Volterra, San Gimgnano, and Venice

This has been an incredible week in Tuscany. The day after our bike riding excursion to Lucca, we set off early for two amazing Tuscan cities; Volterra and San Gimgnano. In Volterra, we had an amazing tour guide lead us through the arches and passageways of a city founded by the Etruscans in 4 B.C. On our way to San Gmingnano, we stopped at a picturesque field of sunflowers to take in a classic Tuscan landscape. In San Gimingnano, we wandered the narrow cobblestone streets in small On-Assignment groups photographing local residents and architectural details.

Yesterday we traveled to one of the most unique cities in the world, Venice. It was an amazing sight for all to behold – the canals, bridges, water taxis, and gondolas- a city of water. We traveled the length of the Grand Canal by boat, seeing many of the famous buildings along the way. We explored the Piazza San Marco with the abundant Venetian glass and Carnevale mask shops, small foot bridges, and beautiful architecture. It was an incredible day for all.

Today is our final day in Florence and we are busy editing and preparing our final presentations. We will spend the late afternoon presenting our best photographs from the trip and then we’ll head into downtown Florence for a farewell dinner. We will end the night with a jaunt in the Piazza del Duomo to work on long exposures and capturing the city at night. We board our bus at 3am for a ride to the airport in Milan! It has been an incredible, action packed trip to Tuscany. While we are sad to leave, I think that we are all so grateful for the friends we have made and the experiences that we have had in the last 8 days.

-Angie, Mike, and Carolyn

Bike tour in Lucca -Students: Kaylin, Sotherd, Haley, Abby (back of Haley), Alex, Katie, Kristen

Group shot with Florence in the background

Tuscan sunflower field, Students: Katie S., Holly, Liz, Sotherd, and Auralee

Students taking pictures of ruins in Volterra, Students: Emily, Dan, Max, Laura, Sydney, Kate Y., Kristen, Alex, Auralee,

near Volterra, scenic background - Sabrina, Holly, Liz, Laura, Alex, Katie S.

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Dispatch from Lucca

Today the adventures of NGSE Tuscany continued…  The group traveled to the beautiful walled city of Lucca to get a new perspective on the region of Tuscany.  After a lunch of pizza, calzones, and the local specialty cecina (a large pancake made with ground chickpeas) the group circumnavigated the city by riding bicycles on top of Lucca’s medieval walls.  This is actually quite safe, as the walls are 50 feet wide, and paved with a bicycle path closed to vehicles.  This elevated greenway is lined with trees and gives beautiful views down city streets on one side, and out to the Tuscan countryside on the other.

Our travels tomorrow will take us to the ancient Etruscan hill towns of Volterra (where the second Twilight movie was filmed) and San Gimigiano.  The weather has turned clear and dry here, perfect for our final weekend of exploration.

Mike, Carolyn and Angie

Holly and Mike take the streets of Lucca by storm.

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Ciao from Florence!

An amazing group of students + photography field work + a bit of gelato = an incredible start to the Tuscany program.  Our journey began with two days exploring the heart of Florence.   We gained a behind-the-scenes look into Florence from our tour guide, giving perspective to the numerous sites of the city.  Among these were the Duomo, and  Michelangelo’s statue of David in the Florence Museum.  Still awestruck from the magnificent statue, we had some delicious gelato and returned back for dinner.

The following day we enjoyed Florence from a new vantage point – the hilltop of Fiesole.  After snapping some portraits of locals, we met up with our National Geographic Expert, Massimo Bassano, and then headed to a wonderful olive press farm.  After enjoying a tour of the olive grove and vineyard, we tasted different types of olive oil, fresh bruschetta, and prosciutto.   Still digesting the freshest of olive oil, we listened to a presentation by Massimo and headed to bed.

Today began early so we could spend the entire day along the coast in Cinque Terre, renowned for its photogenic hilltop towns and beaches.  Despite the bouts of rain, we were able to do a significant amount of photography, swim in the Mediterranean, and eat wonderful food and desserts.  In the end, the rain didn’t deter our group and it turned out to be an awesome day.

Signing off for now,
NGSE Tuscany Team
Carolyn, Angie, Mike

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Hello all,

We are happy to report that our Tuscany group is now complete and settled here in Florence. After we arrived safely to the hotel, we ate a fantastic lunch and spent some time enjoying the afternoon sun and getting to know one another. We caught the bus and headed into downtown Florence for a guided tour of Florence’s most ancient palaces and cathedrals like the Duomo, Santa Maria Novella, and the Piazza della Signora. We finished the night off with authentic pizza’s and gelato….

Tomorrow we will finish our NGSE orientation, then head into downtown Florence for a visit to the Galleria dell’ Accademia to see Michelangelo’s “David”.

More to come!!
-Angie, Carolyn, and Mike

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The group has arrived

We’ve received word from the leaders that the group has arrived in Florence.

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Throughout the expedition, trip leaders will post updates to this blog in order to keep family and friends updated on the progress of the expedition. We hope that these updates will keep you informed about the activities, projects and successes of the summer, as well as comfort the usual worries in sending a son or daughter to a far-away place.

Leaders will post to the blog as often as possible, but please keep in mind that our groups have very busy schedules over the summer and internet access in many of the places we visit is often limited. The frequency of blog posts will range depending on the group’s itinerary and field conditions. Please know that leaders are equipped with cell phones, and any important issues on the program will be discussed and resolved with leaders and parents by phone, rather than through the blog.

We suggest that you subscribe to the blog during your first visit. Once subscribed, you will receive e-mail notifications at the end of the day each day a new update is posted. To subscribe, enter your email address in the ‘Email Subscription’ box to the right.

Have a fantastic summer!

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