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Tuesday, January 25, 2011


When looking for Florence, Italy on an Italian map, you most likely will be unable to find it - unless you are aware of it's Italian translation: Firenze
Florence is considered the "City of the Renaissance" and has been both the birthplace and chosen home of many famous Italians; Dante, Boccaccio, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Niccolò Machiavelli, Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Donatello, Galileo Galilei, Catherine de' Medici, Luigi Cherubini, Antonio Meucci, Guccio Gucci, Franco Zeffirelli, Salvatore Ferragamo, Roberto Cavalli, and Emilio Pucci (to name a few).

Don't know who they all are? Look them up!

Michelangelo's famous statue David is also located in Florence. Having seen other works of Michelangelo in The Louvre in Paris, and been completely entranced by the detail carved into the marble, I can only imagine what this statue, hailed as one of his greatest masterpieces, looks like.

If you click on the link at the top of the page you can visit a virtual tour of Florence, as well as download a free audio guide for your iPod, iPhone or MP3 player.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Other Fun Information

While in Italy we will be spending our time in the Central European Time Zone, which is 8 hours ahead of us here in the Mountain Time Zone. On the right is a digital clock that records the time in Italy. Please be aware of this when communicating with friends and family!

The electricity is also different in Europe than here in the States. Italy runs on a 220V (50Hz) system and has it's own unique 3 prong plug. Please purchase a converter specific to Italy in order to charge your electronics or power anything else that may need to be plugged in. If you fail to do this you are running a VERY LARGE risk of burning out your property, and/or starting a fire.

If you would like to follow the weather forecasts more closely, please visit the following link:
Roma Weather Forecasts

From this link you can also visit forecasts for the rest of Italy as well.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Vatican Museums

Visit the Official Museum Website for information on exhibits and services.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


As the departure date creeps closer, I'd like to meet with all students and parents to review a few items.

Wednesday, Jan. 19th @ 4:30

Please attend as I will be going over some important information!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Colosseum

A little history!

Visit The Colosseum to whet your historical appetites!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Exchange Rates

Italy uses the Euro like most European countries. At the moment one US dollar equals about 3/4 (or 75 cents) of one Euro. This is a pretty decent exchange since I've been in Europe when it's been closer to half of one Euro. The current trends show a significant increase in the dollar's value worldwide, so it would make sense to continue watching this closely.

I strongly suggest watching these rates to find your best exchange. Please visit an exchange rate web site to follow the current trends if you plan on exchanging money in advance.

Money can be exchanged while there at the airport, banks and kiosks, but the rates are often more costly to the exchanger as the business will take a percentage as a fee. Exchanging in advance also will do this, but rates are usually nominal and there are companies that will deliver the money to your house. I've done this in the past and been happy with it. Depending on where you bank, they may also change over money.

The following are links that provide this service:

Travelex -They have both cash delivery as well as pre-paid cards in Pounds, Euros and US dollars that are accepted Worldwide. It just exchanges it like an ATM card would. The perk of this is great exchange rates. These CANNOT be delivered, but Travelex does have branches in Denver and I'm sure the branch can deliver it too you. They are through US Bank in Denver at three different locations: (303) 333-5713, (303) 771-5010 and (303) 260-7433.

Wells Fargo - They do not have pre-paid cards, but do have cash delivery for a cheaper rate than Travelex.

Foreign Currency - Used it and loved it!

I do not suggest traveling with traveller's checks. Fees for exchange have gone up in recent years and it is much more cost effective to use your credit or debit cards which will give you the best rates at the time. Be sure to check that your credit/debit cards are accepted overseas, although most are!

I typically travel with my Debit card and a minimal amount of cast. ATMs are available in Europe also!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Words to Live By!

At least while in Italy! Here is a list of some common phrases and their pronunciations!

yes - si - (see)
no - no - (noh)
excuse me - mi scusi - (mee skoo-zee)
hello - buon giorno - (bwon jor-noh)
goodbye - arrivederci - (ah-ree-vuh-dare-chee)
thank you - grazie - (grah-tsee-eh)
yesterday - ieri - (ee-air-ee)
today - oggi - (oh-jee)
tomorrow - domani - (doh-mah-nee)
what? - quale? - (kwal-eh)
where? - dove? - (doh-ve)

The Shopping Phrases - You cannot go to Italy without a little shopping. After all, Italy is one of the leading fashionable countries in the world.

How much does this cost? - Quante’e, per favore? - (kwan-teh pair-fuh-vor-eh)
What time do you close? - A che ora chiude? - (ah keh or-ah kee-yoo-deh)
I am just looking. - Sto soltanto guardando. - (stoh sol-thahn -toh gwar-dan-doh)
I would like... - Vorrei - (vor-ray)
Do you accept credit cards? - Accettate carte di credito? - (ah-che-tah-the kar-teh dee creh-dee-toh)

The Restaurant Phrases - Naturally, you will want to dine out to taste authentic Italian cuisine while you are there, so these phrases should help you order and decode the menu.

breakfast - colzaione - (koh-lah-tsee-oh-neh)
lunch- pranzo - (prawn-tsoh)
dinner - cena - (che-nah)
waiter - cameriere - (cah-mair-ee-air-eh)
dessert - il dolce - (eel dole-che)
carbonated water - l’acqua minerale gassata - (lah-kwah mee-nair-ah-leh gah-zah-tah)
non-carbonated water - l’acqua minerala naturale - (lah-kwah mee-nair-ah-leh na-too-rah-leh)
garlic - aglio (ah-lee-oh)
steak - la bistecca - (lah bee-steh-kah)
coffee - il caffe - (eel kah-feh)
cheese - il formaggio - (eel for-mah-joh)
ice cream - il gelato - (eel jeh-lah-toh)
milk - il latte - (eel lah-the)
bread - il pane - (eel pah-neh)
knife - il coltello - (eel kol-tell-oh)
fork - la forchetta - (lah for-ket-tah)
spoon - il cucchiahio - (eel koo-kee-eye-oh)

Numbers - If you know any Spanish, you may see many similarities in the way the Italian numbers are spelled and pronounced.

one - uno - (ooh-noh)
two - due - (doo-eh)
three - tre - (treh)
four - quattro - (kwa-troh)
five - cinque - (cheen-kweh)
six - sei (say)
seven - sette - (seh-teh)
eight - otto - (oh-toh)
nine - nove - (noh-veh)
ten - dieci (dee-eh-che)
twenty - dodici - (doh-dee-chee)
thirty - tredici - (treh-dee-chee)
forty - quattordici (kwah-tor-dee-chee)
fifty - quindici - (kwin-dee-chee)
sixty - sessanta (seh-sahn-tah)
seventy - settanta - (seh-tahn-tah)
eighty - ottanta - (oh-tan-tah)
ninety - novanta - (noh-vahn-tah)
one hundred - cento - (chen-toh)

Time Phrases

one hour - un’ora - (oon-oh-rah)
one minute - un minuto - (oohn mee-noo-tah)
Monday - lunedi - (loo-neh-dee)
Tuesday - martedi -(mar-teh-dee)
Wednesday -mercoledi - (mair-koh-leh-dee)
Thursday - giovedi - (gee-oh-veh-dee)
Friday - venerdi - (ven-aire-dee)
Saturday - sabato - (sah-bah-toh)
Sunday -domenica - (doh-men-ee-kah)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Important Contacts

Below are the hotel contact information during our travels. In emergencies we can be reached through explorica, but it never hurts for others to know where we will be. Plus now you can all look up the info and see where we will be staying!

03/15/2011 - 03/17/2011
Hotel Cascina Palace
Via Attilio Benigni 7
Roma, 00153
Phone Number: 011 39 0682002283

03/17/2011 - 03/19/2011
Autopark Hotel
Via Valdegola 1
Via Lippi e Macia 22
Florence, 50127
Phone Number: 011 39 055431771

Lido di Jesolo (Near Venice)
03/19/2011 - 03/21/2011
Hotel Da Bepi
Via Vicenza, 2
Lido di Jesolo, 30016
Phone Number: 0039 0421 972410

I believe there may be one more stop as we do spend a full day in Milan before we leave. I will update as soon as I get more information concerning this.


The weather in March in Rome averages in the high 50's for the highs, and low 40's for the lows. Obviously as we move North into Florence, Venice and Milan the weather does cool down a little, but not very drastically so be sure to pack accordingly. It should also be sunny! I suggest a light jacket to layer over a sweater or fleece instead of packing a heavy coat. As we have witnessed warmer than usual weather here at home, Italy also has been experiencing warmer weather as well, so we may have some balmy days during our stay!

Our Tour Director is:

Karen Helmig
Karen is a New Yorker transplanted in fabulous Rome, Italy (which she now calls home). She did an overseas study program there as a sophomore in college, then moved over after graduating and never made it back to NY! She loves to spend time with her family, travel (of course!), running, yoga, and relaxing with a great book or movie.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


This blog has been created to provide useful and pertinent information leading up to our trip to Italy! I also will be keeping it updated while on our trip for those who would like to keep track of our travels!

First off, I would like to remind everyone that this is NOT a school sponsored trip. It is a trip through an educational company sponsored by myself, the individual teacher. All insurances and liability are covered by the company.

I am very excited to be able to offer this opportunity as the sponsor! As a teacher I believe that educational tours are important to bringing meaning to our studies, and in Italy I hope that meaning is brought to much of my taught curriculum; such as mythology, Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Julius Caesar and Romeo and Juliet, and many other references that are found throughout classical literature and history.

At this point you all should be sure to have ordered your passports, and be double checking that the personal information you provided on the explorica website matches your passport and ID information EXACTLY! We definitely don't want to be held up due to identification issues!

More deadlines and info to come!