Waking this morning in Florence, we felt refreshed after a good night’s sleep. We headed out early to the train station to catch the 10:10 commuter train to Pistoia.  The people here could not be any more helpful – answering all our questions and helping us find where we needed to go.

We arrived in Pistoia around 11A and walked from the train station to our hotel.  A much smaller city than Florence – but with similar medieval architecture and remnants from when it was an enclosed Roman city.  We settled into our hotel room, unpacked and then headed back out to find some lunch.

Our tour began at 2:30P – and we spent close to two and half hours walking the streets with a wonderful guide who took us to a number of churches, piazzas, and other beautiful spaces.  It lightly rained throughout our walk – but the beauty and the ancient sense of place shone through.

Our newly found colleagues (there are about 12 in the group) mostly come from New England;  a few from Manhattan, Brooklyn; and further north.  It is a interesting collection of educators – some teachers, some professors, some directors.  Everyone seems so happy to be here and eager for tomorrow when our study tour begins in earnest.  Our two facilitators are Susan Etheridge (Professor at Smith College) and Rosemary Agoglia (Director of Education Services at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art).

We will spend the day tomorrow visiting a few different Education Centers:  Villa Baldi Papini, Area Rossa (specifically designed to support families – a special place for very small babies and toddlers), and Area Gialla (a space dedicated to storytelling and to puppets and toys handcrafted with creativity and inexpensive materials).

I already look forward to writing in this space tomorrow – with reflections, observations, and more photos.

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