piero and Christian took an alternate route down the mountain. I understand that it was a bit more rugged, but it took them past some WWI bunkers in the mountain. Cool!

Day 3 in the Dolomites involved a bike ride on a beautiful bike trail that runs from the town of San Candido, Italy to Lienz, Austria. This unique bike trail is 44 km (about 27 miles) and cuts through a valley surrounded by breathtaking mountains on either side. Our bus met the biking group in Lienz. After a few hours of roaming/lunching in Lienz we spent some time viewing the extensive art gallery spread throughout Bruck Castle in Lienz. It dates to the 15th century with its foundation dating to the 13th century.

Day 4 had us saying good-bye to the Dolomites and heading south to Ascoli Piceno.
We stopped along the way for a few hours in Ravenna where Piero and Steve took the students to the Basilica and to the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia. Ravenna is well known for its amazing mosaics. Jessie, Karen, and I headed to the park with the kids. It was about 100 degrees - a big difference from the Alps. Christopher, Matteo, and Joe had the right idea and jumped into the fountain in the park.

On to Ascoli - where we arrived at app. 9:00pm - a long day of travel that began at 8:30am. All were shown to our apartments - a new adventure begins - living life in a real Italian city!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Venice - Part 2

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

First Entry - Venice!

Today, our first full day in Venice -

The Morrell, Garofalo, and Brunet familes arrived in Venice yesterday - safe and sound. The weather was beautiful upon arrival, sunny, but not too hot. The water taxi ride from the airport was awesome, but wet, for all the kids sitting in the back of the boat. We were delivered directly to the front door of the hotel which faces the Della Ca' Bac', a small canal, in the Academia section of Venice. The hotel is quite comfortable and is located in an area of Venice that is not too crowded.

Our first dinner included pasta for all, plenty of great bread, and, of course, wonderful vino. We were reminded of Durham when the rain started after dinner. But, we managed to enjoy our gelato under the cover of a store front canopy.

After a good night's rest, some of us woke in time for calazione (breakfast) at our hotel. Of course, the coffee and hot chocolate (with extra sugar) was delicioso and the rolls and croissants were not bad at all.

Piero and Jesse are off to the airport to meet the students! Let the summer begin!