Albania & Italy
January 4-19, 2024
LEAD Group 41 is traveling to Albania, Greece & Italy to learn about international trade, foreign policy, cross-cultural understanding and geopolitics. Daily email updates regarding the classes travels will be available only during the class.Sign up for daily emails
Day 15 - Friday, January 19
The final day for LEAD 41 fellows came bright and early. The bus rolled out from the hotel at 3:20 AM local time to head to the airport. Fellows checked into their flight, dropped their bags to their final destination, and made it through TSA all before 5:00 AM. They boarded the plane and prepared for take off at 7:05 AM. Their first flight was from Rome to Frankfurt, Germany.
Once fellows landed in Frankfurt, they had a few hours to spend before the next leg of their journey. Most fellows chose to catch a bit of sleep, grab some coffee and eat some breakfast. The westerners of the group had an earlier flight to catch than the easterners, and made their way to their gate. The easterners watched as their cohorts boarded their plane, and took off on the last leg of their journey.
After a few more hours, the easterners finally boarded their plane for their second to last flight. While on their flight, they had about 11 hours to catch up on sleep and reminisce about their International Study Travel Seminar.
Finally, they landed in Denver. After all fellows made it through customs, the easterners had quite a time making their final flight to Omaha. With only seconds to spare, the entire group managed to make it onto the plane! After less than an hour in the air, the last half of LEAD 41 touched down in Omaha at approximately 8:00 PM local time. Fellows picked up their bags, said their goodbyes and headed home for the first time in 16 days.
*Today’s blog contributors are your blog team of Kari Christenson, Jakob Burke and MiK Fox.
Fellows began their last full day in Italy by gearing up for their briefing at the US Embassy to the Holy Sea. After a short bus ride from the hotel to the embassy, the cohorts were then processed into the Embassy. This process included leaving phones, watches and any technology checked until exiting.
LEAD 41 started January 17th with breakfast in Spoleto, Italy. After breakfast the bus was loaded and the class set out to visit a local “frantoio” (oil mill) called Bartolini, which has been established since 1850. Here, the group learned about the production process of extra virgin olive oil. They also learned that the company produces 18 tons of extra virgin olive oil per year on average. After a tour from the oil mill owner, an olive oil tasting was enjoyed. The bus was then boarded to head south to Rome and the Vatican.
Lead 41 started their day with a drive to Montepulciano, Italy. They visited Terra Antica, “A corner of paradise. In the heart of Tuscany.” Home of Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano which has been open for 10 years, this agritourism spot specializes in making wine for non-traditional pairings. Lead 41 learned from the founder, Mario, about his business & his wine creation process. They were served a lunch consisting of cheese, bread, cold cuts, & the main dish, pici. They also tasted 3 red wines that are unique to the Tuscany region from Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano.
After a buffet breakfast in Bologna, LEAD 41 departed for a meeting and plant visit to Inalca, where they process beef. Inalca was founded in 1963 by Mr. Luigi Cremonini. Inalca is recognized worldwide and the entire production chain of beef from farm to finished product is integrated within their company. It manufactures and markets a full range of beef, fresh and frozen, vacuum packed processed ready burgers, canned meat and meat extracts, both under its own brand and for third parties.
LEAD 41 began their twelfth day by leaving the influential city of Milan shortly after 7:30 AM. There was a heavy fog that is typical of this time of year with a light frost on the ground. As the class traveled south to Parma and the fog began to lift, one could see a very flat terrain that has been farmed for many generations. The valley in which they were traveling had been formed over a period of millions of years by the Po river with the Alps located to the North and the Apennine mountain range that runs vertically along the west side of Italy. As they near
LEAD 41 had a 5:30 AM hotel departure from Athens, Greece for the airport. Aegean Airlines gave most fellows a new experience with a fun external and double (front and rear door) loading system near the runway.
The class very quickly took off and had glorious cloud accented views of various European Mountain ranges, villages and the Adriatic Sea. Landing in Milan, Italy, views of the Swiss Alps did not disappoint!
In Greek mythology Zeus controls the weather and this morning he surprised the LEAD 41 fellows with rain. The itinerary initially had the class visiting a marble quarry outside of Athens, but it ended up being closed due to weather. Dr. Hejny and the rest of LEAD 41 pivoted and found a local guide to escort us to the Site of Thorikos, in the southern region of Greece, where we visited the oldest known theater in Greece.
After staying overnight at Kastalia Boutique Hotel in Delphi, LEAD 41 traveled from Delphi to the Vagonetto Mining Park, which is a thematic park. While the class was at the mine, they participated in a self guided audio tour and also a guided tour. The guided tour took them just over 59 feet down into the mine. While in the mine fellows took a train ride to the end of the tunnel. Both tours allowed the class to learn about the history of Greece’s industrial heritage. They also learned that bauxite is used in things like concrete and aluminum.
Following breakfast at the hotel, LEAD 41 walked through the Old Town area and were able to see a castle. They then took a short ferry ride to an Island where they had time to explore the small village.
Then, the class took a bus ride into the mountain city of Meteora to visit the monasteries. The formations of the mountains were beautiful by themselves and unlike anything many of the group had ever seen. The beautiful construction of the various monasteries on the mountain peaks were truly amazing.
On January 7th, after a buffet style breakfast at the hotel we got a chance to walk through Kruja Antic Bazaar, with more than 200 crafted shops. We continued to the castle, and visited the Ethnographical Museum and Skanderbeg Museum. We then continued for a meeting and a visit at the Kruja Municipality. Later we drove to the Town of Fushe Kruja which was visited by President George Bush in 2007.
After several long days of travel, LEAD 41 was privileged to wake up in the countryside of Tirana at the beautiful Nana Resort. We started our morning with a tour of their operation where they have 100 milk goats, 6 milk cows, many ducks, a greenhouse and orchards. Our breakfast there was comprised of things entirely from the farm and was wonderful.