Annual School Trip
School Tour: Italy 2018.
The first thing to say is thank you to the whole COGO team and in particular to Ms. Silvia Ferraro for all of her hard work on our behalf.
The tour this year was to Florence and Lake Garda.
The group met at Dublin airport for the early morning flight to Bologna. The 66 students and 7 staff members were all very excited and eager to begin the trip. Ryanair were very good as their people facilitated us with the check in of the 3 students who had not been checked in online due to some IT glitch. The flight to Bologna was uneventful. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the baggage carousel which put us behind schedule by almost an hour. The coach driver ‘Bruno’ proved to be excellent throughout the week. He had a good rapport with the students. We travelled to Florence for a pre-arranged walking tour of the city. The tour was good and both guides were very pleasant. The group then transferred to the Hotel Impero. The hotel was a bit old world but I don’t think that any of the students even noticed this as most were beginning to flag a little after the early morning start.
The group enjoyed a full day visit to Florence with the three scheduled visits to the Uffizi gallery, Museo Galileo and the Accademia Gallery. Entry to the Uffizi even with prebooked tickets is very slow because of the body scanner [there was only one working!]. It took us an hour to get through this part. How long people without prebooked tickets waited is anyone’s guess. The Museo Galileo was excellent except unfortunately the admission staff were horrible [the only people we met all week who were not kind and helpful.] The Accademia was of much interest to some of our older art students. The layout is a bit confusing inside and not well signposted as to the displays. After the day in Florence the group drove to Hotel San Zeno. It is a most spectacular setting for a hotel. The rooms were of a good standard. The hotel was well maintained and was spotlessly clean. It was a family run hotel. The two sisters who owned the hotel relied heavily on a very pleasant gentleman from Bangladesh who seemed to know everything that needed to be known about the hotel.
The group had an excellent day in Verona and the guides were very good. The students enjoyed a good amount of free time to wander around the central area and shopping streets. We also visited the La Grande Mela shopping centre on the outskirts of the city. Frankly it is not worth bothering about except for the Bowling alley which went down very well with the students.
The group travelled to Modena in the morning and then on to the Ferrari museum. Everyone seemed to enjoy the visit to the Balsamic vinegar factory. Needless to say the visit to Ferrari was very popular. Unfortunately, one of the group had to miss out as he was having his appendix removed in the local hospital. The hospital in Peschiera del Garda was fantastic and the staff were excellent. Google translate proved to be an excellent friend! I felt that the Italian Health Care system really put ours to shame.
I asked the teachers how the trip to Modena and Ferrari went. They said that the visit to the Balsamic vinegar factory was excellent. They said that the students enjoyed Ferrari very much but that the tour of Modena was perhaps a little boring for some of the younger students.
Parco Natura Viva proved to be a good substitute when Gardaland Theme Park was not available. It was a very well organised Safari Park. The park had a good selection of fast food cafes etc on site. In the afternoon the group took the cable car to the top of Monte Baldo which was spectacularly snow covered. There were some skiers on the mountain and also a number of dare devil paragliders. Our students enjoyed an impromptu snowball fight. The day was made complete by the visit to Aquardens which is a very good facility. The swimming facilities, pools, slides etc were enjoyed by all.
On the final day the group went to Sirmione where they enjoyed a boat trip on the lake and a potter around the town before heading for the airport. The group stopped at McDonalds for a very quick lunch. At the airport we checked in very slowly for the Aer Lingus flight due to a lack of check in staff and made straight for the gate. On return to Dublin the students were met by their parents in the arrivals area of the airport. Overall, the trip was enjoyed by all those who travelled.