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W&M Family Journeys

Travel the World with the Tribe.


Join Parent & Family Programs for our inaugural Family Journey in Florence, Italy. This exclusive travel opportunity is only available to William & Mary Families! Mark Sikes, Maggie Evans, and Faculty Member Sara Mattavelli will provide families a study abroad experience of their very own. 

Together you will experience the thrill of a lifetime as you visit exciting new places while enriching your understanding of other cultures. If you are planning a trip in the near future with family and like the idea of meeting fellow William & Mary families along the way, sign up for this exclusive Family Journey today!

Why travel on a Family Journey?

Travelling on a Family Journey with William & Mary provides families all the adventure of Study Abroad, without the homework!

Our faculty guide, Sara Mattavelli leads William & Mary students during their study abroad journeys through her role as the Program Director of the study abroad summer program in Florence. Guests traveling with us will experience an educational overview and connection to the history and culture of Italy that isn't available anywhere else. 

When is the Journey?

May 18-26, 2020.

  • Depart the U.S. Sunday May 17, 2020
  • Arrive in Italy Monday May 18, 2020
  • Depart from Italy Tuesday May 26, 2020.
Where will we stay?

This 8-Day trip includes first class accommodations at Gallery Hotel Art in the heart of Florence, Italy.

The contemporary Gallery Hotel Art is a 4 star design and boutique hotel in Florence dreamed up by Michele Bönan, a refined Florentine architect, and offers a favorite local meeting place in the heart of Florence amongst fashion, art, and stylish people.

Set in a quiet courtyard near the Arno and Ponte Vecchio and close to Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, you may experience art and photography vernissages, enjoy a few quite moments in the inviting lounge-library, or indulge in culinary Eastern delights at the Fusion Bar & Restaurant.
What will we do?

Our travels in Italy will include two full days of exploring all of the wonders of Florence, with famous sites such as the Duomo and Galleria dell'Academia. We'll spend an afternoon in Lucca to explore towers and villas dating back to the 12 century. Two planned excursion days will feature a day trip to Siena & San Gimignano where guests will see all Tuscany has to offer. This is followed by a day trip to Chianti where we will wine & dine among the breathtaking landscape of a local vineyard. 

Our sample itinerary is below. Please keep in mind, this itinerary is subject to change leading up to our trip. For "Choose Your Own Adventure Days" it is best to pre-plan your independent excursions and travel, as May is a busy time in Italy. 

Sunday, May 17 

  • Travel Day

Monday, May 18 

  • Hotel Check-In @ 2 PM
  • Opening Dinner – Get acquainted with your Family Journey hosts and others on the Journey with us. Professor Mattavelli will provide an overview of our time in Italy and begin to share her robust knowledge of Italian history and culture.

Tuesday, May 19 

  • Breakfast included at Hotel
  • Lunch on your own
  • Piazza del Duomo (Florence Cathedral), Battistero
  • Lunch on your own
  • Galleria dell’Academia
  • Dinner on your own

Wednesday, May 20 

  • Breakfast included at Hotel
  • Palace Vechhio 
  • Lunch on your own
  • Lucca Afternoon
    • Lucca Cathedral, Basilica of San Frediano& more
  • Dinner on your own

Thursday, May 21 

  • Breakfast included in Hotel
  • Siena, San Gimignano, - See all that Tuscany has to offer on this day trip to Pisa, Siena, and San Gimignano from Florence. Explore the main square and Gothic cathedral in Siena, followed by a traditional, 3-course lunch with wine. Afterward, enjoy the medieval streets of San Gimignano 
  • Dinner on your own

Friday, May 22 

  • Breakfast included in Hotel
  • Chianti Day Trip - Drinking a chalice of Chianti figures as an essential part of any itinerary in Italy. The splendid Chianti region winds its way between Florence and Siena and is characterized by its iconic views of olive groves and vineyards. It offers innumerable tours of wine cellars and guided wine tasting. You will stop in different villages and hamlets rich in serenity, offering food and wine that is unique in the world.
  • Lunch included in Day Trip
  • Dinner on your own

Saturday, May 23 

  • Choose Your Own Adventure
  • Breakfast included in Hotel

Sunday, May 24 

  • Choose Your Own Adventure
  • Breakfast included in Hotel

Monday, May 25 

  • Breakfast included in Hotel
  • Boboli Gardens, Pitti Palace, (both require tickets)
  • Ponte Vecchio & more
  • Closing Dinner

Tuesday, May 26 

  • Breakfast included in Hotel
  • Hotel Check-Outby 12 PM
  • Travel Day
Who is going with us?

  • S. Mark Sikes, Ph.D. is the Vice Dean for Student Success. He has led families for the past several years and is in his 14th year at William & Mary. He is committed to ensure that all families have a strong connection. Traveling with Mark will be quite an experience. He also serves as the Director of Student Services for the Joint Degree Programme with the University of St. Andrews and has many international trips under his belt. Your journey with Mark will be a trip to remember!
  • Sara Mattavelli, Sara Mattavelli, Ph.D. is a Lecturer of Italian Studies at William & Mary. Her research interests include contemporary Italian literature, women's studies, and second language acquisition. At William & Mary, she coordinates and teaches language courses at various levels and she supervises the cultural and academic activities of the Italian House. Since last year, Professor Mattavelli has the pleasure of serving as the program director for the W&M study abroad summer program in Florence
  • Maggie Evans Maggie Evans serves as the Associate Vice President for Campus Living and is a proud parent of a new William & Mary student. After serving as the Chief of Staff for the President of James Madison University and 24 years in Residence Life, she joined W&M in 2017. Not only has she served as the director of an Olympic Village housing for the Olympic Games in Atlanta, she partnered with the Center for Global Engagement on many of the international programs at JMU.
How much will it cost?

COST: $3,600 per person (cost based on double occupancy (2 family members per room); other arrangements may require an additional cost)

Payment Timeline:

  • $100 refundable deposit due upon completing interest sheet.
  • $500 non-refundable payment due by December 1, 2019.
  • $1000 non-refundable payment due by January 15, 2020.
  • Full balance due by February 15, 2020.
Included in Cost:
  • 4-star hotel accommodations in the center of Florence
  • Onsite Trip organizers
  • Special activities guided by William & Mary Faculty Member
  • All activities and visits included in itinerary
  • Hotel buffet breakfast daily
  • Incredible meals, including: Breakfast each morning, 1 lunch, and 2 dinners 

Please Note:
  • Cost does not include airfare to/from Italy or airport transfers
  • Guests should plan to fly into Florence airport (FLR)
How do I sign up?

Complete the interest sheet and pay your deposit by November 29, 2019 to let us know you want to join our inaugural Family Journey in Florence, Italy. The interest sheet will close after November 29, 2019.

Please Note:
  • Space on this trip is limited, spots are given on first-come first-serve basis.
  • We will reach out via email to verify your spot on the Family Journey.
Questions? Contact us via email at or call 757-221-2508.