Friday 8th March 2019 was surely a day to remember for a group of 30 students who had the opportunity to participate in a day-trip to Sicily, accompanied by their geography teachers. The adventure stared off early in the morning when at 3:50, the students were greeted by their teachers at the airport. We arrived at the port city of Catania at around 6:30. Students had some time to savor typical Sicilian food for breakfast. At around 7:15, we met with Antonio, our coach driver for the day, and started putting into practice our busy itinerary! The weather was fine – it was sunny with an air temperature of around 10°C.
The first stop point was Mount Etna, Sicily’s greatest natural attraction – the most active strato-volcano in Europe, and the highest peak in Sicily (rising to an elevation of c. 3, 350m above sea-level). As soon we arrived at our first destination, our students did not resist to put into action their photographic skills, capturing the beautiful volcanic landscape in front of them (some snow fighting was also a must), as can be witnessed from the photos below.
After around two hours of hiking the South-East flank of Mount Etna (which were quite steep-sided) to arrive to Crateri Silvestri (North of Nicolosi), a group of craters which were formed due to the 1892 volcanic eruption. Students once again had the time to admire the breathtaking views from Crateri Silvestri. After spending some time taking photos (and catching our breath), interacting with their geography teachers by clarifying and discussing what they learn during geography lessons (confined within the 4 walls of the classroom), and interacting amongst their peers, it was then time for lunch. We chose a restaurant situated immediately adjacent to Crateri Silversti. Yet again, Sicilian food did not disappoint and students really enjoyed the delicious food which was kindly offered by our Head of School, Mr. J. Attard – pasta, pizza, panini con salsiccia, ricotta cannoli and fruit were on the menu!
On full stomachs, we then boarded the coach again for a one-hour drive, to arrive to our second destination – Gole dell’ Alcantara Botanical and Geological Park. Before walking along the trail to admire the magnificent river, students were treated to a short 3D video explaining the formation of Gole dell’ Alcantara. We then headed for a guided walk around the trail whereby students discovered the underlying geological, seismic and hydrological processes which gave rise the formation of the magnificent gorge along the Alcantara River (situated between Castiglione di Sicilia e di Motta Camastra). Students also learned about botany and the biogeography of the area whereby they had the opportunity to ask questions to the local Gole dell’ Alcantara tour guide. The guide was impressed by the students’ interest in explanations being presented to them to explain the formation of the gorge and the surrounding hydro-geologic and botanical elements. The photos below were captured by our students during this nature trail along River Alcantara.
At around 18:00 we left Gole dell’ Alcantara to arrive at our next stop point – Taormina. The hilltop town of Taormina, located within the Province of Messina is an elegant settlement on Sicily’s eastern coats, standing at c. 204 metres above the Ionian Sea. Here, students spent some time admiring the mesmerizing landscape (with Mt. Etna as a backdrop) from Belvedere Square (Piazza IX Aprile) whilst indulging in an authentic artisan gelato from a tiny ice-cream shop nearby. We also roamed the roads for some souvenir shopping.
We ended our busy day with an hour of shopping at the Porte di Catania commercial outlet, and headed to the airport to get back on our rock! Little did we know, however, that our trip was about to lengthen itself due to a plane delay of two hours. Even though we were all very tired after accomplishing our busy itinerary, we spent the time interacting with each other, so much so that by the end of the trip, everyone was commenting about the fact that they really got along well with each other… We agree with our students – you were an awesome bunch, and you made us proud once again by your impeccable behaviour throughout the whole trip.
We are convinced that this trip will remain deeply engraved in the minds of our precious students, and in ours’ as well. How can we forget the beautiful landscapes we witnessed, the interesting conversations we engaged in, the laughs we shared and the sheer happiness on your faces? WE JUST CAN’T 😊
Always remember that “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”
We would like to take this opportunity to thank our HOS, Mr J. Attard, for his continued support and for offering to sponsor our lunch whilst abroad. Thanks are also due to the students’ parents – without their cooperation and trust in us, the trip wouldn’t have been as successful as it was. Finally, a huge thank you to our colleague, Ms. C. Bezzina, for accompanying us and assisting us in taking care of our students.
The Geography Dept. (D. Mizzi, P. Bonnici)