Italy & GreeceTraditions & Cultures of the Mediterranean

Embark on an unforgettable Mediterranean journey through Italy and Greece this summer, immersing yourself in photography, culinary delights, and outdoor adventures. Experience the essence of the Italian Renaissance in Florence, marveling at Michelangelo’s David and strolling through historic streets. Photograph the medieval city of Lucca, bike along ancient walls, and explore the seaside beauty of Cinque Terre with a National Geographic Explorer. Experience the coastal allure of the ancient capital of Náfplio in Greece, capturing its pedestrian streets and clifftop castle and indulging in Greek culinary traditions.


July 6–July 22, 2024
17 days
$ 8,290 + airfare
Departs from New York
20–24 students, 3 leaders


  • Practice photography and capture Florence’s Renaissance-era streetscapes
  • Take in breathtaking views as you hike between hillside villages in Cinque Terre
  • Learn how to cook delicious Greek and Italian dishes
  • See the production of olive oil and cheeses in the Italian and Greek countryside

Meet the Expert

Chiara Goia, Photographer (joining both departures)

Chiara Goia is a documentary photographer based in Italy. She is a contributor to numerous publications, including National Geographic magazine, and her main interest is environmental and climate change-related issues focusing on human impact. As a National Geographic Explorer, she is working on a project features about the marble quarries of Carrara, in Tuscany, in which she aims to create a visual history of the excavated mountains, shedding light on the complex relationship between humans and nature.


This itinerary represents our best projection of the group’s schedule. However, we may implement changes designed to improve the quality of the program.

  • Departure
  • Travel Day

Meet your fellow middle school student travelers and one or more of your leaders in New York, and fly together to Rome, Italy, then transfer via private bus to Florence.

  • Florence, Italy
  • 3 days

Arrive in Italy and settle into our traditional Italian villa, nestled into a hillside overlooking the city of Florence, capital of the Tuscany region. Walk cobbled roads into the city’s well-preserved historic center—the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. Visit the Accademia to marvel at Michelangelo’s marble masterpiece—the statue of David—and then wander down the city streets seeking out sculptures depicting figures from ancient Roman mythology, like Hercules and Medusa. Chat with vendors at an open-air market to learn the secrets of assembling the perfect Italian picnic, and then sit down to enjoy your lunch in a nearby piazza. In the evening, set out on a nighttime photo shoot to capture images of Florence in a different light. At a local restaurant, taste the crown jewel of Florentine cuisine, bistecca alla fiorentina, a truly exceptional cut sourced from the local Chianina cattle breed.

  • Lucca, Italy
  • 4 days

Travel by private bus to the medieval walled city of Lucca. Stroll along the Renaissance walls, savoring panoramic views from atop the legendary Guinigi Tower. Bike along ancient pathways, explore the city’s streets, and talk with shopkeepers and local experts about life in Italy. Discover the wonders of nearby Pisa, and photograph its iconic Leaning Tower, and take an afternoon to enjoy a dip in the cool waters of the Mediterranean. Take a day trip and immerse yourself in coastal beauty at Cinque Terre, hiking between the collection of colorful cliffside villages. In a private hillside estate, learn to prepare a traditional Tuscan meal, savoring the exquisite flavors of tortelli lucchesi and experience firsthand the production of the region’s renowned, unfiltered olive oil. In the evenings, join in a pickup game of soccer, or sample rich flavors in some of the world’s oldest family-run gelaterias.

  • Náfplio, Greece
  • 3 days

Next, fly to Náfplio, a coastal town nestled beneath a clifftop castle. Wander along its pedestrian streets, descending to the beach. Immerse yourself in the festive ambiance of town street fairs or take a refreshing swim in the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Argolís. Take part in Greek culinary traditions with an interactive cooking class, learning to prepare mouthwatering dishes like dolmades and tzatziki. Embark on a day trip to Mycenae and unravel the legends of King Agamemnon, the heroic leader of the Greek army in Homer's Iliad. Marvel at the world-renowned Greek theater of Epidaurus and take a scenic hike up to Náfplio’s ancient fortress.

  • Crete, Greece
  • 4 days

Board an overnight ferry from Athens to Crete, the largest island in Greece. Explore the vibrant Heraklion Central Market for fresh fruits, local cheeses, and aromatic herbs. Venture to the countryside for a hike on Lasithi Plateau, strewn with ancient windmills, and learn the art of crafting Cretan cheese like graviera and mizithra. Hike through the scenic landscapes surrounding Chaniá, taking in breathtaking views of this Venetian port town, while working up an appetite. Explore the Psychro Cave, the mythical birthplace of Zeus, and take a refreshing swim from the rocky shoreline at the end of the day. On your final night, enjoy a special dinner with your group to celebrate and reflect on your experiences.

  • Return
  • Travel Day

Fly from Heraklion, Greece, to New York with your group and a leader, then continue on to your final destination.

A Day in the Life: Lucca, Italy

Due to the traveling nature of this student program abroad, each day is different. Here is a snapshot of a day in Lucca.

  •  Enjoy a traditional Italian breakfast at your residence
  •  Take a private bus to nearby Cinque Terre
  •  Hike together along the rugged coastline of the Italian Riviera
  •  Enjoy a meal of local specialties while enjoying views of the Mediterranean
  •  Relax on the beach and take a refreshing dip in the sea
  •  Return to Lucca, taking in views of the Tuscan countryside
  • Enjoy tortelli lucchesi at a local eatery with your group
  • Group meeting to discuss the day and upcoming schedule

What to Expect

  • Program Themes

Explore both of these themes over the course of the program.

Photography: Develop your photographic eye and improve your technical skills while documenting your journey through Italy and Greece in pictures. Evoke a sense of place as you capture rolling hills of olive trees and sunflowers, Náfplio’s craggy coastal landscapes, the dramatic ruins of Mycenae, or remnants of the Italian Renaissance in Florence.

Anthropology, Culture, & Tradition: Explore the intersection between cuisine and culture in one of the world’s most famous culinary regions. Go behind the scenes at an Italian olive orchard and prepare a locally sourced meal in a Tuscan cooking class. Try making a local Cretan cheese and learn the art of Greek cuisine with the help of a trained chef.

  • Physical Activity

This is an outdoor-focused, active summer travel program. We are outside much of each day. It is important that you have a desire to be active, and that you are interested in trying all activities, including hiking and horseback riding.

  • Lodging

While in Florence, we stay in a traditional Italian villa. In Lucca and in Greece, we stay in small, family-run hotels and inns.

  • Meals

We begin most days with a traditional breakfast at our residence. While we eat many of our lunches and dinners in restaurants, we also purchase supplies for picnic lunches full of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, breads, and cheeses.

Please call our office with any questions about the physical nature of this program or to discuss specific accessibility and accommodation questions.

Explore the Destination

Next Steps

If you have questions or would like to talk further about this program, please get in touch!

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