|Local students cross Tuscany, tour Florence
|Posted: Friday, July 6, 2012 9:05 pm
|By KATIE DONALDSON
Dry cornfields and flat farmland contrast greatly with the poppy-filled fields and rolling hills that met locals Thursday when they traversed Tuscany to continue their four-nation tour to Florence, Italy.
Union City Middle School teacher Mary Hellen Johnson said the group crossed the Apennines Mountains, which stretch 750 miles along the eastern Italian peninsula. After they descended from the mountains, the tour bus entered Tuscan “hill country.”
“It was just perfectly gorgeous,” she said.
She joined her husband, David and eight students on the bus to Florence.
Obion County Central High School students Lindsay Castellaw, Matthew Kegan Tittle and Allison Wicker; South Fulton High School student Zack Vaughn; and Union City High School students Macie Britt, Destiny Powers, Garrett Ransom and Grant Ransom are on the Union City Rotary Club’s all-expense-paid trip to Europe.
The travelers arrived Thursday in Florence, known in Italian as Firenze, with plans to explore the city and see Michelangelo’s David statue.
The group members dropped their bags at their hotel in Pratolino, outside the city, before continuing their explorations. Mrs. Johnson reported the hotel was “wonderful” with an indoor swimming pool and balconies accompanying each room.
The group found their schedule full because, despite everything being in walking distance, Florence offers many beautiful, popular sites.
The group took a walking tour of the city, where they were supposed to see the Ponte Vecchio, meaning old bridge in Italian, which holds several shops supported by stilts.
The tour was also scheduled to pass through the Piazza della Signoria, Florence’s most popular square. It holds several statues designed by famous Florentine artists and the Loggia dei Lanzi, an outdoor sculpture gallery.
The group of 10 planned on going to the Accademia and grabbing a spot in the long line to see the David, which 1.5 million people stand in each year to view the historic masterpiece.
After seeing the sites, the group did some shopping.
The Rotary Club booked the 12-day trip “St. Paul’s to St. Peter’s” through Travel One in Union City. They supplied the group with $50,000 to cover the trip, transportation, meals and other expenses. The trip began in London and will end in Rome.
Earlier this week, the group experienced snow in the middle of summer when they went up Mount Titlis in Switzerland before traveling to Italy. There the group visited Verona, home to Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” where they saw the balcony Juliet supposedly stood on when Romeo declared his love.
They also went to Venice where they rode a gondola and visited glass-making and silk workshops.
The group will continue to Pisa today and will arrive in Rome tonight. The students and their chaperones will spend one full day in Rome and return to Union City Sunday evening.
A conclusion of their travels will appear in the Messenger Monday.
Editor’s note: Katie Donaldson, daughter of Jim and Cindy Donaldson of Union City, is a rising senior at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
Published in The Messenger 7.6.12