Tornado Travelers Visit Italy

From Left to Right: Alexander Leon, Matt Chin, Dylan Ha, Erin O’Brien-Mazza, and Max Weng. Photo submitted by Max Weng. 

This past April vacation, 38 students and 6 teachers ventured off on a 10 day guided tour of Italy. Italian teacher and trip leader Adrienne D’Agostino began organizing the trip in November of 2015 all because when she was in high school, there was a trip organized by her English teacher to London and Paris. She wanted to give Malden High students the same opportunity to travel.

In just 10 days, the group was able to visit Milan, Venice, Florence, Assisi, Pompeii, San Gimignano, Sorrento, and Rome. Junior Melody Wong said that ”every day, [they] would visit the biggest monument there and have plenty of free time to look around and explore. On most days, [they] would get a tour of the city and learn about the history of the area and then [they] got to go wherever [they wanted] with [their] friends.”   

When the group was in Verona, they saw the graves of Romeo and Juliet and Juliet’s balcony as explained by History Teacher and Chaperone Marsha Healy. In Venice, they were able to ride gondolas and visit Doge’s palace. The group was able to see the Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. After Florence, the group took a little excursion to San Gimignano which is a hill town just outside Florence.

While exploring Assisi the group was able to visit the Basilica of St. Francis. From Assisi, they traveled to the ruins of Pompeii where they were able to see the still standing aftermath of Mount Vesuvius’ eruption nearly 3,800 years ago. Then, they ventured to Sorrento where they saw the beautiful views of the Amalfi Coast and where to spend time looking around. Teacher and chaperone Mitch Abbatessa said that a few of the senior boys including Max Weng spontaneously jumped in the mediterranean sea with whatever clothes they had on.

After that. they ventured off to Rome for their final days in Italy. For the first part of their stay in Rome they took a trip to the Vatican city to see the Vatican and see the Sistine Chapel. After their visit to the Vatican, they went and saw the major sites such as Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, Pantheon, and the Trevi fountain. Healy also explained they visited the Jewish Quarter of Rome which was very moving to her to realize that in 1943 many of the Jewish population were rounded up there and taken during World War II.

The members of the Italy trip with their teacher chaperones. Photo submitted by Max Weng.

Including D’Agostino, there were six chaperones that accompanied the students on the trip. Healy was asked to go by D’Agostino and wanted to return because she went 20 years ago and threw a coin in the Trevi, which means that she would return to Italy and she wanted that to be true. Abbatessa who was also asked, had never been before, so he wanted to experience it. English teacher Yahaira Marquez also went and will be leading the London and Paris trip in the spring of 2020. Band teacher Erin O’Brien-Mazza chaperoned the trip as well.

Spanish teacher Caroline Lorenz who was also a chaperone, recalls that “when [she] was in college, [she] visited a friend who was studying in Rome. [She] had a very different experience there on [her] own and [did not] like the city very much. She found it chaotic compared to cities in Spain. This trip was much better, so [she is] glad [she] got a chance to return and do it right!” She also went on to talk about how she is leading the Spain trip next year and wanted to get some practice in, but also because the group that was going looked fun.

Senior Max Weng explained that the food was very different. The breakfast was usually something sweet or contained ham and cheese.  At lunch, they were usually served some type of sandwich, which Abbatessa said was usually done on your own whereas dinner was always at the hotel. Weng stated “Dinner was always a three course meal. It often involved salad, pasta, some type of meat whether it was beef, pork or chicken, pizza, and gelato.” Junior Meghan Fitzpatrick also made it clear that “The food was very different from the Italian food [in America].”  D’agostino even said “the rest stop food was good.”

Junior Sebastian Romani loved getting to hang out and experience the nightlife in Rome. Junior Joanne Ho says that “[she loved] Rome because there was just so much to do and so much to see. You could walk by the Trevi Fountain and turn the corner to see the Spanish Steps. The Colosseum was mind-blowing in person and seeing all these landmarks is completely different from just looking at pictures”  Junior Matt Distefano liked “the small town [they] visited that was not on [their] itinerary called San Gimignano where the best food and gelato was.” D’Agostino’s favorite place was the Vatican and getting to see the Sistine Chapel.

All of the students who attended the trip said they would recommend others to visit Italy. Ho even said “[She] would definitely recommend this school trip, [it is] a great way to connect with friends and a whole new culture.” Distefano described it as a once in a lifetime experience. Wong stated “there [is] no doubt [she] would recommend this trip, besides the trip being expensive, it was worth it.”

If you are interested in attending a trip, visit https://tornadotravelers.wikispaces.com/ for more information.

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