When it comes to school trips abroad, few destinations have more to offer than the historic shores of Italy.
In this blog, we’ll share the story of Mark Longmuir’s and his class, who joined forces with WorldStrides to arrange a school trip to Italy in May 2018.
Mr. Longmuir teaches at Erskine Stewarts Melville College in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Read on to find out all about their epic adventure and how you can get started with school trips abroad.
School trips abroad don’t come much better than this…
The Grand Departure
Through yawns and half-closed eyes, we found ourselves at Edinburgh Airport, ready to embark on a trip of a lifetime!
It was the thoroughly unseemly hour of 04:30, and yet the place was as busy as 5:00 pm on a Friday in July.
Ryanair’s baggage allowance took some fathoming, however a very decent bacon roll and coffee at Eat teed everyone up no end!
The adventure was on and what a joy it was to fly into Rome on a balmy Sunday at the end of May.
We were right at the back of the plane and the first to experience that welcoming blast of warm air, which was a real tonic for any Scottish group!
Rome – una vita non basta (one life is not enough)
We arrived in Rome by ten o’clock and our first visit of the trip entailed a leisurely walk down the Appia Antica; one of the oldest roads in the world and truly a magnificent feat of Roman engineering.
It was great to take a stroll with the locals and see where the rich Romans live. 007 visited this place in ‘Spectre’.
We then found ourselves being guided through the Roman Forum and – with a bit of imagination – you could imagine what it was like 2,000 years ago. Sunday was a great day to visit, as that is when that whole area is closed to traffic.
Then, we went to one of the most iconic structures in the world, the Colosseum. The building really has not changed since the days of the Gladiators, and with a capacity to match Murrayfield!
On day two, we visited the Vatican City and were astounded by the galleries and priceless pieces of art that surrounded us. We even got to visit the Sistine Chapel and got a glimpse of the infamous Swiss Guard.
That said, we were not alone! In recent years, the influx of cruise ships might have been good for the Roman economy. It is, however, adding to the numbers.
Still, it did not deter us. We rounded off our day with a stop at the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain.
To Florence and the Tuscan hills
On day three, we caught an early train to Florence. And, after a majestic journey through Tuscany, we found ourselves overwhelmed by the beautiful Renaissance architecture.
Italian inter-city trains work well – even with a group of 29, it was quick, efficient and the trains were so clean. They certainly put Scotrail to shame!
After a quick lunch, we met with our guide and walked through Florence while battling through a lengthy, torrential downpour. Despite the impending hypothermia, it was still awesome!
We then visited Il Duomo, and those of us that possessed the courage climbed the 463 steps to the summit to witness the mesmerising view. Many of the students said this was the highlight of the trip.
It was a great trip for climbing church towers – some brave souls climbed the Campanile (bell tower) the next day, as well as a tower in Lucca with 15 oak trees on top. This was a quite a discovery!
Lucca by train. And relax…
On day four, we descended on the Florence market before catching our train to Lucca.
Upon our arrival, our guide met us and took us through the winding streets of Lucca, which told of a rich history. Lucca is lovely. Traffic-free, calm, peaceful and a real change after the hustle and bustle of city life.
After a game of football on the battlements of Lucca’s outer walls, we went searching for dinner. After a filling meal, we walked back to our hotel while admiring the beauty of Lucca when masked by darkness.
Eating with school groups in Italy is easy – which children don’t like pizza, pasta and ice-cream? There are a fair few school teachers partial to that fodder as well!
Pisa – wow, it really does lean!
On our final day, we ventured to Pisa by coach and made a beeline towards Miracle Square. We were overcome by the sheer magnificence of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
After some ice cream and exploring, we met up for a banquet at lunch-time, and then began our return trip to Edinburgh.
This had been a great trip for independent travel – a kind of Interrail for 14-year-olds.
Pisa airport came up with a lovely surprise for transport enthusiasts and a first for many of us – a driverless train to the terminal.
Want to find out more about our Italian itinerary or any of our other school trips abroad? Speak to the friendly WorldStrides team.