Vatican City

Explore Italy

Spring 2020


Developed in Italy, the Reggio Emilia approach to preschool and primary education has inspired countless teachers around the world. Learn more about its international influences when you visit the Loris Malaguzzi International Centre, named for the philosophy’s creator. You’ll also connect with other passionate students and teachers during visits to local schools, and gain insight into how educational practices have changed over time when you visit the oldest university in the world. 

Group Leader:  Dr. Shelly Meyers


Explore Italy destination map
Explore Italy destination map

Students interested in the Explore Italy trip can register for the class (IS200.02 with Dr. Myers) any time after spring registration begins (March 25, 2019). Students are advised to register as early as possible as popular trips will fill up quickly.  

UPDATE:  The Italy trip is now full - if you are interested in being placed on the wait list please go to:

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Your Itinerary

Day 1: Fly to Italy

Meet your group and travel on an overnight flight to Venice.

Day 2: Venice

Arrive in Venice

Welcome to Venice, the “Floating City.” Crisscrossed with romantic bridges and laced with history, Venice boasts some of the world’s finest art and architecture.


Tonight, gather with your group for a delicious meal.

Day 3: Venice

Sightseeing tour of Venice

Along with your expert local guide, see gondolas glide down the Grand Canal before stopping in St. Mark’s Square. Look for the golden weathervane, which resembles the archangel Gabriel, atop the 323-foot Campanile (Bell Tower).

Self-guided tour of Doge’s Palace

Stroll through the pink-and-white Doge’s Palace and see where mighty Venetian dukes once ruled. Walk over the Bridge of Sighs, which links the palace to a prison. As they crossed the bridge, prisoners supposedly sighed with perfect sadness as they bid their beautiful city farewell.

Glass-blowing demonstration

Attend a glass-blowing demonstration and watch expert craftsmen spin molten-hot wares.

School visit

Experience Italian education at work on your visit to a local school. Learn how the city’s culture impacts its educational practices—and vice versa. Later, reflect on the differences and similarities between this school and ones you’ve visited back home.

Day 4: Venice | Bologna

Travel to Bologna

This morning, travel to Bologna, which is well-known for its famous dish, spaghetti Bolognese.

Sightseeing tour of Bologna

Your expert local guide takes you to the Piazza del Nettuno, which features a once-controversial statue of Neptune and the seductive sirens. Continue to the Basilica di San Petronio, and pass by the Palazzo Comunale, Bologna’s 14th-century town hall.

University of Bologna

Follow in the footsteps of early European educational thinkers during a visit to the University of Bologna. Founded in 1088, this is the oldest existing university in Europe.

Lecture on Italian education

Learn how the Italian educational system has changed over the years, and see how it has influenced our own.


Reflect on the day’s activities over dinner with your group.

Day 5: Bologna | Florence

Loris Malaguzzi International Centre

Visit this famous meeting place, which is known for its dedication to improving education. Learn how it uses a mixture of creativity, innovation, and experimentation to help children reach their full potential.

Travel to Florence

Make your way to Florence, the birthplace of the Italian language, opera, and the Renaissance.


After arriving in Florence, enjoy dinner with your group.

Day 6: Florence

Sightseeing tour of Florence

As you explore the city with your expert local guide, pass by the Duomo and the classical statues at the Piazza della Signoria. Then, walk across the Ponte Vecchio, a medieval bridge that’s famous for its gold and jewelry shops.

Meet with a local teacher

Learn more about classroom lesson plans and activities as you meet with a local teacher. Discuss what a career in education looks like within the country, and ask about differences between their system and ours.

Day 7: Florence | Rome

Free time in Florence

Enjoy a free morning to discover Florence on your own. You may decide to visit the beautiful Boboli Gardens or one of the city’s many museums. Or choose to wander the city’s streets, as Florence’s collection of impressive art makes it a veritable open-air museum itself.

Travel to Rome

Welcome to the capital of Italy, where education has always played an important role. In ancient Rome, education started as an informal system, where children were taught by their parents. Over the course of a few centuries, it transitioned to a specialized, tiered system of schools that later influenced the development of educational systems throughout Western civilization.

Rome on foot

On your self-guided walking tour, visit the Pantheon, built to honor all the gods of Rome. A column of light filters in from the domed ceiling’s prominent ocular. Continue to the grand city square known as the Piazza Navona and to the Spanish Steps, the widest staircase in Europe. Before you say “arrivederci,” toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain to ensure a return trip to the Eternal City.


Join your group for a dinner in Rome.

Day 8: Rome

Sightseeing tour of Rome

Better familiarize yourself with this ancient city as you explore it with your expert local guide. As your guide regales you with stories of the city’s past, make sure to ask about the role of education in ancient Rome, as well as how it developed from a familial system to one based on tuition.

The Colosseum

Walk through the Colosseum, the world’s most famous arena. Here, you can almost hear the stamping feet of the crowds gathered for gladiatorial combat.

The Roman Forum

See the ruins of the Roman Forum, the former heart of the Roman Empire where Julius Caesar gave great political speeches.

School visit

Learn how Rome’s culture and history impact its educational practices. Later, note what differences and similarities you saw between this school and the one you visited in Venice.

Day 9: Rome

Sightseeing tour of Vatican City

Your expert local guide shows you some of the city’s most iconic sites.

Sistine Chapel

Visit the beautiful Sistine Chapel, where you can experience the breathtaking ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. From Michelangelo’s frescoes to Raphael’s tapestries, Pope Sixtus IV commissioned the masters of the day to cover nearly every inch of the chapel in art depicting important Biblical scenes.

St. Peter’s Basilica

Look for the papal protectors who flank the entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica—they’re the highly trained soldiers of the Vatican’s Pontifical Swiss Guard. Inside, pass under gilded archways before visiting the saint’s tomb.

Free time in Rome

Take the rest of the afternoon to explore the city at your own pace. You might choose to visit one of its many museums, return to the Spanish Steps for some people watching, or stroll through the charming neighborhood of Trastevere.

Day 10: Depart for home

Transfer to the airport and check in for your flight home.