Day Eighteen Arrivederci Roma!!

This morning was a later start than yesterday, as we were heading to the famous Colosseum in the centre of Rome.

After we circled the amphitheater, observing what was once an entertainment arena capable of holding an estimated 80,000 people, we set off to Piazza Navona, via the ‘Mouth of Truth’, for a bite to eat at one of the wide range of restaurants.

Following this, we went to one of the most expensive streets of fashion in Rome, Via Del Corso, with brands ranging from H&M to Louis Vuitton.

To end our tour with the whole study group together, we adventured to the Trevi Fountain after dinner, where we enjoyed one of Rome’s finest gelati, which in my opinion was one of the best ways to conclude a very memorable three weeks for the group!

By Jarrod C

Visit to Oblate House

St Eugene's Chapel

Oblate House

St Eugene

View from Oblate House rooftop

Oblate Expansion Map

Rooftop view from Oblate House

Day Seventeen

Today was a big day. And when I say ‘big’ I’m talking ‘Bunnings announcing they are now putting onions under sausages in bread to reduce trip hazards’ big. A day which began with us all excitedly waking to the peaceful sounds of a ringing phone at 5:45am, transitioned into one of much greater excitement. This early departure was necessary as we needed to be at the Vatican faster than a rat up a drain pipe for the very special opportunity Father Fini had managed to secure for us; Mass in the Vatican. Gathered together in a small yet intimate chapel near the tomb of St Peter below the Basilica, we all celebrated mass. This was an amazing opportunity we were all very grateful for, especially at the home of the Catholic Church. A special thanks must be given to Father, who secured this for us, and who we also said ‘goodbye’ to today. After mass, our religious-themed day then continued with a tour of the Vatican itself, as well as an exploration through the world famous Vatican Museum; I can safely say all the boys could appreciate the beauty of some of the most famous pieces in the world by Michelangelo in the Sistene Chapel. Following our extensive tour of the Vatican, we then had the opportunity to explore Rome itself, before catching a train to the headquarters of the Oblates. We took a guided tour, explored the Oblate Museum and saw the chapel and then got to see the impressive views from the top of the Oblate House, which offered a spectacular panorama of the whole city of Rome. From here, the boys could truly take in the sheer size of the city, as well as the towering influence of the St Peter’s Basilica over Rome. It was a picturesque end to one of the more action packed and sacred days of the trip.

By Jordan T

Day Sixteen

On the final Sunday of what has become an extremely fulfilling trip we visited the town of Pompeii, and then made our way to our final destination: Rome.

Pompeii was a city that nearly 2000 years ago was buried under 6 metres of ash by Mount Vesuvius. It was great for all the boys to experience how Roman settlements in the time of their rule were situated, organised and constructed. It was also very interesting for us all to have a look at the plaster casts that the archeologists have put on the bodies of some of the unfortunate victims to preserve them.

After seeing the town of Pompeii, we had lunch in a classic Neapolitan restaurant. We enjoyed a nice plate of pasta accompanied by some delicious pizza.

In Rome, we hope to see the capital of this amazing country (and settle an age-old score between Napoli and Roma to decide which city’s pizza is truly the best).

By Mark P

Day Fifteen

The first proper day in Sorrento started off by all of us having a massive breakfast in the hotel, which many of us regretted eating later on! Shortly after, our voyage began, travelling to the beautiful island of Capri, known for its beautiful views, expensive fashion and lemons (in particular for limoncello). A few stragglers failed to keep their breakfast in during the boat trip on the way to Capri due to unfortunate weather causing the seas to be very choppy, however, it was worth it as we got to experience Capri. Our guide Martina was very kind and knowledgeable; she shared with us many facts about the Isle. After many photos were taken, our trip was cut a little short due to the unfortunate weather, and we just managed to catch the last ferry out. The boat trip back to Sorrento was a lot calmer (many of us prepared for the worst). The lunch after Capri, in Sorrento, was very nice and tasty, perfect for those who had lost their breakfast in the depths of the sea. After lunch, we all went to our hotel to freshen up before heading of to mass in the local cathedral. The mass was all in Italian, and after the mass we all took a photo with the Priest who really made us all feel a part of the community. We then had some free time to enjoy the atmosphere in Sorrento and do some shopping at the Christmas Markets. Today was a fantastic day and it really saddens us to leave such a beautiful city. Arrivederci Sorrento.

By Harry G

Day Fourteen

This morning we left Florence and headed to Sorrento. During our long journey we stopped at the city of Assisi and saw the beautiful churches of Santa Chiara and San Francesco. The town of Assisi is very famous as it was the birthplace of the highly venerated Saint Francis. During his lifetime, he created the order of the Franciscans and contributed heavily to proper management in the Catholic Church. We were lucky enough to be able to visit the tomb of St Francis below the church of San Francesco. After a long bus ride, we arrived at our hotel in Sorrento at around 7, very tired but happy to be here and looking forward to the days to come.

By Marcus C

Day Thirteen

With only a week left of this wonderful trip where we have been experiencing pure Italian culture, today we traveled to Pisa. As we took the train to Pisa some students enjoyed reading an Italian novel with the profs in preparation for next year’s Italian courses. When we arrived some of us decided to take the courage to walk 275 steps of the most famous tower in Italy. We learnt that the leaning tower of Pisa is 58.36m in height, and when we arrived to the top, we saw the beautiful sights of Pisa and the mountains in the background. After Pisa we walked back to the station in the rain to take the train back to Florence to relax and enjoy our remaining time in Florence.

By Bradley C

Day Twelve

Today the group travelled first to San Gimignano and then to Siena. Both trips were made by bus. After a short walk in San Gimignano, we were presented with a beautiful view of the trees and houses beneath us. After this, we walked over to the store that sells the “Best Gelato in the World”. The name doesn’t lie; the gelato was nothing short of a delicious treat for our taste buds! Once we finished our gelato we made our way back to the bus and headed off to Siena.

By Donté V

Following the quick visit to San Gimignano, we departed on an hour long bus trip to Siena, where we met up with our tour guide who gave us a brief history of the various land marks and city's districts. Our first stop was at the Basilica of San Domenico, containing the preserved remains of St. Catherine's head and thumb. The basilica also had the flags of the 17 rival districts of Siena, who compete against each other in a twice-annual horse race. Soon after, we walked to the Siena Cathedral (Duomo), where we learned about the various peices of art and sculpture. The inside of the cathedral also contained an unfinished memorial made by Michelangelo.

By Dylan K

Day Eleven

The beginning of the journey in Florence commenced in the Uffizi Gallery, where we learnt about the Renaissance and the history of each artist and how painting transformed over time. Also, we explored the meaning amongst each painting and the way in which it expresses its meaning through specific symbols. Following this, we were given free time that allowed us to wonder through the Florence market that is mainly focused on leather items. Directly after, we visited "La Galleria dell'Accademia" in which we spent time admiring the fascinating statue of David. Next the boys went to Ponte Vecchio and a couple of them were fortunate enough to purchase some jewellery. To finish the day, we were given a delicious dinner that consisted of ravioli, scallopini and cake.

By Ricky T

Day Ten

Today we got up early to begin our departure from Venezia. We started our day with a quick breakfast, and a thorough check of the apartments before a 2 hour bus ride to Bologna. We made a stop at an Autogrill just before Bologna to freshen up with some snacks, drinks and toilet breaks. After the Autogrill, we made it to Bologna and the Profs gave us free time to get some food. Most of us got the traditional cuisine that originates from Bologna, such as the tagliatelle with bolognese or the tortellini alla ragu.

It had been a great day so far, and it was only getting better as we made our way to the Ferrari museum.

By Ben M

Ah, the Ferrari Museum, a place where young boys and men alike can gawk at very expensive vehicles of luxury and prestige. We the students, the profs and Father Fini were given a tour of the Ferrari museum, we were shown many old classics like the Ferrari Dino, which Enzo Ferrari (the creator of Ferrari) dedicated to his late son Alfredino Ferrari, and a modern Ferrari the Ferrari Fxx-k worth approx 2.1 million USD. Overall the boys can all agree it was a good experience seeing all these works of art and we all hope to one day own these cars.

By Jarrod F

Day Nine

Today we got up early to begin our journey around Venice. We started our day with a boat trip to St Mark's Square and participated in a mass spoken in the Italian vernacular at St Mark's Basilica. After Mass, Harry and Caelan led the boys to the Rialto Bridge, where everyone was given some time to get some food and explore the rest of Venice. Upon our return, we met Father Fini and set out to traverse the rest of the city, and getting lost in the thousands of streets in Venice. After the long walk, we were rewarded with some gelati. Finally, for dinner we enjoyed some lasagna, and some scallopini. Overall it was a great day, and we are sad to be leaving this beautiful city so soon.

By Oscar M

Day Eight


Following a wonderful home stay program in Milano, we reluctantly departed to commence our travels elsewhere. Bearing the sadness of leaving our host families behind (and reminded of our own families), we travelled to Venezia after first stopping for the day in Verona.

Despite our lack of sleep from the previous night, we arrived eagerly at Verona. We visited Juliet’s house from the famous Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet, climbed the Torre dei Lamberti and experienced the variety of foods that the Christmas market had to offer for lunch, before embarking on our journey to Venezia.

Finally arriving at Hotel Tre Archi, we settled in for our stay of two nights before heading out to dinner. After yet another amazing day, we can barely wait for the opportunities we will experience on the rest of this trip, although we definitely need some sleep first.

By Luca P

NOTE: A tradition in Verona is visiting Juliet's house. After entering in to the courtyard of the house you will find yourself in front of a bronze statue representing Shakespeare’s heroine ... It is believed that touching her breast brings good luck! More information in the link below

Day Seven

Today we had a historical adventure to the small city of Bergamo. Prior to this adventure this place would have had no relevance to us; however we learnt it made an enormous contribution to the modern world as we know it. The small town is linked to Giuseppe Garibaldi, the famous Italian general and nationalist who contributed to the Italian unification and the creation of the Kingdom of Italy. Without this famous historical figure, Italy as we know it would be nonexistent.

We started the day with a train ride from Centrale Station in Milan to Bergamo. When we arrived it became evident that some of the boys did not dress for the occasion as the town was almost freezing and fog filled the streets. The day consisted of lunch at a pizzeria, sight seeing at the top of the town and the tour of the Museo alla Rocca. The views from the fortress allowed us to see the entire city and the surrounding mountains. After the tour we made our way down to the new city where all the boys were subjected to Prof. Cranston’s photo calls. It was a tiring day; however it was empowering to learn of such an inspirational man who shaped the Modern World.

By Chris C

Day Six (Soccer)

Oggi sera (tonight) all the A.C Milan attire was broken out and the boys set out to San Siro Stadium to see what would be for most, our first European game of calcio (football/soccer). None of us knew what to expect, other than the cold weather. Eager to be seated, we arrived at the stadium at 6 PM for a 7:00 kick off. Surrounded by Italian street food and loud music, we knew we were in for a quality night.

Immediately the Milan ultras (fanatics) got the culture flowing, with chants and flags left, right and centre; the boys were tight in the middle of an environment like no other, a culture that could only be experienced firsthand.

The game was well underway, with locals yelling and chanting, the boys made the best attempt to soak it all up and stay warm in the process. FINALLY the first goal had been scored 16 minutes in, the result, a stadium filled with Milan supporters roaring, it truely was contagious, looking around seeing all the boys contributing to the celebrations.

With a 5-2 win Milan’s way, soccer fans or not, we all experienced a night that we will all hold on to for many years to come. A perfect conclusion to our time in Milan, as well as an awesome opportunity to see another side of the city’s passion, in something other than fashion.

By Josh C

Day Five

Today was our last day of Italian school and at the end of the lessons we received our certificates. After an emotional goodbye we headed off to lunch and continued to enjoy the local cuisine. With a re-energized group we headed off to an area that hosts some of the most iconic shops around the world in a place known as The Golden Quadrangle. From there we made our way to the most famous opera house in the world, Teatro alla Scala. With a prize up for grabs to the first person to find Giuditta Pasta it was engulfed by eager participants. Upon leaving, we headed to the highly anticipated soccer match at the San Siro.

By Nick P

Day Four

After a hard working day at the Academy, we proceeded to the centre square where we indulged in panzarotti for lunch. After having lunch we decided to partake in the stereotypical ritual of having gelati. Barbara, a tour guide in Milan, brought us around the fashion capital of Italy and also lead us through the historical past of Milan. We visited the Duomo, Galeria Vittorio Emanuelle II and Castello Sforzesco, which hold the last known sculpture made by Michelangelo Buonarotti. To conclude the day, Barbara brought us to a Church in which the painting of The Last Supper lines one of the walls. It was great to see the amazing history of this amazing city. It was interesting to examine the paintings of Leonardo Da Vinci and how his works had and still do have an impact on not only Italy, and indeed the world.

By Orazio

Day Three

After another Italian session at school we had a quick lunch in the centre of the city. The numerous traditional Italian restaurants and cafes at our disposal caused some students to quite literally bite off more than they could chew. After this, we braved the intense and bustling Milan underground railway system that put the Melbourne Metro to shame, just managing to pack inside the train before the doors closed in a close shave that would have impressed the likes of James Bond. We then promptly arrived at our destination to stare face to face with the almost monolithic San Siro stadium, a far cry from the medieval gothic cathedrals seen earlier in the trip but nonetheless an impressive structure, graced by socc - I mean ‘football’ - legends such as Paolo Maldini and Javier Zanetti. This whet our appetite nicely for Thursday night, when we will see how the current AC Milan team fare against minnows from Luxembourg.

By Harry M, Alex and Caelan

Day Two

On the second day we all begrudgingly made peace with the fact that we had to actually do some Italian on this fantastic excuse for a holiday and thus we attended our first day of language school. We took a nerve-racking assessment test to place us into our appropriate classes, but either way the prospect of doing a lesson spoken entirely in Italian (who’d have thought?) was a daunting one to all involved. To our pleasant surprise our fantastic teachers Lorenzo and Francesca were patient and fun to learn from. Afterwards we dove into the centre of the city with the numerous significant political and historical sights pointed out by Mr Young, who taught us about the divisive impacts of fascism that can still be seen around Italy to this day. After having lunch in the shadow of the magnificent Duomo di Milano, made ever beautiful by the afternoon sunshine, Mrs Noone and Mrs Cranston managed to skillfully navigate enough red tape to gift wrap a small moon to grant us the privilege of a session of prayer in front of the altar of the the cathedral. Overall, it was a great day of faith, education and fun.

Day One

After an exhausting 21 hour flight we finally touched down in Milan where we met our host families and tried to combat the overbearing jet lag that followed. It was here, on Sunday, that we visited the beautiful and ancient city of Como, learning the gossip of the various scandals that took place in Renaissance Italy, be it rowing your boat across the lake to your mistress; or being stabbed by your mistress; or having three mistresses with the same name; or fighting to the death for your mistress! All these vignettes were shared with us by our extremely knowledgeable tour guide Ettore, who taught us the most valuable lesson of today, which was that George Clooney‘s villa on the shores of the stunning Lake Como was not the only interesting aspect of the city. For it was also the place where the dictator Benito Mussolini was executed and was also where the first ever battery was created by the brilliant scientist Alessandro Volta. Topped off by a quaint Christmas market place selling goods ranging from leather flat caps to liquorice lollies. But food wasn’t the only thing on our minds; during our tour we looked around the many churches dotted around Como, where we saw an actual part of the cross of Jesus Christ and the bones of the city’s patron saint.

We're Off!!!!

Photo Credits - Orazio Rossello, 11 GAV