|Title||Exchanges between 9th Lyceum of Athens (Greece) & Marco Belli School (Italy)|
Mrs Ioanna Psina/Principal at 9th Lyceum of Athens
The Greek students and their teachers received a warm welcome by the Headmaster of Marco Belli School in Protogruaro and members of the teaching staff, especially the two organisers of the exchange, Dr Milly Palladin and Dr Silvia Gulino. The students had a tour around the grounds of the school, visiting classrooms, laboratories, libraries, sports-halls and other facilities.
Members of the teaching personnel took the Greek students around the medieval city of Portogruaro with its impressive walled-in centre and the imposing gates-entrances to the city that date from the 12th century but are still in use today. The city is part of an extensive canal system that traversed the whole area of Veneto (territory under the rule of the city of Venice) and facilitated commerce and transportation of both people and goods from the port of Venice to the mountainous region of the Alps and vice versa. The students had the opportunity to appreciate the fortifications of the city and the strategic importance of the city for commerce and defense. They also visited the remains of the nearby roman city of Sagittaria Concordia which was responsible for supplying the imperial army of Ancient Rome with arrows and ammunition. The students were received by the Mayor of the town in the Town Hall which is one of the oldest buildings in the region and heard a lecture on the administrational responsibilities of the city authorities throughout its historic presence.
The Greek students and their teachers also visited the city of Venice which constitutes a rare example of defensive planning and construction as the entire city is built on logs of trees fixed in the sandy floor of a lagoon. The idea of building the city far from the mainland had the specific aim to provide the city with the best protection against armed forces that could attack it from land. Guides offered extensive information regarding the protection of the city by means of building a powerful fleet to fend off enemies approaching by sea, the arsenal where ships and armour were built, the seat of government and the priorities they set for the protection of the city and the promotion of its interests.
The group of students also visited the city of Verona with its magnificent city walls that provided an example of fortification of an important city in the mainland of Veneto. They had the opportunity to explore the narrow streets of the city, the main buildings of historical importance such as the cathedrals for the common worship, the seat of local government in medieval times, the market place, Piazza Signori, Castelvecchio, the Arena, the prefecture. Students got a very good idea of what life must have been like in medieval times, e.g. living in close proximity to others, having to share a communal space, building bonds of solidarity, congregating all together in specific places for worship, entertainment, discussion of common concerns and places of enforcing the law.
A similar experience was provided by the historic city of Treviso which seems to be stuck in medieval times to this day. Apart from the extensive walls that surround the city, one of the most important features was the main gates to the city which were monumental in design and execution, underlining thus the importance of both the city as a place of defense and commerce, but also the glory and power of its dominant city, Venice. Another important element was the moat built around the city walls to enhance its defense. Of great interest was a river system, still in operation to this day. It provides the city with fresh water, a convenience of grave importance for a community that from time to time had to sustain the pressures of a long siege from enemy forces.
A farewell party which was organized by the hosts of the Marco Belli School in one of the most prominent vine yards of the area, Bosco de Merlo, Paladin winery, gave students the opportunity to express their gratitude for the warm hospitality that was extended to them by their Italian counterparts and the opportunity they had to get a close look at places of great historical importance and special interest to their project of study. The trip to Veneto ended with bonds of friendship developing among the students and promises from the Greeks to return the favour when the Italians would visit Greece in April 2014.