by Merikay Payne who recently traveled with an Educational Travel Seminar to Italy personally led by travel program director Doug Whittle of Continuing Studies.
Those incorrigible Boy Scouts and their “Be Prepared” motto.
Founder Robert Baden-Powell probably chose the phrase after visiting Italy, sometime after it became a country in 1861. Organizing the Boy Scouts of America in 1910 just made it possible for Baden-Powell to perpetuate the value of being prepared in mind and body.
Our two-week stay in Italy took us on a route from centrally located Rome, to the lemon-growing area of Sorrento, past the cliffs of Amalfi, on to the arts and leather center of Florence, and a return to Rome by way of the Tuscany and Umbria regions.
Our travels allowed us the good fortune to:
• Cruise the Amalfi coast on the way Paestum.
Be prepared for cliffs meeting the sea and exploration of an ancient Greek city.
• Immerse ourselves in the history of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Be prepared to witness the destruction of Mt. Vesuvius on rich and poor, but not their structures.
• View Michelangelo’s David.
Be prepared to see three David’s, even though there is only one Michelangelo.
• Take note of the Medici family intrigue.
Be prepared to connect Medici, Michelangelo, and popes in unexpected ways.
• Witness first-hand that Rome really wasn’t built in a day.
Be prepared for lasagna-layered buildings and roads.
• Find a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was saved by extreme poverty, the Black Plague, and a bypass.
Be prepared for San Gimignano.
• Visit the church or Duomo of Siena and Rome’s Pantheon.
Be prepared for the beauty of architectural overload.
• Verify that the unreal landscape of Italian Renaissance painting is real.
Be prepared for Piero Della Francesca’s masterpiece at the Uffizi.
Even though both Baden-Powell and I extol the value of being prepared, I must say I was not ready for everything that I saw or learned. For now, my next trip will be to the library.
What’s your dream destination? Africa, to see the elephants and zebras? India, to tour the Taj Mahal and other exotic temples? Read about our future travel tours on the web: continuingstudies.wisc.edu/travel/