The trip to Italy comprised a unique mix of school and daily excursions. During the week we stayed in a hotel in Caorle, a seaside resort on the Adriatic Sea. Each morning students attended custom-tailored classes at “Il Faro Center for Italian Language and Culture”. In the afternoons they were led on guided tours exploring the surrounding area of Veneto including Treviso, Portogruaro, Concordia and of course Venice.
In addition to traditional walking tours, we also rode a ‘bragozzo’, a traditional Venetian boat, around the lagoon of Caorle to “l’Isola dei Pescatori” (Fisherman Island). The highlight of the week was a full day in Venice, visiting St Mark’s Basilica and the Ducal Palace. We visited glassblowing workshops and lacemaking boutiques and took a gondola ride through Venice’s picturesque canals.
Day 1: Arrival in Caorle!
After a long flight we arrived in Caorle, a beautiful medieval town of about 10,000, located along the Adriatic coast. Here we attended italian classes in the morning, and launched our day trips to cities in the Veneto region.
Day 2: Il primo giorno di scuola
After a well deserved, full-night’s rest we began our first complete day in Caorle. The weather was beautiful, cool mornings warming to the high 60s in the full sun. Our hotel continued to feed us very well, with a traditional three course Italian meal for lunch and dinner. In the morning we were treated to an enormous prima colazione (the Sanguinello juice and local pane al cioccolato were particular popular).
A quick 15 minute walk from L’Hotel Venezia took us through the winding streets of Il Centro Storico and brought us to our school, located just off a central piazza. Il Faro was very charming – immaculately maintained by Liviana and her staff. The instructors Liviana, Barbara and Martina met our students cheerfully and began the week’s lessons. Later that afternoon our local guide lead us through the old sites in town and give us an up-close history of Caorle’s medieval past.
Day 3: Beyond Caorle, Treviso
By day three we had finally settled into our week and the day-to-day routine of morning classes and afternoon excursions. News from Il Faro was very positive, our students were making real improvements in their oral skills and their instructors were very pleased with their enthusiasm toward the Italian language.
After classes, and another enormous pranzo of fried calamari and pasta pomodoro e mozzarella, we ventured beyond Caorle to the picturesque walled medieval city of Treviso, about an hour west of Carole. There we encountered the 13th century Romanesque Chiesa di San Francesco, famous for its original medieval frescos and its vaulted ceiling, borrowed from boat designs of the era. Later we explored the enormous Cattedrale di San Pietro di Apostolo, noted for its massive dome and Titian masterpiece, the altarpiece “L’Annunziata”. In all we left very impressed with Treviso, in many ways a preview of Venice, with a labyrinth of streets, crisscrossed with canals.
Day 4: Beyond Caorle, Portogruaro
After another morning of classes and an incredible stop for pizza we were off to Portogruaro, a charming medieval town about an hour north of Caorle. There we met the lovely Elena, our local guide for the day, who led us on a wonderful walk through town, highlighting all of the major sites. First stop was the Parco della Pace, dotted with aromatic “glicine” (wisteria) in full bloom.
Later we made our way to the Museo Nazionale Concordiese, which hosts a fantastic collection of 1st century Roman artifacts. The group was very impressed but wondered where all the noses and heads had run off to! Next we made our way toward the center of town, la Piazza della Repubblica, under the shadow of a less famous leaning torre, the Campanaria.
Like Treviso, Portogruaro is laced with waterways and canals, although swifter. Our group really enjoyed the walk along the waterwheels and locks that redirect and harness the power of the current. Finally we took a well-deserved rest in the grassy shade within the courtyard of the very old Liceo Marconi, originally built as a lazzaretto (a renaissance era isolation ward).
After the break and a little shopping (and gelato-ing), we hopped a local bus to see Concordia, the original site of the Roman artifacts we saw earlier in the day. Our students really enjoyed the up-close window into ancient Roman-life.
Day 5: Caorle’s bragozzi and casoni
After classes, we explored the canals and waterways around Caorle in a bragozzo (a traditional fishing boat), stopping to visit one of the ancient island communities that dot Venezia’s lagoons. There we were given access to one of the island’s casoni (a reed-thatched house once used by local fishermen) owned for generations by the family of our captain Riccardo.
Day 6: Venezia, the grand finale!
After a long journey we finally arrived in Venice, a site one will not easily forget. We began at the Ducal Palace, exploring the golden rooms of the Serenìssima Republican government, making our way across the Ponte dei Sospiri to St Mark’s Basilica and Piazza.
After another exquisite lunch (highlighted with an excellent nutella tiramisu) we visited a nearby glassblowing workshop and traditional lace-maker shop, and then capped the entire trip off with a lazy glide through the canals in four gondolas, which emptied us into the Grand Canal at sunset – Venice did not disappoint!
Day 7: Arrivederci!
Sad to leave, we said our goodbyes to the Veneto, enjoying one last stroll through Caorle’s winding streets…