Italy trip reflections: lasting connections, pizza, and city exploration


Courtesy of Sarah Morgan

Sarah Morgan

Italy is beautiful. There are no words to describe the way the rolling hills and seaside pulled at my heartstrings, or how the mountains made an impression that will last forever.

It all began with a seven-hour flight to Amsterdam, twenty-one students and three Wilson staff members, Robert Geremia, Tiffany Mercer, and Eden McCauslin. We then took a second flight to Bologna and a bus ride to Falconara Marittima, a tiny town in northern Italy on the Adriatic Coast.

When we stepped off the bus, we were greeted by cheering host families, a warm welcome for us American exchange students. My host student, Sonia, and her mother picked me up. Later, Sonia and I, along with others from the exchange program, walked the beach, which was a short distance from her house, and then chatted at a park where we spent the rest of the daylight. I had my first taste of delicious Italian pizza in between the beach and the park, but Vache’s on Connecticut Avenue still holds the biggest place in my heart.

The next morning we were off to school, and then off to Ancona, a city a few bus stops from Falconara. Our hosts guided us on a tour around the gorgeous city. The rest of our stay in Falconara was similar—touring nearby cities and discovering Italy with our hosts. We visited Assisi, the location of the Basilica of St.Francis, Morro D’Alba, Genga, the location of the Caves of Frasassi, and explored the Northern coast.

Next we went to Venice, leaving our host families in Falconara and riding a bus to the famous tourist site two hours from the city we got to know so well. Most students cried, everyone hugged, and the teacher and leader of the exchange told me that I would have a place in her home if I ever wanted to visit Falconara again.

Our two days in Venice were eventful: we toured, explored, and got lost in the winding roads. Some of us went on gondolas, while others relaxed in the park. My favorite thing about the trip was meeting new people. Being in close quarters with people you hardly know tends to form bonds quickly, and building those relationships was fun, especially since I might have never spoken to some, even though we went to the same school.