By Brad Miller – Marist Italy Staff
“I’m so incredibly grateful I took advantage of this opportunity. This was absolutely perfect experience for traveling out of country for first time. Everything was handled responsibly; I learned a lot, had so much fun and was surrounded by great people while doing it. This precollege program gave me an experience I’ll truly never forget. Thank you Marist for the best trip I’ve ever taken.” — Sydne Barard, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
In July 2014 the 3rd summer edition of Marist Italy PreCollege took place, as 23 high school students from around the world spent two magical weeks studying Studio Art, Fashion Design, or Interior Design, thereby earning three Marist College credits. Students hailed from all around the US, Singapore, Lebanon, Germany, and Greece. These students (ranging in age from 14-17) witnessed first-hand how Florence itself functions as an open-air classroom, and returned home with precious memories having encountered dozens of entertaining Italian characters (“personaggi”!) during their Florentine sojourn.
Afternoons and evenings allowed students to experience the most popular cultural activities of the city; the session began with a dinner atop a rooftop terrace, then continued to explorations of a personalized guided tour of the city, the magnificent Uffizi Gallery, a sunset boat ride on the river Arno, and of course sampling gelato: thirteen different gelato shops in two weeks!
With the relaxed rules regarding picture-taking, students were even able to take ‘selfies’ with the statue of David in the Accademia Gallery. Three full weekend days accentuated their weekday studies, as students dined with perhaps the most famous butcher in the world Dario Cecchini in his shop in Chianti, hiked and swum along the daunting cliffs of the Cinque Terre, and biked atop the medieval walls of beautiful Lucca. Pisa’s leaning tower provided the classic postcard moment of the session, as students laughed themselves silly listening to the anecdotes of tour guide Roberto Bello. The group even enjoyed an exclusive oil- and cheese-tasting session with a Florentine chef. Students took their rest in residences normally inhabited by Marist first-years who take part in the Freshman Florence Experience. In fact, a previous PreCollege student will begin her Marist undergraduate experience this month right back in the city that inspired her as a 15 year-old. The 2014 PreCollege students were warned that this city has powerful effects on its visitors…