Italy, Switzerland, and France--Spring '89
Part II

On all the company-directed student tours we have taken, the pattern is fairly similar. The group takes a tour bus to each of the major cities on the itinerary, and on one of the days in that city, a local tour guide is employed to guide the group either on a walking tour around the center of the city or on a bus tour throughout the city. Other cities may be visited for short, unescorted tours. It is probably the only system that is possible in order to cover as much as they do in as short a time as is allowed by the itinerary. On this trip, we had formal guided tours of Florence, Rome, and Venice, and shorter visits to Monte Carlo, Geneva, Pisa, Siena, and Lucerne. In Rome, we were able to see parts of the ruins of the Forum, but we did not take a walking tour through them.

Ruins in the Forum
At St. Peter's

Much of the tour of Rome was spent around St. Peter's. Part of the group visited the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, but we just walked around in and near Vatican City. On each of the visits I have taken to Rome, I have enjoyed sitting in the piazza in front of St. Peter's watching the world come to church. Within twenty minutes, you can be fairly certain that you will see a group of sightseers from each of the continents.

On this trip I was able to see Siena, even if it were for only a short visit. The group stopped in the city for a couple of hours on the trip between Rome and Venice. In that short period of time, I realized that I would have to return someday to explore some of the little streets that had to be left untouched on this trip. The kids from Alaska found the Campo-- Siena's amphitheater-like piazza-- and the boys stripped off their tops and worked on their tans in the "blazing" 60-degree heat.

In Venice

The worst part about our visit to Venice was that EF opted to house us in one of the resort hotels across the lagoon--30 minutes from the city by hired boat. We were unable to enjoy what I consider to be the best part of a visit to Venice-- wandering around the little streets late at night listening to the quiet. Our precious few hours in Venice were interrupted for a sales pitch at the glass factory, but even the short time we had was wonderful. At its worst, Venice is better than most other places one can visit.

A few years ago when I read that one of the old bridges in Lucerne had burned it was like reading of the death of a friend. I hope that the rebuilt bridge can last as many years as the original. Our last stop was in Lucerne, another great city for nighttime walking and wandering, but again they placed us well out of town in a small village that barely got a visit from the postal bus. From this trip, I have many fond memories, and I think EF did what it does very well. But I decided that we could offer a better experience for the students by planning our own trips, traveling by train in a more limited area, and staying in the city centers.


Part I
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