Students Trace Footsteps of Emperors, Artists, Saints in Italy
Posted on 04/03/2024
With passports in hand and excitement in their hearts, a group of 18 students and two chaperones from St. Thomas Aquinas High School set out on a grand Italian voyage, tracing the footsteps of emperors, artists, and saints across cities ranging from Venice to Sorrento and several in between. It proved to be an extraordinary educational, cultural, and religious journey that featured some of the country's rich history, culture, and landmarks while students created unforgettable memories along the way. Senior Nick Basilico summed up the journey saying, “This trip was a very fun experience and an eye-opening opportunity in a beautiful country. I enjoyed being guided through many beautiful cities and being given the opportunity to explore them on our own as well. I would definitely go again.”

Their adventure began in Venice, where they were enchanted by the city's picturesque canals, stunning architecture, and winding streets. Highlights included exploring St. Mark's Square, St. Mark’s Basilica, and enjoying a scenic boat ride along the Grand Canal.

In Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, the group marveled at world-renowned art and architecture. They visited the iconic Duomo, walked across the historic Ponte Vecchio bridge, and learned the history and heritage of the city on a walking tour.

Siena captivated the group with its medieval charm and historic landmarks. They explored the Piazza del Campo, admired the stunning Siena Cathedral, and learned about the city's famous Palio horse race.

A visit to Assisi provided a spiritual pilgrimage as they explored the birthplace of St. Francis. The group visited the Basilica of St. Francis where it had arranged a private prayer service in one of the basilica’s many chapels. Afterward, they wandered through the ancient streets of this hilltop town, taking in the peaceful atmosphere and breathtaking views.

The ancient ruins of Pompeii offered a glimpse into the past as the group explored the remarkably preserved remnants of this Roman city buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

In Sorrento, the group enjoyed panoramic views, charming streets, and delicious cuisine. In a fascinating cultural and religious experience, the group witnessed a Good Friday procession through the streets in which the townspeople carried symbols of Jesus’s passion.

Rome, the Eternal City, provided an unforgettable final stop with its array of historic sites, including the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, and Trevi Fountain. The group also explored the Vatican Museums, home to priceless works of art, and marveled at the awe-inspiring beauty of the Sistine Chapel.

The culmination of the trip was Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square, presided over by His Holiness Pope Francis. The students and chaperones joined thousands of worshippers from around the world in celebrating the resurrection of Christ in this historic setting.

“I really enjoyed Easter Sunday mass because I thought it was interesting how the mass and all the scriptures were in multiple different languages,” said junior Olivia Davideit. “It was especially memorable when Pope Francis was driven around St. Peter’s Square after Mass.”

The trip was made possible through the dedicated efforts of the chaperones and St. Thomas Aquinas High School administration, as well as the support of parents. Throughout their journey, passed through four airports, stayed in five different hotels, visited five distinct Italian regions, and walked approximately 62 miles, embracing the spirit of adventure and discovery every step of the way.

“I really enjoyed this trip because I’ve never flown overseas before, and I really enjoyed seeing how different people live around the world,” commented senior Trevor Lavelle. “My highlights were all the churches, the good food, and the shopping. It was overall just a great trip, and I built many friendships along the way.”

Italy 2024