Our Youth

The Ancient Cities of Europe Come Alive for Bishop Kearney Students

by Melanie Maffei and Alessia Giarracca 

For the past 40 years, the foreign language department at Bishop Kearney H.S., Bensonhurst, has sponsored many travel/study trips to Europe.

This year, 84 students traveled throughout Spain, France and Italy with 12 faculty chaperones.

“When we first advertised the trip, we hoped to fill one bus with 42 students and six chaperones,” said Maryanne Maffei and Maria Giarracca,  foreign language teachers and  coordinators of the trip. “We were amazed when we received more than 100 deposits from very enthusiastic students. In the end, we decided to take 40 juniors and 44 seniors.”

The itinerary was action-packed, educational and lots of fun. The group met tour directors in Madrid, Spain, and boarded motor coach buses to immediately see and explore the city. They visited the Prado Museum and saw the great works of Murillo, Goya, Velazquez and El Greco.

After some long-awaited sleep, the next morning the Kearney girls and chaperones had a guided tour of Spain’s capital, highlighted by the Plaza de Espana, the Cervantes Monument, the Plaza Mayor, la Puerta del Sol and the Palacio Real. In the afternoon, they ventured to picturesque Toledo.

On their way to Barcelona, they visited the beautiful city of Zaragoza to admire the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Pilar.

Upon arriving in Barcelona, they ventured to Las Ramblas, the famous boulevard where they were able to taste churros con chocolate, mingle with the locals and take a long walk to the ocean.

They had the opportunity to go to Mass in one of the small chapels inside the famous la Catedral de la Sagrada Familia, the unfinished cathedral by the famous architect Antoni Gaudi.

The next day started very early because the group travelled to France and was anxious to explore Aix-en-Provence, the “city of fountains,” and Avignon, the one-time seat of the papacy.

Upon saying “au revoir” to France, the group crossed the border into Italy to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

“It really does lean,” commented many of the students.

The following day started early for this Kearney crowd because there was so much to see in the beautiful city of Florence. The group walked to the Accademia di Belle Arti, where they were all awed by the statue of Michelangelo’s David. They visited Il Duomo, Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistry with the Doors of Paradise by Bernini, the Cathedral of Santa Croce and Ponte Vecchio.

The last day of the journey was spent exploring Italy’s capital, Rome, the Eternal City.  In Vatican City, they visited St. Peter’s Basilica, the world’s largest church, and the Sistine Chapel for views of Michelangelo’s superbly painted ceiling.

They­­­ learned more about the ancient Roman civilization by visiting the Forum and the Colosseum, where gladiators and beasts once fought.  The group tossed coins in the Fountain of Trevi and climbed the Spanish Steps. They enjoyed free time to eat delicious pasta, pizza and, of course, gelato.

Junior Kristin Ferrigno said her favorite part of the trip was going to places she has never been before. She experienced new foods, new cultures and different ways of life.

Fellow junior Nicole Hadzovic said the one thing she really enjoyed about the trip was the overall experience of getting to see a whole new part of the world and enjoying it with friends.

Senior Markova Casseus said this was the first time she was ever overseas, and it certainly encouraged her to travel more often in the future.

Janelle Bently, senior, said she enjoyed the excursions after dinner especially in Barcelona and enjoyed speaking in the different languages.

Cathy Wesolowski, senior, said she was glad to get to know her classmates better and see her teachers outside of school.

Three seniors, Denise Cuellar, Caterina Mauro and Miranda Scarfuto, summed it up best as saying, “This trip will always be remembered as one of our best Kearney memories.”