Our Tour Directors agree with us—the best way to broaden students’ minds is to get them learning by doing. Elisabetta Amadi has been a Tour Director since 2005, and her favorite part of the job is showing students her Venice—the one she grew up in from childhood. Elisabetta spends much of her life traveling with groups in Greece, France, the UK, and throughout Italy. She’s lived all over the world. But when she returns to Venice, there is an inescapable feeling of home.

Venice has been home for Elisabetta’s family for generations. Half of the family escaped from Spain in the 1500s. The other half is from Burano, the tiny island in the Venetian Lagoon famous for its lace work. “On my father’s side, they build boats. On my mother’s side, they are artists. I can walk into many galleries and shops and find their art on the walls,” she says.

In today’s Venice, there are few families like Elisabetta’s left. Its sites and charm have turned it into a tourist mecca and many locals—Elisabetta included— have a complicated relationship with Venice’s must-see status. “Venice is seen as ‘Veniceland’ to some. For me, I always try as hard as I can to really give students something unique of my town. There aren’t very many true residents of Venice—I may be one of the few that can do this!”

“I sometimes take groups to my local ice cream place. I take them to the little self-serve where my grandmother used to take me when she got her pension, and we get lunch there. We have a house that has been in the family for decades. If I have a chance—I even bring them home.”

Elisabetta’s knowledge of the city facilitates students’ learning and exploration in unique ways, including a LEAP activity she designed. “It’s like a treasure hunt. I divide the kids in groups—and get them to go at least five places with the help of a map. They have to find things and take pictures. For example, there is some very old graffiti on the Palazzo Ducale. Or I send them inside the Museo Correr to look for the oldest wedges that women used to use that go back to the 1700s,” she describes.

These authentic moments help to encourage the students to find their Venice. “Recently, there were these six girls. I saw them come out of the ice cream place on their free time to go speak to some people around the corner in the fruit and vegetable store,” Elisabetta says, with pride. Her Venice is now theirs too, and that means Elisabetta has helped yet another group of students appreciate what it means to feel at home around the world.

Learn more about our student educational travel programs to Italy.

Category: Interviews
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