2024 Ursuline School Italy Cultural Journey

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2024 Ursuline School Italy Cultural Journey! We have created two webpages dedicated to this exciting program so that travelers are as informed as possible throughout the process. The first page, Pre-Enrollment, is meant to share exciting details, highlights and pertinent info that participants will want to know before enrolling. Once enrolled, the Post-Enrollment page, is meant to prepare travelers for participation on the adventure ahead. Please be sure to review the information on the appropriate page thoroughly and we can't wait to start our enriching adventure!
Travel Dates: March 27, 2024 - April 4, 2024
Group Organizer(s):
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $2,550 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Estimated Airfare: $1,000

What to Expect

Please read through all of the information below. More details will be added as your departure draws closer.

Itinerary

We do everything possible to run safe, engaging, and immersive programs for our travelers and given the unpredictable nature of international travel we must remain flexible in our planning. Changes to a schedule are uncommon but, we reserve the right to adjust programming in the best interest of the group. 

DayLocationDescriptionLodging
March 27USA - Milan, ItalyFly from USA to Milan, Italy.Airplane
March 28MilanWe'll likely arrive in the morning and transfer to our hotel before heading out on a guided tour of the city center during. We'll climb to the top of the Duomo, where you can see the Milan on full display in the foreground and the Alps in the backgound. We'll have a quick lunch, then visit other city sites like the Scala Theater and the Via Monte Napoleone (the street of Italian fashion) and before dinner and good night's rest. Milano Hotel
March 29MilanWe will start our day with a visit to The Last Supper, then the beautiful church that sits adjacent. We will continue exploring the city and get a chance to see other attractions in Milan such as the Parco Sempione, Castello Sforzesco and the Corso di Porta Ticinese, a fashion street where stores offer a more alternative and eccentric take on fashion. After dinner we will head back to our hotel to prepare for tomorrow's trip to Bergamo. Milano Hotel
March 30Milan - BergamoToday we will have day trip to Bergamo and learn about its history and culture. We will have a walking tour of the city where we will get a chance to explore the ancient and small streets and admire the most important and symbolic places of the Upper Town, such as the Rocca and Piazza Vecchia, including its cathedral. We will also visit the Venetian walls, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The group will then have some a photographic scavenger hunt and return to Milan. Milano Hotel
March 31Milan - VeronaWe will start our day attending to Easter Mass in Milan. After lunch we'll head to Verona, home of Romeo and Juliet. Upon arrival we will settle in our hotel and then head out in smaller groups to have a dinner with structured reflection about our Easter Mass and adventure so far. Verona Hotel
April 1VeronaToday we will visit Juliet's house and the very famous Roman Area which is still used for concerts. We'll then see the rest of the city including the many beautiful Piazze (squares) and the Castelvecchio, a 14th century castle turned into a museum. We will head back to our hotel to prepare for the last portion of trip after enjoying our last dinner in Verona.Verona Hotel
April 2Verona - FlorenceAfter the beautiful train ride through the Tuscan alps we'll arrive to Florence and start our day with a guided walking tour, visiting the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio and the rest of the piazze and monuments. Then we will head to the Uffizi Gallery, one of the oldest and most famous art museums in Europe and the world. We'll also make time for the Galleria dell' Accademia, which hosts the original David.Florence Hotel
April 3FlorenceAfter breakfast, we will continue our exploration of the capital of the Rinascimento (Renaissance). We will enter the monuments like Cupola del Brunelleschi, which is still the tallest building of Florence and was designed by Giotto and Brunelleschi. We will then visit the famous market and have some delicious street food and head to La Basilica di Santa Croce, where people like Niccola Machiavelli, Galileo Galilei, Michelangelo rest in peace. Not only will we see the tombs of the Italian greats, but also great paintings such as the Giotto. Finally, we will head to see the copy of the David of Donatello, which is situated in front of one of the most beautiful public offices in the world, Palazzo Vecchio, which is actually the city hall of Florence.Florence Hotel
April 4Florence - USAToday we will return to Milan for our direct flight back to New York. Your own bed, eventually!

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Accommodations

In order to provide a safe and memorable experience, we follow strict guidelines when choosing program accommodations. Walking Tree partners with hotels and guest houses which are centrally located, clean and safe.  We vet and inspect the accommodations to ensure they uphold the ethos of our programs, are great values for our travelers and nice places to rest after enriching days of travel.  

Below are the accommodations we anticipate using on your trip, subject to availability. 
Hotel Palazzo Delle Stelline Milan

Hotel Palazzo Delle Stelline is set in a former convent in the historic center of one of the best neighborhoods of Milan, next to the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie where the famous Leonardo da Vinci fresco, The Last Supper, resides. The rooms offer modern amenities, such as free Wi-Fi and overlook the quiet courtyard. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.

B&B Hotel Firenze City Center

The B&B Hotel Firenze City Center is located in the very center of the city in the Santa Croce district, and a ten minute walk from the Basilica in Florence. This three star hotel includes Wi-Fi, air conditioning and private bathrooms. Students will be split between double and triple rooms based on gender.

Group Flight

Once your flight has been confirmed, the itinerary will appear here.

Walking Tree will secure a seat on the group flight for each participant unless otherwise instructed.

Travelers are responsible for checked baggage fees. Please visit the airline’s baggage webpage to learn if you should expect to pay anything.

We will provide a group manifest – complete with reservation codes and ticket numbers – to the Group Organizer/s before departure, and travelers will need to check in at the airport in order to receive their boarding pass and have documents verified. We recommend arriving no later than three hours prior to the scheduled departure, but contact your Group Organizer for specific details on exactly where and when to meet on the day of departure.

FLIGHT INTERRUPTION, DELAY OR CANCELLATION 
Air travel can be unpredictable.  Regardless of proper planning, there may still be instances when a flight is delayed or cancelled due to staffing shortages, weather, mechanical problems, etc.  Please note that in such an event, Walking Tree Travel (WTT) is not financially responsible for unanticipated costs incurred by travelers en route.  Our programs officially begin and end in the destination country, and because our staff doesn’t fly with the group, Group Organizers (the traveling faculty member/s) become the front-line advocate for the group in the event of a delay. In most cases of cancellations or delays, the airline will be the one who re-books travel or possibly arranges a hotel and food the night.  Our primary role will be to  keep families updated and provide support to the Group Organizer to reach a  quick and effective resolution.

Host Community and Project Details

Packing List

What follows is a sample packing list but you know yourself better than we do so please adjust accordingly. We recommend you bring a larger piece of luggage like a roller, duffel bag, or backpack, as well as a smaller backpack that you can bring on daily outings, weekend excursions and shorter activities.

“Less is more” is a packing tip we encourage for all our travelers. The list below should cover everything you would need, but know yourself and what you are comfortable traveling with.  We suggest bringing only as much as you would be able to carry on your own.

Finally, we recommend consulting a weather forecast for your destination. 

Most importantly, be sure to remember your PASSPORT!

CLOTHES (quantities depend on your trip length) :

  • Underwear
  • Socks (a mixture of good active socks and casual socks)
  • T-shirts (some quick dry)
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Sweaters or sweatshirts
  • Underwear
  • Shorts
  • Rain jacket
  • Travel/athletic shorts that are breathable and light
  • Comfortable, everyday pants
  • Nice shirt/top to be worn to more formal dinners (girls might want a skirt or something a little nicer for such occasions)
  • Durable athletic/walking shoes
  • Sandals (optional)
  • Hat

TOILETRIES: BRING THE BASIC TOILETRIES YOU NEED PLUS:

  • Sunscreen (you will use a lot)
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Band Aids and Neosporin
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Medication in properly marked original container

MISCELLANEOUS:

  • Sunglasses
  • Journal and pen
  • Book
  • Camera (digital, disposable, waterproof)
  • Power Converter
  • Alarm Clock and watch
  • Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $50-$150, depending on amount of desired souvenirs, extra items etc.)
  • Durable water bottle
  • 1 quick-dry towel
  • Flashlight/headlamp
  • Batteries
  • Deck of cards or other portable games
  • STUDENT ID

Support Team

At a minimum, one experienced Program Leader will travel on every trip. In addition to this full time leadership presence, Walking Tree has additional support staff in all destinations and 24/7 support from our headquarters in Denver, Colorado. Below you’ll find a list of the team members involved in the planning, organizing, and leadership of your program.

Michael Manchester
Michael Manchester
Italy Country Director


Lewis and Clark College – B.A. in Communications

Born in Denver, Colorado Mike earned a B.A. in Communications from Lewis and Clark College. After college Mike moved to Siena, Italy where he had studied abroad. In 2004 he co-founded the study abroad program Siena Italian Studies where he is a program coordinator and Service-Learning coordinator. He also founded an English language program for the Siena public elementary schools and kindergartens and is on the board of directors for the city’s “Le Mura” organization that protects, maintains, and promotes Siena’s medieval walls. He is an experienced translator having worked with the AC Siena professional soccer team and a local culinary school. Mike has traveled extensively throughout Italy and Europe. He is fluent in Italian and can converse in Spanish and French. When not working with students you can probably find Mike in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes or somewhere outside enjoying fresh air.

Devin Toletti
Devin Toletti
Italy Country Director; Germany Country Director


Bologna University – B.A. Political Science and International Relations

Born to an Italian father and a Canadian-Austrian mother, Devin grew up in Varese which is in Northern Italy between Milan and Switzerland. He grew up with a love for winter sports, dividing his winters between hockey and skiing. In summer he would enjoy mountain biking around the Alps and try to water ski as much as possible. After finishing school, in the English section of the European School, he went to Bologna University and achieved a B.A in Political Science and International Relations. In Bologna he also discovered his passion for food and teaching. Devin is now living in the exciting capital of Germany, Berlin, where he is a bike tour guide, part time cook, and English teacher.

Gabriel Duncan
Gabriel Duncan
Co-Founder of Walking Tree Travel and Business Lead - Denver, CO


Colby College – B.A. International Relations and Government

While at Colby, Gabriel spent a semester in Spain at the University of Salamanca studying contemporary Spanish politics and Spanish language. He also lettered for four-years on Colby’s lacrosse team and earned All-American honors. After graduating, Gabriel hit the road. He fished commercially in Alaska, taught in Chile and China, led programs for students in Spain and Costa Rica, and traveled to over 50 countries and all 50 states in the USA. Regardless of where Gabriel is located, he is constantly haunted by his naive faith and unconditional love for Denver sports teams.

Group Roster

Below is a list of the travelers enrolled on the program.

Blog and Communication

During travel we will work hard to keep families updated as frequently as possible with blogs and photos, giving you peace of mind that your traveler is safe and thriving on their program.  Students regularly contribute to these posts, giving parents a great way to vicariously track the progress of the trip. You will receive an email notification when the first blog is posted, after which we recommend you check in regularly via the black “Program Blog” button at the top of this page.

Beyond this proactive approach to communication during the trip, most destinations are wired enough to allow participants semi-regular access to WiFi so you can also expect to communicate with your traveler directly. Ask your Walking Tree representative about the degree of connectivity on your program.

 

GLC Curriculum

Walking Tree has developed a curriculum of activities meant to help travelers get the most out of their trip before departure, during travel and after they return home. These simple and engaging activities are meant to spark discussion, frame experiences, and prepare participants to travel ethically and effectively both on this trip and on future adventures.

For more information about student learning objectives and the format of the curriculum, click on the ‘learn more’ button below.

Learn More About the GLC

To view and complete the Pre-Program Activities, visit our online portal at the button below.

Pre-Program Activity Portal

Standards of Behavior

In order to run a safe and successful program, it is important that we create an environment of trust, security and respect. All individuals participating in our programs are required to take responsibility for their actions and adhere to a high standard of behavioral conduct.

ABSOLUTE DISMISSAL

  1.  Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
  2. Associating with participants while they are in possession of, or are consuming, or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
  3. Behaving in a way that consistently damages the group dynamic or jeopardizes personal or group safety.
  4. This includes consistently displaying a negative attitude, intimidating or excluding other participants, sneaking out, disobeying group leaders, and any other behavior that is not conducive to an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.

GROUNDS FOR DISMISSAL OR IN-COUNTRY CONSEQUENCE

  1. Getting a piercing or tattoo.
  2. Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials.
  3. Threatening physical or emotional harm, or brandishing a weapon.
  4. Possessing, consuming, or distributing tobacco or nicotine, including vape pens.
  5. Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle.
  6. Being out of designated area or accommodations after curfew.
  7. Breaking group rules.

These standards of behavior are essential for the successful completion of your program. Please take the time to review these as a family and make sure everyone understands and agrees to them.

Health and Safety

We strongly recommend visiting the CDC Italy website to get the most updated information on health and vaccination considerations in your destination country. In addition, we encourage you to consult with your personal family physician so you can be as informed as possible when making important decisions about vaccinations and other necessary health-related preparations before travel.

Our in-country staff prepare meticulously for all programs. Walking Tree will register our programs and travelers with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in case of emergency. In country staff also verify the safety records of our partner organizations, vendors, and transportation providers, thoroughly vet homestay families via in depth interviews and home visits, and keep up on important current events in the region.

Program Leaders are seasoned travelers who are CPR and First Aid certified, undergo thorough training in crisis management, and participate in a multi-day leadership training retreat. We do our best to prepare for any eventuality and have detailed emergency protocols for our leaders, in-country staff and U.S.-based staff.

We receive medical disclosures from all participants to ensure we are able to meet every students’ needs during the program. Please inform us immediately of any additional health issues that you did not list during your initial registration process. Program Leaders will also hold an online information session before your departure, as well as an arrival orientation in-country, in order to give participants important instructions on food safety, hygiene and preventing injury and illness. Leaders and in-country staff always respond immediately to any mental, physical or emotional health issues and follow comprehensive emergency protocols.

Insurance

While we work hard to ensure the safest experience possible for our travelers on program, experience teaches that travel is never without risk. For this reason, we recommend that all travelers consider a travel insurance policy with  two additional provisions: Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) and Bed Rest. Detailed explanations of both provisions can be found on the link below.

To provide families with a quality option, Walking Tree has partnered with Travel Insured International, one of the most respected providers in the industry.  Begin by getting a quote here.

IMPORTANT NOTE: in order to secure coverage with CFAR included, you must purchase the plan within 21 days of your deposit/first payment. You must also insure 100% of your trip cost, so program tuition + flight.

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