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Floral Park Students Take On Italy

By Juniors Emilee Becker and Brigid Hearne

Thirty-three of Floral Park Memorial High School students had the unique experience to travel to Italy over February break with their teachers Ms. Dourayeb BenMoussa, Mr. John Christianson, Ms. Gina D’Ammassa, Mr. Dimitrios Drivas and Ms. Tracie Libonati.

The trip lasted 10 days and within that time, we were able to visit some of Italy’s most iconic cities, including Capri, Ferrara, Florence, Rome, Sorrento and Venice. First, we visited Sorrento, a beautiful coastal town marking the beginning of the famous Amalfi Coast. While we were there, we visited the luxurious island of Capri, home to Sophia Loren and gorgeous lemon groves. Capri was breathtaking with its clear water, defined cliffs and authentic shops. We also tried the most delicious gelato from the gelateria that the Pope visits during his visits to Sorrento. This was the first of very many gelatos. The group even learned how to dance the traditional Tarantella. We ventured north for a morning tour of the ruins of Pompeii and then continued on our way towards Rome. On the way to the Eternal City, chaperones were able to organize a lunch at Ms. D’Ammassa’s uncle’s pizzeria, where the group enjoyed some delicious food, while being able to truly gain an authentic Italian experience in the town of Casalvieri.

In Rome, we visited the most breathtaking sights such as the Colosseum, the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, the Roman Forum, the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and Vatican City – wow, the artwork in the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. We also learned how to make gelato at the famous Fassi Gelateria.

Off we went to Florence, one of our favorite cities! Here we were able to visit the Galleria dell’Accademia where we saw Michelangelo’s David, il Ponte Vecchio, the Medici Gardens, Piazzale Michelangelo, the San Lorenzo Market, the Uffizi Gallery, and of course, some of us climbed the Bell Tower at the Duomo. Florence was stunning and we are confident that many of us Knights will be back here.

Our final stop was in Venice – but not before stopping to have lunch in Ferrara, where the historical part of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most favorably, Ferrara is in the Emilia-Romagna region, gastronomical center of Italy. Our tummies were very satisfied!

Our time in Venice was limited but we made the most of it. We happened to be here during the internationally acclaimed Carnevale season. We loved walking alongside the canals seeing the Venetians dressed up. Here we were able to go on a gondola ride, and we also sat through a glass-blowing demonstration where we learned how Venetian Murano glass is crafted. It was a bittersweet end to an amazing trip. As much as we missed our friends and family at home, we felt as if we never wanted to leave Italy. We had the time of our lives and know that this will not be our final arrivederci.