For middle school students looking for a summer exploring vibrant European cities, soaking up ancient cultures, and relaxing on some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, join us for the ultimate adventure through Italy and Greece!
Our trip begins in Venice, tasting some of the best gelato and pizza in Italy. We will then head to Florence where we will see the Duomo for incredible views and catch a postcard-perfect sunset over the city. We’ll discover the picturesque seaside in the Cinque Terre, step back in time in the ancient city of Rome, and after 10 days will have truly experienced living la bella vita!
Then we’ll pack our bags and we’re off to our second European country: Greece! Discover the stunning beaches, whitewashed homes, charming towns and centuries of rich history. We’ll get lost in the ancient ruins of Athens, and marvel at the incredible views of the world-renowned Greek Islands.
On our summertime adventure through some of Italy and Greece’s most popular destinations, we will sail through crystal waters, relax on two island paradises, eat like gods, and explore the ancient culture that is at the heart of Western Civilization. Prepare to fall in love with the culture, people, history, cuisine, and pure beauty of Italy and Greece!
This program is perfectly paced for a younger age group – we have slowed down the itinerary to allow for a more relaxed experience to help younger teens adjust to the culture shock of being abroad. This allows the teens to experience everything Italy and Greece has to offer without the stress!
During this program, you will…
- Ride gondolas through canals of Venice
- Visit the Island of Murano and learn how glassblowers perfected their trade
- Walk in the steps of the ancient Romans and learn how the gladiators fought at the Colosseum
- Capture the picture-perfect sunset over Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo
- Explore local neighborhoods of Rome in search of the best artisan pizza
- Wander the golden halls of the Vatican and stare in awe at Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling
- Marvel at the white buildings and blue domes that line the charming islands of Paros and Santorini
- Explore the classic Tuscan medieval hill town of Montalcino*
- Learn how to make the best Greek specialties during a private cooking class
- Swim at some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe
- Guarantee your return to Rome with a coin tossed into the Trevi Fountain
- Climb the Duomo for incredible views of Florence
- Hike along the Cinque Terre coast and discover some of the world’s most beautiful villages
- Visit the charming seaside city of Nafplio and climb to the top of a Venetian fortress overlooking the Aegean Sea
- Climb the Acropolis for an up-close look at the Parthenon, one of the most spectacular ancient ruins in the world
- See the world-famous sunsets from the best vantage point of Santorini
- Take a private boat tour around Paros, stopping at hidden beaches along the way
*This is an optional excursion
DAY 1: DEPART FROM NEW YORK (JFK)
DAYS 2-4: VENICE > FLORENCE
Our program begins in stunning Venice, where students will wander the canals and enjoy the overall relaxed atmosphere of this quaint city. We’ll enjoy the best pizzeria in the city and have our first taste of Italian Gelato (the first of many)! We will also visit the Island of Murano, the center of the ancient glassmaking industry and ride gondolas through the canals of Venice.
We then head to Florence, the city most often referred to as an outdoor museum! Every turn in this beautiful city reveals a new statue, fountain or fresco. In the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance we’ll see Michelangelo’s famous “David,” climb to the top of the Duomo, and visit the Uffizi Museum, which houses the best collection of Italian Renaissance art in the world. However, art and culture are not all that are in store for us in Florence.
DAYS 5-7: CINQUE TERRE
Then it’s off to discover one of Italy’s hidden gems! Often referred to as the Italian Riviera, the Cinque Terre is home to five idyllic fishing villages with pastel colored houses perched on dramatic cliffs that plunge into the crystal-blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. We stay right in the center of one of the villages (Monterosso) just steps from the beach! In Monterosso we have established strong relationships with the locals from some of the service projects we have done there in the past, and you will see you are treated like family during your stay here!
The Cinque Terre is known for its spectacular hiking trails that connect the towns and we will have the opportunity to hike them for ourselves! On the hike we will enjoy stunning views of the sea and the vineyards that line the cliffs and be inspired by the natural beauty in this region. During our time here we will also sample local specialties like pesto and focaccia. We’ll dine on fresh seafood and relax on the beach in our seaside paradise.
DAYS 8-10: MONTALCINO > ROME
Then it’s time to say “arrivederci Monterosso” and head towards Rome. On the way we will stop in the town of Montalcino, where we’ll stroll the quaint cobblestoned streets of the quaint Tuscan hill town.
For those who choose, there will be an optional excursion to a private vineyard just outside the town of Montalcino to experience the stunning Tuscan countryside in real Italian fashion. This day is a TFT favorite! We have an exclusive invitation to a family’s private Tuscan Estate. We will receive a hands-on tasty Italian cooking lesson using freshly harvested vegetables straight from their garden! Enjoy a special tour of the winery where they produce award-winning wine and receive an introduction to this important part of Italian culture.
Then it’s time to visit our final Italian destination: the Eternal City, where we will explore some of the most famous sites in Italy. Go inside the mighty Colosseum and get a vivid picture of what it was like when the gladiators were battling. Check out the Vatican Museums and stare in awe at the Sistine Chapel, and go inside St. Peter’s Basilica. In true Roman fashion, we will hang out at the Spanish steps and see the Trevi Fountain lit up at night — make sure you toss a coin in for good luck to insure your quick return to this gorgeous city!
DAYS 11-13: ATHENS
Then we’re off to our next European destination: Greece! Hit the ground running with a walking tour of downtown AThens. See Constitution Square, wander the winding streets of the historic Plaka neighborhood, and explore the market district of Monastiraki. We’ll top off an exciting first day with your first taste of authentic Greek cuisine at one of our favorite local restaurants.
Then step back in time 2500 years to the height of ancient Greek civilization at the incredible Acropolis! First, we’ll visit the Acropolis Museum, rated one of the world’s top 10 museums. Then we’ll see this incredibly well-preserved monument ourselves. After lunch, students will have free time to explore Plaka and shop for souvenirs on Ermou Street. For dinner, try your hand at making your own Greek delicacies in our cooking class!
DAY 14: NAFPLIO
We’ll take a day trip out of Athens to the beautiful seaside city of Nafplio. En-route, stop at the Corinth Canal, a technological feat of engineering dating back to the time of Ancient Greece and only completed in the 19th century! We’ll have lunch in Nafplio, which was the first capital of Greece, before visiting a nearby beach for our first dip in the Mediterranean Sea.
DAY 15-16: PAROS
Today, we’ll depart Athens and do like the Greeks do: board a ferry to visit an island! The first island we’ll stay at on our journey is Paros, a beautiful island in the Mediterranean. Upon our arrival, we’ll have lunch, then head down to the beach for some relaxing and swimming! Watch the sunset over the sea as we enjoy dinner at one of the island’s most beautiful lookout spots.
Take a bit of time in the morning to explore the fishermen’s village of Naoussa. Walk to the Venetian Castle in the port, buy some snacks for the beach, or just enjoy the white-washed paths that are a signature of the Cycladic islands. In the afternoon, we’ll take a boat to the beautiful Kolymbythres, our favorite beach in Paros.
DAYS 17-19: SANTORINI
We’ll explore the winding cobblestone streets of Paroikia for the last time before boarding the ferry to our next island: the famous Santorini. Upon our arrival, we’ll explore the town and relax before enjoying dinner.
We begin the next day in the village of Oia, one of the most photographed places on the planet. Students will surely recognize its whitewashed buildings, blue domes, and antique windmills. We’ll spend the day strolling through the town and capturing its scenic beauty. This evening, watch the sunset from aboard our own private sunset cruise along the Santorini caldera. Swim in hot springs and take in the breathtaking Aegean views!
Next we’ll visit Santorini’s other picturesque village, Fira, and soak up Greek life as we explore its narrow alleyways and quaint shops. There will be time for swimming at the hotel pool this morning as well. In the afternoon, we’ll board the ferry to return to Athens, where we’ll have another incredible Greek dinner.
DAY 20: ATHENS
On our final full day in Greece, we’ll begin the day with a scavenger hunt in the Agora, the birthplace of democracy in the heart of historic Athens. This afternoon, you’ll have free time to do some souvenir shopping in the hip neighborhood of Monastiraki or to visit any museums or sites you may have missed. To celebrate the end of an amazing journey, we’ll enjoy an upscale dinner dressed in our finest and reminisce on the memories we’ve made in Italy and Greece!
DAY 21: RETURN FLIGHT TO THE USA
Who can go on this program? What kind of teen typically goes on this program?
Teens from all over the world join this program! Typically, our participants are culturally curious individuals who are excited to make new friends, experience something unique, and interested in stepping out of their comfort zones and expanding their horizons.
This program is exclusively for students who are currently in 7th or 8th grade and approximately 12 to 14 years old. Students living outside of the USA are welcome to join!
Where do we stay?
Our hotels are chosen specifically in safe areas and are well suited to facilitating group supervision. We stay in centrally located accommodations, usually within walking distance of the main attractions. We do not use large, impersonal chain hotels on the outskirts of cities; we prefer to select smaller, family-run hotels where we establish personal relationships with the owners.
In Rome we stay at an elegant two star hotel near the central Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore, close to both the Colosseum and the main train station. In Florence we stay in a three star hotel only minutes away from the Duomo.
In Athens we stay at a great hotel only a five minute walk in the center of Athens near Syntagma. Travelers average between 2-4 per room. On Paros we stay in the capital of Paroikia in a beautiful hotel close to the port and 2 minutes from the beach. On Santorini, we stay next to Fira in one of the most photogenic spots on the island.
For safety reasons, we do not publish the names of the accommodations we use. We do not feel it is safe to publish the name of a hotel where a group of teenagers is staying abroad. After registering, participants and parents are given access to our secure parent website where you will be able to see the names of all of the accommodations for the program.
Do most travelers go on their own?
Yes! In fact, over 75% of students who travel with us choose to come independently. This encourages teens to step further outside their comfort zone and make new friends. We believe that one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of travel is the new friendships that form along the way. When we travel by ourselves, we are bound to make new friends from all over the country and even the world. The best part is, you can travel again with your new friends on another TFT program the next summer!
If you are thinking about joining a TFT program by yourself but you are feeling unsure, please let us know! We have plenty of references from solo travelers who had great experiences and would be happy to chat with you about it.
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We ask that if you do come with a friend, you and your friend(s) maintain openness to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.
What do students like most about the Europe for Middle School: Greece, Italy & the Islands trip?
On thhe Europe for Middle School: Greece, Italy & the Islands program, middle school students love that they are able to explore two of Europe’s most incredible countries on a trip tailored for their age group.
Students love the quiet pace of this Italian adventure where they will see the famous sights of Italy, have the best food of their life and make unforgettable memories with lifelong friends.
Students also appreciate exploring the hottest destinations in Greece, while also discovering some lesser known gems. Paros tends to be a favorite; everyone loves its laidback island vibe and gorgeous beaches. Teens love discovering the culture and history of Greece while exploring Athens, and also contrasting their experiences in the city with the charm of the Greek islands.
What is unique about the Europe for Middle School: Greece, Italy & the Islands trip?
We have strong local connections in Greece and Italy and offer exclusive activities like a traditional cooking lesson in the culinary heart of Athens, an exclusive invitation to a Tuscan villa, and an insider’s guide to the best little-known neighborhoods of Rome. Our Europe for Middle School: Greece, Italy & the Islands programs are like no other and allow teens to truly immerse themselves in the best parts of these two unique countries.
What is included?
Tuition cost includes ground transportation; accommodation; chaperones and guides; program-related activities and admissions; taxes and tips; all breakfasts and dinners.
Not included in cost (this is not intended to be an exhaustive list): airfare; lunches; visas and visa application fees; personal and medical expenses; activities and admissions that are not program-related or referenced in the itinerary; beverages other than filtered water at meals; participant expenses that are outside of the program description, such as excess baggage fees and damage to hotels; expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters.
How do the optional group flights work?
Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss the program’s flight details. There is no requirement to take the group flight, but there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is usually chaperoned by a TFT staff member, and it also offers an opportunity for the students to get to know one another prior to the start of the program. Parents are responsible for coordinating transport to the departure airport – however, the logistics team will send out instructions detailing the exact meeting spot and airport point person. For additional information about flights, visit our dedicated flight page.
Who leads the program?
Our staff is a cut above the rest! We seek out two main characteristics in our counselors – extensive knowledge of and experience in our destinations, and a passion for working with teens. Our staff’s backgrounds include living abroad and working in summer camps or other educational settings. Team members are proven leaders and role models, who connect easily with others and form genuine friendships with each student – all while bringing each destination to life.
We celebrate diversity! Our staff represents 49 different nationalities, speak a combined total of 21 languages, and visited 142 countries. Additionally, 80% of our staff lived or worked abroad in their lives. With so many unique experiences to share, you are sure to gain a global perspective.
Our average minimum ratios are one staff member to every seven participants. Each program has one Trip Director with several support staff, depending on the group size. Directors must be at least 25 years old within the calendar year and have prior experience working with TFT.
What are the safety qualifications for our staff?
Our staff members undergo a rigorous hiring process. They receive the same background check as school educators, an extensive training process to go over all safety precautions and protocols, and are required to be certified in CPR and First Aid. We exclusively hire responsible, multi-talented individuals who are safety-minded and are as passionate about teen travel as we are.
What is the average group size?
We pride ourselves on small group sizes to create a more authentic and personalized experience. Our group sizes fall between 13 and 24 students – the perfect size to facilitate new friendships without feeling lost in a crowd! We believe smaller groups eliminate the likelihood of cliques, and allows for a well-rounded, healthy group dynamic.
How does this program connect to other programs?
Our program dates are designed specifically so that participants can opt to combine trips throughout the summer. When connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the program and assist you in meeting your next group at your new destination.
What is the food like on this program?
In a word – delicious! At TFT, we believe food should be an integral part of the travel experience and always make an effort to eat at authentic establishments when we can. What better way to immerse yourself in the culture of a place than by sampling the local delicacies, and we encourage students to do so whenever possible! Just as we stay away from Americanized hotel chains, we try to avoid restaurants with menus that cater only to tourists because every good traveler knows the best food is found wherever the locals are eating!
In Italy we will enjoy fresh, simple ingredients, homemade pasta, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and of course, pizza! We always eat at authentic and local restaurants. Food is an important part of the culture so we prefer to allow our students to order off the menu so every meal is exactly what you want!
In Greece, we will enjoy class Greek cuisine, including the original Greek salad with mouth-watering tomatoes and locally made feta, famous grilled meats and fresh seafood, and world-renowned baklava. The secret to Greek food is the fresh, simple ingredients, and you’ll begin to understand why this is the secret to one of the best diets in the world: the Mediterranean diet! We also love to have picnics al fresco, and do this whenever possible, which is a great way to taste some local food while sitting out in the fresh air taking in the sights and sounds of our surroundings.
Of course, we are always willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
Do we ever get time to go off on our own?
Our staff and teens are nearly always together, but we do provide the opportunity to break up into smaller groups to allow for flexibility and customization within the itinerary.
We offer free time in defined safe areas – for example, shopping in a market or exploring a museum. During these times, students remain in groups of at least two and are given no more than an hour. Of course, the counselors remain nearby and available. Additionally, a lifeguard-certified counselor supervises the campers any time they are involved in water activities.
Do I need any vaccinations for this program?
We recommend checking with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the destination you are visiting. For more information, please check the World Health Organization’s website. Upon registration, we provide a list of recommended vaccinations that can be discussed further with your doctor. For Specific questions pertaining to the COVID-19 vaccine, click here.
What kind of visa do you need for this program?
Any US citizen that enters Europe is automatically granted a free 90-day tourist visa.
When joining a TFT trip from outside of the US, please be sure to check your country’s specific visa requirements.
Do I need to speak the language?
No, our skilled staff members will help you get around and even teach you a few fun phrases!
Authenticity is engrained in everything we do. Eat, stay, and travel like a local.
Check out what past travelers have to say about TFT and discover why we are consistently awarded “Top Youth Travel Organization” year after year.
"A HUGE THANK YOU to you to the trip leaders for providing an extraordinary travel experience for our group of middle school students! My husband and I have been blown away by the numbers and depth of activities -- and extremely appreciative to you for your extraordinarily thoughtful (and detail packed) emails and photos/videos! We have looked forward to your updates every day. It is clear how invested you are, and how much you care. Thank you!"
"I wanted to thank you for a fantastic trip for Kayla. She was very excited but also very anxious about this trip. I heard from her a lot the first few days but was really encouraging her to advocate for herself. It sounds like she worked on doing that and relayed the positive outcomes of conversing with you. That was a big deal for us. In addition to that it sounds like an amazing trip, and never having been to Greece I’m envious! I hope that you enjoyed your time as well.Thank you so much for your updates, support, and for working with my daughter. I hope that you enjoy the rest of your summer."
"This trip…my goodness!!! When we hear from Jordan, he is beyond happy! He has said that “this is the best time he’s ever had” and things “couldn't be better”. Based on the photos, your blogs and the things he tells us, he is not going to want to come home!! Thank you, Vianeli and Hana for making this an experience of a lifetime!"
Travel with us and discover why we are consistently winning awards for Top Youth Travel Organization.