Beacon College students are in Prato, Italy as part of Beacon’s study abroad program. Read on for highlights of their semester, as related by program director Dr. Andrea Brode.
I take time out from packing to compose one of the last newsletters of the Fall 2017 semester from Prato, Italy. Since the last posting we have kept up the pace of our exploration and visited several places worth noting.
We traveled back to Florence to visit the famous Basilica di Santa Croce. Aside from its being a magnificent structure, it is also the burial place for some of Italy’s most famous citizens: Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Galileo, Rossini, Ghiberti and many more.
On November 4 we packed up and left Prato for a 4-day adventure in Rome. This is good practice for the trip back to the U.S. early next month! We caught the train to Florence and transferred to a fast Italo train to Roma. We occupied the better part of one entire car and enjoyed the ride through the Tuscan countryside into the Lazio region. The first order of business was getting checked into the hotel Ghiberti, well-located near the train station and surrounded by restaurants and shops. We did not linger, however, there was much to see and miles to walk.
We have covered many miles since my last update.
On October 13, we were back in Florence for a visit to the Cathedrale Santa Maria del Fiore, with its famous Duomo, Bapistry and Bell Tower. After touring the museum — including the ancient ruins in the crypt over which the cathedral was built — we climbed to the top of the Duomo for another spectacular view of Florence, this time from within the city.
No matter how many times we view these iconic symbols of Florence, they still take our breath away by their sheer grandeur, majesty and beauty.
It was just four weeks ago that we embarked on our adventure and fled Irma which was bearing down on Florida. We continue to explore all that our surroundings have to offer. It is hard to believe that October is here already. In many parts of the United States, now is when the foliage begins to change to a rich palette of autumn colors. Not so here—at least not yet. The hills around Prato are still very green and the temperatures remain summer-like.
On September 29, we boarded the train for the short ride to Pistoia, located just a few miles north and west of Prato. This is another medieval walled city but much smaller, by about half, than Prato. It has its own full complement of historical facts and locations, however.
We have now passed the two-week mark and our stay has been packed fully with sights sounds and a full measure of other sensory experiences.
Students are well-established in their classes and are busy snapping photos, drawing, working on blogs and reading E.M. Forster. Students in the Intro to Italian Art class have been watching a documentary about the Medici and their influence on Italian art and the Renaissance. It is fascinating — and even more so because we see evidence of the Medici everywhere in Prato. Their coat of arms is displayed on buildings and churches all around Tuscany. We are hoping to visit a Villa Medici next week.
Just one short week ago, we arrived in Prato to begin Beacon’s first semester-long study abroad adventure. Students have completed their first week of classes and have begun to explore the maze-like old city. Some have even ventured on their own into Florence by train. They are gradually eating their way through the various restaurants on our meal plan and are getting to know their favorites. Russ Bellamy has taken his class on a walking trip to identity likely places for the plein air drawing and painting class. Gretchen Dreimiller has helped students launch their blogs for the travel narrative class in the computer lab at the University of Florence Prato campus.
Aaron Colaluca celebrates the banner that the Condominio Lippi — the local business/civic group that is actively trying to preserve and promote the old city neighborhood — hung from Dr. Andea Brode’s apartment windows facing the Hotel Giardino (where Beacon in Tuscany students reside) so that it’s the first thing the students see when they walk out the front door.