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Ciao, Amore Mio! Mississippi College Spring Break Tour 2024 to Explore ‘Beautiful Country’ of Italy

Ciao, Amore Mio! Mississippi College Spring Break Tour 2024 to Explore ‘Beautiful Country’ of Italy

The country of Italy is a popular tourist destination, filled with historic charm, romantic settings, and natural beauty. Situated in South-central Europe and occupying a peninsula that extends into the Mediterranean Sea, it includes some of the most diverse and scenic places on Earth.

The rugged Alps stand at its top, anchoring a pair of coastal plains that face the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Adriatic Sea, respectively. The country gradually tapers into the Mediterranean, where the islands of Sicily and Sardinia hold sway.

The capital, Rome, is one of the oldest of the world’s great cities, and the country boasts several other metropolitan meccas, including Venice, Florence, Pisa, Assisi, and Vatican City, the seat of the Roman Catholic Church.

Italian culture has introduced the world to exceptional cuisine, from pasta and risotto to gelato and tiramisu; the incredible artistry of the Italian Renaissance; emotion-packed operatic performances; distinctive fashion houses and designer trends; luxury sports cars; and a proud native population that demonstrates a zest for life.

Several years have passed since Mississippi College’s annual Spring Break Tour visited “The Boot,” and Ivan Parke, director of the tour, believes it’s time for a return trip during the Mississippi College Spring Break Tour ‘24.

“The Mississippi College Spring Break Tour balances new adventures and familiar places,” said Parke, professor and assistant to the chair in the Department of Christian Studies. “Dr. Beth Stapleton last led a group to Italy in 2017. Seven years seemed like a long enough time to pass before returning there.”

Mississippi College faculty, staff, and students, as well as members of the community, will participate in the eight-day excursion that starts in Venice in northern Italy and proceeds southward through the Tuscany region, including the cities of Pisa and Florence, and the Umbria region, including the city of Assisi, before concluding in Vatican City and Rome. Led by Italian guides, a personal coach will ferry the group to the most scenic and historically significant areas.

The trip will feature a walking tour of Venice, including St. Mark’s Square, with its extraordinary treasures and architectural wonders; a visit to the Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa and its famous leaning tower; a guided walking tour of the Renaissance city of Florence; a visit to the 13th-century Basilica di San Francesco in Assisi; a tour of the Vatican Museums and Michelangelo’s incomparable Sistine Chapel; and a historic tour of Ancient Rome, including the Roman Forum and the Colosseum or Palatine Hill.

“We will see what is popular, such as Venice, what is religious, such as Assisi and Vatican City, and what is historic, such as Rome,” said Parke, who has visited the country twice before: He and his wife toured Rome in 2004 and Tuscany in 2019. “We are excited to return to both places. We are equally excited to go where we have not been: Venice, Pisa, and Assisi.”

Bill Saint Sing, president of MPE Employee Benefit Services, participated in the MC Spring Break Tour to London, Normandy, and Paris in 2021. He and his wife have never visited Italy, but they expect next year’s tour to be just as remarkable.

“I am looking forward to the many iconic sites in Italy, particularly Rome and Venice,” Saint Sing said. “On our previous trip, we enjoyed traveling with people we knew, as well as new acquaintances. It is a great experience to travel abroad with friends and enjoy new experiences together.

“I would highly recommend traveling abroad with the MC Spring Break Tour. It is extremely well organized, provides guided experiences as well as time to explore on your own, very nice accommodations, and some meals and great leadership with Dr. Parke.”

Dr. Christopher Weeks, MC associate professor of biology and 2018 London Semester professor, will serve as Parke’s assistant on the tour. The group will stay in four-star hotels and enjoy free time in Venice, Florence, and Rome.

“Our itinerary will be similar to previous tours of Italy, but the travelers are never the same,” Parke said. “We have a wonderful group of folks registered.”

Parke schedules planning meetings in January and February, and the group meets five times during the spring. Current and former MC professors offer their expertise during these free sessions to help participants prepare for the trip.

Travelers are required to obtain an up-to-date passport that will remain valid for at least 90 days after they leave the country. Knowledge of the Italian language would be helpful, but not required – the Italian guides speak English, which is spoken throughout Italy.

The MC Spring Break Tour is a great way to see the world. Consider it as an option for a future adventure.