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March Break Abroad: Ciao da Roma!

March Break Abroad: Ciao da Roma!

Ciao da Roma!

Blyth Academy students had a busy day traversing through the Italian capital, also commonly referred to as the Eternal City. With each step taken, we are transformed by various historical periods from the Renaissance to Antiquity. If you look one way, there's a Bernini statue... turn the opposite way and there's the Colosseum. Eternal, indeed!

Our day began with a well-deserved sleep-in and breakfast before venturing out into Rome. We were first introduced to the Roman metro system as we made our way to Piazza di Spagna for the famous Spanish Steps and the starting point of Rome's luxury fashion district. Students gazed at some of the larger and more well-known brands from Valentino to Fendi before the glorious Trevi Fountain for photos and coin tossing.

We continued to make our way through the streets of Rome, passing several distinct churches and visiting the Pantheon, home to all ancient Roman pagan gods. Stepping inside is a true wonder as we gazed at the oculus and the height of the dome - a true ancient architectural marvel which would have later inspired Brunelleschi in Florence (spoiler alert).

Before breaking for lunch, we stopped to gaze at the column of Marcus Aurelius in Piazza Colonna to learn more about the rich history and notorious stoic philosopher/emperor. Within a stone's throw away we were greeted to the idyllic Piazza Navona, an ancient Roman racetrack and marketplace which boasts picturesque views of the formal papal palace and surrounding storefronts. 

Students then broke off into groups for lunch and light shopping before making our way back to the hotel while traversing through Trastevere and stopping off at the Mouth of Truth, made famous by the 1953 feature classic, Roman Holiday

Tomorrow morning brings us our grand tour of the Colosseum followed by a visit to the Vatican. We will then make our way to Florence on Friday with stops along the way to Sienna and San Gimignano before resting for the weekend in the capital of art, culture, and the Renaissance.

Yours in Rome,

Nicholas, Principal Blyth Academy Mississauga

Letter #2


Today was yet another busy, adventure-filled day as we ventured into the heartbeat of Rome. 

Our morning began like any other with a standard Italian breakfast filled with one-half cakes and pastries, a spattering of fruits, and assorted meats and cheeses. Food is but one part of the culture, and we have already been introduced to some of the finest and most traditional Italian cuisine. I know I speak for the chaperones when I say that the pasta carbonara from the night before will forever go down in history as one of the most delectable.  

We were once again greeted by Marlene, our charismatic and witty tour guide, who took us down to the Colosseum for our morning tour of Rome's most notable landmark. Prior to entering, we were given the mythological founding of Rome between the rival feud of Rome's founders, Romulus and Remus, as a precursor to the history that we were about to be immersed in.  

Approximately two hours were spent in the Colosseum learning about the various gladiatorial battles, queasy stories, and endless history that forever transcends beyond the textbook. At one point, the lands surrounding what is now the Colosseum were originally part of Emperor Nero's man-made lake, which was later destroyed after the fall of his treacherous reign. The stadium was later built under the Flavian Dynasty to provide entertainment and a show of imperial prosperity. 

Peering down into the arena, we could see the various trap doors where animals and gladiators from across the Roman Empire were imported for the crowd's entertainment. Students passed through the various displays on the second level as they asked questions and took several hundred photographs. As we walked through the interior ring, students found countless opportunities for picturesque moments used through the framing technique of the arches. 

We all broke for lunch near the Vatican before making our way into the independent city state for our tour of the museums and St. Peter's Basilica. Marlene continued to share stories of the various pieces collected throughout time with a detailed illustration of one of the most famous frescoes in the world, The Creation of Adam (Sistine Chapel). Students continued to enjoy their tour throughout the Vatican as we made our way through the Gallery of Maps while admiring the colourful suits of the Pope's protectors, the Swiss Guard. 

From the Vatican, we made our way back to the hotel, got ready for dinner, took a relaxing break, and packed for the day ahead. Some of us went out one last time with Mr. Minicucci to admire the Trevi Fountain at night with gelato and various souvenirs... I even stopped for a pesto pizza. 

Tomorrow brings us an early morning in a new city. Before settling in Florence, we will make two stops in Sienna and San Gimignano, two medieval cities with rustic charm and fervent landscapes on our way to Tuscany. Onward to the Renaissance!

Yours on the road, 


Letter #3


It was yet another busy travel day as we went from town to town in the Tuscan countryside to take in the views and reach new heights - literally. We departed Rome early this morning, equipped and ready for our next adventure on our comfortable, giant red bus. With bags packed and our luggage loaded, we embarked on our journey to Siena.

Upon arriving, we were greeted by our guide Donatella who brought us into the ranging hillsides and steep streets of the picturesque town. Siena is a fortified medieval city most popularly known for its famous horse race, the Palio di Siena. Each summer, the seventeen districts of Siena race for the championship, a tradition that has since been ongoing since the 1600s.

Everywhere we turned a new landscape emerged as we walked up and down the many alleys and main streets of the city. One of the city's key marvels was that of the Duomo di Siena with its many painted frescoes, some of them left untouched from preservation and various sculptures from the Italian masters of Michelangelo and Donatello. We then took a stroll down to the Campo di Fiori prior to breaking for lunch.

Traveller's Tip: When in Siena, take a stroll over to Pretto Prosciutteria located within a stone's throw of the city center. This is a local hotspot with fresh meats and cheeses sliced directly and arranged into a fulsome charcuterie platter. A lunch well deserved by the chaperones, indeed.

After our visit to Siena, we marched up to the scenic town of San Gimignano, a rustic medieval town known for having the best gelato in all of Italy. As we approached the city gates, we were taken aback by the stunning views of the Tuscan countryside below us, ranging from fields to vineyards and villas. Being known as having the best gelato would be a hard stake to claim, but it’s no wonder given that all students surveyed gave a double thumbs-up. 

With another long day of travel under our belts, we arrived at one of my own most cherished cities in the world, Firenze, the birthplace of the Renaissance. As we disembarked, students were brought into the lively culture and ongoing nightlife that is Florence. Walking through Piazza della Repubblica with our luggage in tow, we were harmonized by a live band while gazing at the carousel as we made our way to the hotel. 

We all sat down to what was quoted as the best dinner yet, a variety of Napolitano pizza served at each table with plenty to bring back. Students then broke off into groups and had the chance to explore the local hotspots from Piazza della Signoria to Repubblica. There is much to fall in love with Florence, and we are all invested in what has yet to come… some of us may never leave.

Tomorrow we will start the morning with a walking tour and free time in the afternoon for shopping and local sites before dinner. Consider this a relaxed weekend in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Vostro a Firenze,


Letter #4

The day started peacefully around 7:30 am as I got out of bed nice and early to feel the fresh Florentine wind. I slowly made my way down to breakfast to find my roommate already there, so we discussed plans for the day over a lovely blood orange juice. As we finished up, we headed back to the room and packed our things for the day, grabbing a water bottle, wallet, and bag - all the needed things.  

We headed down to meet the rest of our smaller group who were munching away at croissants and enjoying themselves. Next to our table was Ms. Woolson who discussed the itinerary for the day among other plans. Saturday included a tour with some downtime before dinner, with additional time to explore after dinner. 

Mx. Catania got us all together and we met Leonardo, our guide for the day. We went to many monuments and local piazzas to learn a lot of historical knowledge and facts about how the city developed into the capital of the Renaissance. I learned about the many markets where there are fresh fruit and vegetables, which I really enjoyed. Along with the tour, we saw an actor playing the role of Dante as we passed by the historic Italian figure's house. Dante is known for modernizing the Italian language and writing The Divine Comedy. 

We finally got closer to the river and learned more about the Ponte Vecchio and the Vasari Corridor above. Did you know the bridge was built to prevent the Medici from being harmed while moving from their offices to their palace? The bridge used to be the medieval meat market but was transitioned to goldsmiths and merchants because the Medici didn’t like the smell wafting from the butchers. 

After this, we headed out to find an adventure in our smaller group consisting of Sofia, Anna, Maggie, and River. We explored the streets of Florence until we reached an area that had no real tourist attractions. We found a supermarket to get the real Italian experience and decided to head back to make it in time for the bell tower and grab lunch along the way.  

We returned to the Ponte Vecchio and made our way to the Basilica of San Lorenzo where we found what appeared to be a bazaar which sold plenty of leather, among other items. We then headed into the central food market which had the most amazing and intricate foods and ingredients, including dried fruits and other cuisine items, including a strange pack of brains! It was amazing and felt so magical. I obviously got pizza because when I’m in Italy, I eat real pizza.

We headed back to the hotel to fulfill some rest time until we headed to the Duomo and the clock tower. As we entered the Duomo, we immediately noticed the round size of the interior which didn’t seem that large compared to the Vatican, but it was imposing and magnificent, especially the art.  

Then it was time for the arduous peril of the clock tower climb. We started and the path up was fine until we hit the second set of stairs and the passage started to become narrower. The view at the top was amazing. It was strengthened by the imposing dome, which even from the same height looked imposing. The way down was a difficult task, but we made it just in time for the 5 pm dinner check.  

After dinner, we signed out in our group to explore nearby. We laughed, talked, and feelings of freedom and exploration filled our hearts. We then decided to overshoot it and head to the Ponte Vecchio where a violinist with amazing talent and skill played for the crowd with the lights reflecting on the water accompanied by beautifully carved buildings illuminated in the city's light. 

Lucas M., Student

Blyth Academy - The Glebe

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