Last week friends and colleagues from decades past to present day gathered to wish our Chairman, David Parry, the happiest of birthdays on his 80th! It was a celebratory night and a wonderful occasion to commemorate a man who has inspired us all and continues to do so.Dave’s Birthday – 27
Saturday we were still in Modena and visited several private car collections. In the late afternoon we drove past the Lamborghini factory – it was swarming with people for the 50th anniversary celebrations – our group understood why were not visiting till later this week. That evening we toured the Lamborghini Family museum and the owner and nephew to the founder, Fabio Lamborghini came and signed souvenirs for the group and had his photo taken with various members. His part of the show concluded with him roaring off in his own Lambo (that’s the lingo!)
From Modena we headed across northern Italy to Turin. It was a gorgeously clear day and a lovely drive with the snowcapped alps welcoming us into Piedmont. We even had two Lambos lined up at our brief restroom stop. Perfect planning! Our first stop in Turin was at the Lingotto. After lunching on delicious Italian treats in the Eataly Food Emporium we went onto the top of the Lingotto building (originally the FIAT factory) and stood on the roof top test track. Spectacular weather and clear views across the city to the mountains. We had a very thorough tour of the car collection at the Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile. And our final visit was at the FIAT Centro Storico – the original FIAT headquarters, with a lovely art deco facade and inside a great collection of old cars including some of the iconic 500 and wonderful photos and posters.
And as if we hadn’t had enough cars today – the Spanish Grand Prix took place today. We had a private room set up to show the replay at 9 pm. Not quite all of our group made it to the end, but many did.
Monday morning – design day. Another beautiful sunny day as we drove north out of Turin. Stile Bertone has been designing cars for all the luxury brands for just over 100 years and that is where we were headed today. We were greeted by the head of design. He gave a wonderful tour of the Bertone museum full of passion about what makes a great piece of design. Then out in the garden there were two prototypes that the group all drooled over as he opened it up and showed all the different features. It was hard to drag the group away from this fantastic tour but it was also in the most idyllic setting – parkland, surrounded by trees, very tranquil on a sunny day. From this very small friendly designer we visited Pininfarina – a very slick large design corporation. After a fascinating presentation we viewed a couple of prototype Ferraris. I confess I can’t keep up with the different models and features – needless to say my group might be forgetful about a logistical tour detail but they know which car they saw and where! We returned to Turin in the afternoon and visited with a charming American designer, who has lived in Turin most of his life. He has designed for many of the great names and gave us a very personal talk about his design experience.
Smithsonian Journeys’ has hit an all-time high for offering travelers exclusive behind the scenes access! During the first day of their Passion Sculpted in Steel tour of Northern Italy yesterday, the group got into the Ferrari factory for a private tour. This factory is the mecca of all car factories and many of the clients on this tour are fans and owners of this unique marque.
Before we knew it, we were entering building after building to see where the engines are made and watched the fascinating production line putting the body work together until body and engine are “married” as the lines of Ferraris glided
over our heads. I thought we needed some resounding opera music but one of the clients said “oh this is like a beautifully choreographed ballet!” He was right, it was an amazing show watching the different processes, every twenty minutes the car moved to its next station for the next stage in its creation. We saw the the upholstery department too and the range of materials and styles. Everything is personalized to the customers desires – which would explain the price tags on these babies and the fact that it takes 3000 employees over a year to get the car from order to delivery to the client.
The Ferrari factory is also an amazing village – with lots of green spaces inside and outside the buildings, employees are treated very well, the temperature is very controlled inside the buildings as is the waste, all powered by solar energy and noise levels were very manageable – until we got to the private client’s car storage area. A couple of models had to be moved – the guide ran out of the garage, I guess she hears the roar of those engines enough – but to my group it was music to their ears. A Ferrari engine makes a unique sound, quite unforgettable. It was a fitting end to a fabulous three hour tour. We also saw the Fiorano test track and the Formula One race cars. I don’t think we could have asked for a better start to this tour. Its only day one. Tomorrow we can Pagani and Maserati and much more.
An avid jogger herself, she recommended the Foretzza Medicea where the air is clean, the trail uncrowded, and most of all…the views are spectacular! During the jog around the perimeter of this massive fortress, you see the Duomo, the hills of Tuscany, and the rooftops below…
There is still time to book on our September trip to Siena where we explore art, history, neighborhoods, cuisine, wine, and the hills of Tuscany together!
Bike 20 kilometers through rolling Tuscan hills alongside Chianti wine country. Stop and meander through quaint small towns, then soft pedal to a vineyard for a quick tasting and zoom the last 6 km downhill to end a picture perfect day!
Join us in Siena in September at: http://www.smithsonianjourneys.org/tours/siena
Step Afrika! will be turning up the heat this summer with their friends in Morocco! And there is still space to join this tour made specifically for Step Afrika! patrons to experience the exciting Rabat Festival - a premier cultural and musical event. Then alongside Step leaders, explore Casablanca and finish the thrill of the tour with the sounds and sights of Marrakesh. What a better way to spend summer break than with Step Afrika! On June 17-25, 2013. More details at www.stepafrika.org.
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Step Afrika! is the first professional company in the world dedicated to the dance tradition of stepping and Washington, DCs one and only Cultural Ambassador. The Company promotes an appreciation for “stepping” and its use as an educational tool for young people. Step Afrika! accomplishes this mission through arts education activities, international cultural exchange programs and performances world-wide.
Step Afrika! stands out as one of the stars of DCs arts and cultural life and has been recognized with three Mayor’s Arts Awards–Innovation in the Arts, Contribution to Arts Education and Excellence in an Artistic Discipline. Internationally, the Company pioneered the use of stepping to bring young people together across class and color lines with a week-long Residency in Beirut, Lebanon. Based on its success, Step Afrika! will host a similar Regional Reconciliation Youth Camp in the Balkans in April 2013.
In 2012, the Company performed in Croatia, Samoa, Djibouti, Canada and the Democratic Republic of the South Sudan. This summer, Step Afrika! looks forward to sharing their experience at the Rabat Africa Festival in Morocco with you! www.stepafrika.org
Cities: Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakesh
Dates: June 17-25, 2013
Price: $4775 (double occupancy)
Book Now! 1.800.556.7896
We first met Pamela Sheldon Johns, renowned cookbook author and gracious host, at a cheese maker in the Tuscan hills. After learning about the organic process, Pamela bought ricotta and pecorino which we would use to make our lunch. Armed with flavorful cheese and enthusiasm, we then sailed through rolling hills to arrive at Poggio Etrusco – the home (and kitchen extraordinaire) of Pamela and her artist husband, Johnny.
Our task…to make the famous Sense pici pasta and ravioli (with our ricotta) and then to enjoy our creations with some of Pamela’s homemade wine, olive oil, gelato, etc. Everything we consumed was from the land right underneath our feet. All vegetables and herbs from the gardens; olive oil pressed from their trees, and wine from their own vines. Just like Tuscan cooking – the most important component: fresh ingredients.
Join us this Fall in Siena on Smithsonian Journeys tour at: http://www.smithsonianjourneys.org/tours/siena
Today on the Ancient Roman calendar marks the Quinquatrus – a celebration of Minerva. It is especially appropriate then to celebrate her here at Academic Travel Abroad where we offer educational tours and study abroad experiences because Minerva was a goddess of learning and scholars.
The festival commemorating Minerva continued in Rome for five days. The first and most important day, was the consecration of her temple on the Aventine and the following days consisted of gladiatorial contests, a display of wild animals, plays, orators, poets, and the consultation of fortune tellers.
Make sure to wish your teachers a very happy Quinquatrus today!