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Italian Tour 2008

6 February 2009

On Friday the 21st of November, 30 intrepid Year 9 and 10 students, chaperoned by
3 teachers, left Tullamarine airport and teary parents, for the overseas trip of a life
time and the opportunity to put into practice four years of Italian education.
After 23 hours in the air, punctuated by a 2 hour stopover in Bangkok, the weary
members of the 2008 Mazenod tour finally arrived at Malpensa airport in Milan. An
hour bus ride and we finally arrived at Bergamo the home city of Sant’Alessandro,
Mazenod’s host school. Each student was eager to meet the hosts that were to
become their surrogate family for the next ten days. Obvious relief was noticed
when hesitant Italian greetings were answered with confident English from many of
the host parents.
Over the ten days at Sant’Alessandro our students enjoyed the hospitality of the
principal Don Sanna, the Deputy Principal, Professori Milly Denti and the staff and
students who were all willing to help the boys of Mazenod to improve their
language skills and to further their understanding of Italian culture. This experience
certainly was the highlight of many of the students’ experience while in Italy and
the bonds formed during this time will certainly flourish despite the tyranny of
distance. On Tuesday the 2nd of December, laden with gifts from host families the
tour left the beautiful town of Bergamo to tour Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome.
While touring through the Northern and Central districts of
Italy the boys were fortunate enough to see Juliet’s balcony in
Verona. A tour of a replica of her house certainly brought to life
Romeo and Juliet, a text some of the students had studied in Year 9
Literature. Another ‘pit stop’ was that of Modena, the birth place of
Enzo Ferrari and the ‘Galleria Ferrari’. This museum was
possibly one of the most remarkable experiences that our
tour party was privileged to see. To view millions of dollars of Ferraris, both Formula 1 cars and road vehicles was amazing. Each one of the thirty boys enjoying the tour formally vow to knuckle
down and study hard so that one day they may have the education required to
obtain the type of job that would allow them to purchase their own piece of Ferrari
history.
Our first two nights in a hotel were spent in Venice, a town famous for its canals
and waterways. During the early part of our time in Italy we heard horror stories of
the flooding that Venice suffered. We were fortunate that for the time that we were
in Venice our canal based hotel remained dry and our movements around this
unique town were not impeded.
Our next four nights were spent in Florence, the home of Italian culture and art. The
opportunity to visit the Uffizi Gallery to view works of art by Leonardo da Vinci,
Botticelli and Goya and the Academia Gallery to
view Michaelangelo’s magnificent statue of David were indeed memorable. Those
who would brand Year 9 and 10 Mazenod boys as uncultured would have been
suitably impressed with their ability to appreciate and immerse themselves in the
magnificent art works that they saw.
The final aspect of our tour was that of a four night stay in Italy’s capital, Rome.
During our time in this ancient city the boys experienced the Trevi Fountain, the
Colosseum, the Catacombs, and the ruins of Pompei. A highlight of this beautiful
city was the visit to the Vatican and the centre of our Catholic faith, St Peters. The
majority of the tour party took the opportunity to climb the 521 stairs to reach the
dome of St Peter’s and take in the spectacular views of the Vatican square and the
Pope’s residence Castel Sant’Angelo.
While at the Vatican the boys were lucky enough to have their souvenirs and
religious artifacts blessed by one of the local priests. I’m sure it was one of the
more unusual requests that he had, blessing a selection of rosary beads, crucifixes
and books on the pavement of a busy Roman street. However, he happily complied
and was certainly impressed with the sincerity and reverence that our boys
displayed.
The thirty days spent overseas was an amazing experience for all involved and
much credit must go to Mrs. Rosemary Kantor and Mrs. Pina Parisi, the chief
organizers of the tour. It is difficult to appreciate how much organization
is involved to ensure that the boys safely immerse themselves in a foreign culture while enjoying themselves and each others’ company. The students also
 

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