By Tommaso Villa
William Peace University student, Tiffany Camperos, is looking forward to the upcoming summer trip that WPU has planned for May where they will be traveling to Europe.
“I want to go in with an open mind and learn about new things, see the world from a different perspective and just ultimately enjoy this unique experience,” said Camperos.
This is the right spirit to have when anticipating an experience like this one. But what should students do once they are actually there?
The visit is going to take place across three countries: Hungary, Slovenia and Italy. Most of the trip is going to take place around some of the most beautiful cities in the boot shaped country, though Venice and Florence will be the highlights of the journey.
They are two incredibly fascinating and historically rich locations, but they can also be extremely dispersive. Since the traveling students will have a limited amount of time to freely explore these places, here are a couple of tips that are going to help them get there and not waste any time.
Even if you are not among this year’s travel group, you never know; you could find these suggestions helpful for a future trip.
The students will arrive in Venice on Tuesday, May 19 and will be visiting the most famous buildings of the city. Piazza San Marco (the main square), which contains the Basilica (cathedral) and Campanile (Bell Tower). They will then move to the Doge’s Palace, former residence of the old republic’s supreme authority.
The students will be able to explore the city by themselves on the following day, May 20. What should they mostly be looking for now that the main “attractions” were already visited?
Venice is a big city and is famous for not having roads and cars. The only way to move around is by foot or the different types of boats that roam the canals. Walking is always a good option, but in case you wanted to not waste any time and move around quickly, you could consider one of the Venetian vessels.
Gondolas are the most famous boats in the city, but because of that, they are also extremely expensive. The price is around 80 euros per person and they are also very slow since they are rowed. Here you are paying for the experience of slowly witnessing the city without having to walk in the crowded streets.
Because of this, think about what you are really looking for. If your goal is to just quickly move from one place to the other then you should definitely take the Vaporetti, which are classic small boats daily used around the canals. The price is way cheaper. Only 20 euros and the ticket does not expire throughout the day, so the purchase is required only once.
The Rialto Bridge is definitely another place to visit. Guest of different movie scenes and the architectural masterpiece that elevates above the Grand Canal. The view from it is spectacular and can be the protagonist of unforgettable pictures.
Finally, if you love the artistic world then you cannot allow yourself to miss the Gallerie dell’Accademia. This place hosts the most famous Venitian paintings going from Byzantinian art of the year 300, to the gothic style of the Renaissance. If you are less than 25 years old then the price is 2 euros per ticket.
The students will make their way to Florence on May 21. Half of the day is going to be guided and the group will be able to see the magnificent Duomo, the Gates of Paradise and the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge). These places are incredible, so take your time to carefully observe them.
Another cathedral that should be visited is the Santa Croce. This majestic place was almost completely destroyed by a devastating flood. Since then it has been carefully restored. The place is like a very fancy cemetery and hosts the tombs of some of the most remarkable Italian artists, poets and rulers. The ticket also allows you access to the secluded inner garden. The price is 8 euros per person.
Piazzale Michelangelo is a must for tourists in Florence. Its location is not very comfortable since it can only be reached by car/bus or a walk of about 20/25 minutes from the city center of Florence.
Even if you need to work it out to get there, the prize is way more than worth it. The place offers the best view in Florence and it is also an excuse to visit the other side of the city, which is divided in two by the Arno river.
An overall final tip is to just explore and stay away from tourist traps. Avoid going to restaurants on the main streets. They typically do not offer authentic food and are way too expensive. Explore the streets and just find a place that inspires you.
Remember that you can also ask for information from locals. Almost everyone speaks English there. Just be sure to talk slowly so that everyone can understand and help you.
Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, Florence