Travel Blog

September 22, 2022

Two schools from Wollongong set out on an educational adventure

Last night at 9.05pm, 26 students and 3 teachers from St Mary’s Star of the Sea College Wollongong and St Joseph’s Catholic High School in Albion Park set out on a 24-day journey of discovery and cultural immersion to Italy.

On this adventure, the group will explore the best of Italy on a customised tour. Highlights include Venice, Verona, Florence, Rome and a small town in the region of Umbria, where all travellers get the opportunity to first-hand experience Italian culture. From September 21 – October 3, the students will be hosted by Italian families and attend a local high school with their host brothers and sisters.

This is the third educational trip Exchange Me has organised for St Mary’s and St Joseph’s. Thanks to Michael Timpano, Norina Todhunter and Maria Oliverio for their great collaboration.

Educational Highlights

This educational trip is not only a great opportunity for students to travel overseas, but also to improve their language and social skills. Whilst in Gualdo Tadino, the students will receive an additional 12 hours of Italian language lessons. They will also learn about the Italian high school system and have the opportunity to first-hand discover cultural differences between Italy and Australia. Living in an Italian speaking family and interactions with locals help students to utilise the knowledge previously gained in the classroom. From previous trips, the teachers and parents have found that participants return more independent, with a broader general knowledge, advanced problem solving skills and life-long friendships.

Cultural Highlights


The first stop on the educational trip is Venice, where the group will spend 3 nights. Activities include visits to the Basilica of St Mark, Doges Palace, the Bridge of Sighs and the prison. Another highlight is an excursion to the islands of Murano and Burano. Murano is famous for its glass making. Students will have the opportunity to participate in a workshop, make their own glass ornament and take it home with them. Burano is known as the ‘lace island’, where travellers can view the ladies making lace and purchase items. On the way from Venice to Florence, the group will travel to Verona to visit Romeo & Juliet’s House and enjoy an authentic Italian lunch.


Highlights in Florence include visits to the Galleria dell’Accademia and the Uffizi Gallery. A very unique part of the group’s stay in Florence is an Italian cooking lesson. The students will learn how to cook traditional Florentine meals feast on their own creations.

Gualdo Tadino

The most unique part of this educational trip is the 12-day homestay in Gualdo Tadino. Each day, the students will attend school with their host brother or sister and spend the rest of the day with their friends and host families. They will also go on excursions to neighbouring towns. Gualdo Tadino is an ancient town in the province of Perugia in northeastern Umbria.


Highlights in Rome include the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, the Forums and the Pantheon. On one day, the group will be taken to the Vatican to participate in the Papal Audience with the Pope, do a tour of the Sistine Chapel, the museums and St Peters Basilica. Whilst staying in Rome, the students will also take a trip to Monte Cassino and Frascati.

If you want to follow this group’s journey, make sure you like our Facebook page. We will post updates throughout the three weeks.

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