Category Archives: Summer 2012 – Czech Republic and Italy

Summer Trip: Elon University MBA and Law in the Czech Republic and Italy: June 16-17, 2012

Walking Cultural Tour of Prague

On Saturday, June 16, 2012, we spent our last full day in Prague.  The bus arrived at the hotel at 9 AM and took us to Prague castle.  Prague castle is the largest coherent castle complex (Guinness Book) in the world with an area of just short of 70,000m2. It was founded sometime in the late ninth century. It also sits on top of a large hill overlooking the western portion of the center of Prague in the part of Prague known as Lesser Town.  The Czech government still uses a portion of the complex to conduct matters of state (interesting factoid: President Obama and the Russian PM signed an agreement  in the castle about two years ago as the Czech government played neutral host), but opens the majority of the castle to the public year round.

From afar, the castle has a distinctive appearance due mainly to the design of St. Vitus cathedral which sits inside the castle complex.  The cathedral took over 600 years to complete and played a pivotal role in the thirty years war (one of the most significant conflicts between Catholics and Protestants consuming most of Europe) during the early part of the seventeenth century.  In fact, Prague and the castle were deeply involved in that conflict.  Walking through the cathedral and the whole of the castle complex leads your imagination to what it would have been like to be involved in so much history.  Those buildings have seen it all.  They also stand as testament to the tremendous creativity and craftsmanship as the buildings have lasted centuries and still manage to look unique even today.

After touring the castle, we ate lunch in a restaurant founded in 1360.  The building we ate in has been in use since the sixteenth century.  It really makes you think about how young the US is as a country when you encounter incredible places such as the Restaurant Vikàrka.  After a delicious meal, we left the Prague castle behind and began to make our way back towards the hotel.

The walk through Lesser Town took us by sights such as the John Lennon wall and the Charles Bridge (a stone bridge that has survived several major floods since it was built in the fourteenth century.  Today, it is a pedestrian bridge and a huge tourist attraction.

Once we crossed the Charles Bridge, our official tour ended and we decided to tour the Vltava River (runs through Prague city center) by boat.  The tour included eating ice cream on a covered boat.  It lasted about an hour and cost us the equivalent of just less than $15.  The ice cream and the shade of the cover were very refreshing on what had become a hot day.

We all meandered back towards the hotel at that point.  Some shopped while others made a more direct route.  After a shower, we met for a walk to a Thai restaurant several blocks from the hotel.  There, we ate our last meal in Prague.  It was delicious.  We then walked back down to Wenceslas square for our last gelato of the trip.  We got back to the hotel sometime after 10 pm.

It was a great, yet tiring day as we walked around eight miles in significant heat.  But, it was a very satisfying day as we saw history and witnessed great architectural feats.  Prague is a wonderful city steeped in history and tradition.  I highly recommend that anyone reading this blog to make plans to go to Prague. It is well worth your time.

Travel Back to Elon

On Sunday, June 17, 2012, it was time to begin our trek back home.  The bus arrived at the hotel at 6 AM for an early morning flight.  Like our trip to Prague from Milan, the bus required a separate trailer to haul all of our luggage. Because the flight on the way back was considered international, we were able to check one bag but it had to be less than 50 pounds. Please note – if you are traveling within countries in the European Union, it is not considered an international flight (much like traveling within the United States) and the checked bag must be below 20 kg. On top of that, your carry on will be weighed and cannot exceed 8 kg. I found this out the hard way and had to pay a fee for my carry-on’s additional weight. I mention the weight constraints because the overweight fees can be quite expensive. However, on international flights, the carry-on is not weighed, so you have the ability to transfer the excess weight from the checked bag on to your carry-on bag, saving yourself a lot of money.

The airport in Prague was different from any other airport I have ever been in. The security check is not until you enter the gate area. Therefore, you must get all of your shopping, food, and bathroom breaks in before you head to the gate yet still account for enough time for security to scan your bag. While I was waiting to enter the gate area, I bought a water bottle for the plane. Since liquids are not allowed to go through security, the cashier had to seal my purchase in a clear plastic “airport approved” bag so that my purchase could be brought on the plane. If it was not in this sealed bag, I would have had to throw out at the gate the brand new water bottle I had just purchased in the airport.

After a short flight, we landed in Heathrow airport in London for our connecting to flight to Raleigh. We only had an hour and a half for our layover, which at any other airport would be plenty of time to make a connection, but at Heathrow, it is iffy. After traveling through Heathrow, I now know why. Usually when you are catching a connecting flight, you just get off of the first plane you were on and walk to the next gate you are taking off from. At Heathrow, it is not that simple.

After exiting the plane from Prague, we went through a long line at security. After taking off my shoes, scanning my carry-on, and swabbing the handle of my carry-on for chemical residue, I then had to stand on line to check in to my next flight. The representatives for the airline scanned my passport and then asked questions about the nature of my trip. After going through the first part of the line, we were told we still needed to speak to the representatives at the front of the line in order to completely check in. Finally, an airline representative told us we could proceed to the gate without checking in since we were a large group. It is still a mystery as to why we were allowed to get off of the check in line and go to the gate. After power walking to the gate to make our flight, we went through security once again at the gate. Once we made it to the gate on time for our flight, it was delayed due to mechanical issues.

Since we were inside of the gate, it was airport policy that we could not leave the area unless we left our passport with security. This would not have been too bad of an issue except for the fact that we were all thirsty and hungry. There were only two vending machines inside of the gate area and they took British pounds (a currency we did not have). So please note that when traveling through Heathrow, do not enter the gate area until the last possible minute in case your flight is delayed. After an hour delay, we made it on board and made our way back to America!

Overall, the traveling was grueling, but the trip was well worth it! We met so many interesting and friendly people along the way and got the opportunity to visit beautiful cities. International business was only the tip of the lessons we have learned along the way. Sometimes the cultural aspect of international business is something you need to witness for yourself. I would highly suggest taking the international business class abroad; there is no limit to how much you will learn about countries, people, and yourself along the way.

Written by: Bob Daniels and Jessica Derr

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Summer Trip: Elon University MBA and Law in the Czech Republic and Italy: June 14, 2012

Group at SAP

Group at SAP

We began the day with the VF visit, followed by a delicious lunch at a small restaurant. Here we were able to experience the local food, catch up with our classmates, and ask our tour guide more about the area.

After a delicious lunch we made our way to SAP where we were met by Riina Tirra, head of organizational development. SAP Business Services Center of Europe covers several lines of business: HR, marketing, finance, and global financial shared services. Global financial shared services was our focus of the presentation. They currently have 500 employees on several teams. They are responsible for helping local SAP subsidiaries with finance functions in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Their 24/5 strategy is automated as much as possible.

We learned just how language dependent SAP is, learning they are in 120 countries and speak 37 languages. Their employees need not only financial competencies, but also language skills. Every employee we met spoke a minimum of three languages. We heard German, English, Italian, and several others as we walked through the offices meeting people from accounts receivable, records to reports, and collections.

Their motto is “Shared Service – Shared Success” and they have four pillars of profitable growth strategies and objectives: cost success, employee motivation, growth, and operating margin. Their productivity targets are clearly defined based on benchmarks and shown in Bejing Board offsite. Prague was chosen as the location because it is very cost efficient and is located in the center of Europe. Several classmates work for companies that use SAP and one uses a competitor, so questions and discussions at SAP was one of the best we’ve had so far.

Even though back to back visits was tiring the day was very informative. The bus ride back to the hotel was a quiet one, since everyone was exhausted.

Written by: Melissa Oakes

Summer Trip: Elon University MBA and Law in the Czech Republic and Italy: June 18, 2012 – A Visit with DiaSorin

From our hotel in Milan, the trip to DiaSorin takes about an hour and a half, travelling west to Saluggia.  This small town in the Italian Piedmont has narrow streets that barley accommodate our tour bus. In this part of the world you take your time and take your turn through the single lane roads.  You keep your extremities in the car, lest you bang them on a two hundred year old building that is only inches from the window. We arrive at DiaSorin and pull up to a complex of industrial buildings that seem out of place in this farming region with expansive fields of corn, rice or wheat.  The contrast of finding the headquarters of a modern technology leader in diagnostics concealed between corn fields and a retired nuclear power plant is not lost on any of us.

The bland exterior of the buildings in the complex belies the modern interior of the building. We are greeted by Paolo Criveli, a dapper man with a pleasant smile and friendly demeanor.  It is clear that Paolo wants our experience to be pleasant and informative.  Paolo leads us to a well appointed conference room and delivers an interesting presentation about DiaSorin’s history and its place in the diagnostics industry.  The presentation designed to last about 30 minutes stretches to an hour because of our many questions and Paolo’s enlightening answers.  DiaSorin is a leader in diagnostics and produces reagents and instruments that are used to measure the presence and/or concentration of analytes in bodily fluids (blood, urine, stool…). We are all familiar with the application of diagnostic tests; we strive to lower our cholesterol, men worry about their PSA levels (a prostate cancer screening test) and who hasn’t had to pee in a cup for a random drug screen.  In fact, it has been estimated that upwards of 70 percent of medical decisions are made based on the results of diagnostic tests.

In the corner of conference room stands a Liaison XL, DiaSorin’s newest instrument for performing laboratory tests.  This machine is modern and sleek, standing over six feet tall and seven feet wide.  It has the minimalist, cool look that reflects the fact that the graphic designers at Ferrari envisioned the shell of the instrument.  Our group immediately recognized the XL, because we had seen a group of nine of them in a working diagnostic laboratory in the US.  Prior to our trip we toured the testing labs at LabCorp’s Center for Esoteric Testing in Burlington, NC and saw these machines in there “native environment”.  We heard that LabCorp employs DiaSorin reagents and instruments to produce thousands of results for a single test, vitamin D, and that the health of millions of patients each year is assessed by this testing. This gave our group a unique perspective and the opportunity to understand the relationship between the instrument supplier, the testing laboratory, physician and the ultimate end user, the patient.

Paolo told us that, along with being a recognized leader in vitamin D testing, the DiaSorin produces reagents for infectious disease and blood bank testing along with numerous tests used by generalists, endocrinologists and oncologists.  He expounded on DiaSorin’s innovative menu of stool tests and their development of a molecular testing menu based on their superior “LAMP” technology. We discussed the challenges of fostering innovation in the fast growing field of diagnostics and the fact that DiaSorin spends 10 percent of its revenue on R&D.  It was interesting to hear about the regulatory environment regarding diagnostic testing in the US and Europe and the challenges associated with launching new tests in these areas.  We had an engaging discussion about the labor force in Saluggia and the methods DiaSorin employs to recruit the best scientists to join their company. One member of our group volunteered to join the company on the spot, obviously realizing that the company’s location an hour away from Milan, the Alps, Lake Como and the Italian coast of the Mediterranean are hardships he could withstand. We quickly came to understand why DiaSorin has enjoyed greater than 10 percent annualized growth since 2004.

After our lively discussion, we walked to an adjacent building for a tour of operations. We donned disposable protective suits and booties, both for our protection and to prevent contamination of valuable reagents and cultures.  We walked down sterile hallways with windows into the heart of their reagent production and kit manufacturing facilities. These operations produce highly purified antigens (measured analytes) and antibodies that are used to construct immunoassays. The tour guides were enthusiastic and clearly very proud of their operation.  They showed us that skills in biochemistry, analytic chemistry and cell culture techniques are integral to the production of very pure and specific reagents required to construct their assays.  It was interesting that they choose to manufacture some reagents that could be purchased pre-made because they want to have complete control of the quality and consistency of the product.  The tour guide explained that inconsistencies in the performance of components could impact performance of their kits or cause them to miss production deadlines. Several of our group commented that they had used some of the techniques employed in this facility as part of their own jobs, but on a much smaller scale.

Overall, the visit to DiaSorin’s Saluggia facility was informative and helped the group to see the challenges and opportunities associated with an international biotechnology firm.  We enjoyed it thoroughly.

Written by: Andre Valcour

Summer Trip: Elon University MBA and Law in the Czech Republic and Italy: June 18, 2012

Headquartered in Greensboro, NC, VF corporation is the largest apparel company in the world. Their brands are sold in 150 countries through 47,000 retailers. Their global supply chain organization manages sourcing and manufacturing which oversees the production of 500 million items annually. Last year the company reaped more than $9 billion dollars in revenue.

VF has two distribution centers that distribute brands throughout all of Europe; one in Prague and one in Belgium. Ales Fiala, the distribution manager at the distribution center in Prague, gave us an overview of what it is that the center there does.
The distribution center was built in 2004 and started off as 15,000 square meters in size. Since then it has opened two other annexes covering a total of 54,000 square meters. This particular distribution center only handles the brands Lee, Wrangler, Napapijri, Reef, and Vans. Vans accounts for the largest volume of all sales. Since 2011, Vans has grown 50% in sells of which 80% of is footwear.
The distribution center in Prague ships to Central Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. 95% of their sales are shipped throughout Europe with the other 5 percent of their sales going to developing markets of their indoor brands and outdoor brands in the Middle East and Asia, respectively.
The distribution center in Prague is notable for their unique carton handling system. They have a global IT system that transfers data between operators in Belgium and Greensboro. Their storage process is manual and random. Manually operated fork lifts randomly store cartons wherever space is available. SKUs on cartons keep track of the location of the cartons across all the distribution annexes. Throughout the center conveyors are used to manipulate, track, and route all cartons. In line pack stations scan all of products before dispatch to ensure quality control. The unique IT system makes sure that the center never receives an order for something they don’t have. The electronic data transfer allows logistics to flow smoother with increased efficiency; their average processing time is only 48 hours from order receipt to order shipment.
Where does VF Corporation as a whole see the self in the future? VF seeks to eliminate as many third parties as possible. Realizing that priorities are important and not all variable costs are bad they have targeted two major areas to improve: retail sales and e-commerce. VF is predominately a wholesale company trying to convert to retail. This year the company seeks to have 10- 15 percent of their total revenue come from mono-brand retail stores. (Poland and Germany are an exception to this because they have double-brand retail stores) In addition to the mono-brand stores the company seeks to open establish mono-brand websites. Currently in the European Union e-commerce is not that big of a deal and the return rate from online purchases can be up to 20 percent. Moreover, it takes more time to prepare an online order and every order has a time cap. VF is in no hurry to launch mono-brand websites. They will be launching their first mono-brand website in July to see how cost effective and profitable e-commerce will be.

With regards to their future growth the company is currently stable. Although inventory of the brands Lee, Wrangler, Napapijri, and Reef have cumulatively dropped by 30- 40 percent, Vans has covered this loss growing by 50 percent in the last year.

Written by: Ashley Williams
MBA students with Alex, the distribution manager, and Petr, the assistant distribution manager, after their presentation of how the distribution center in Prague functions.

MBA students at the VF distribution center in Prague. Before the tour of the facilities. Safety first!

Here we see the random storage process used at the distribution center. As well as the SKUs used to identify the boxes and the mezzanine numbers to identify the location of each SKU.

Conveyors which are used to manipulate, track, and route all cartons.

Summer Trip: Elon University MBA and Law in the Czech Republic and Italy: June 14, 2012

On Monday, we made our first company tour at Yamamay, 28 miles outside of Milan. We were given an introduction of the company by Mr. Roberto Manzi, training director. We were then given a presentation by the director of European and international operations and director of marketing. The company predominantly sells women’s lingerie and swimwear, similar to a small-scale Victoria’s Secret.

An initial challenge we identified is with the name Yamamay. It is a Japanese word referring to a type of silkworm that eventually transforms into a butterfly. The company’s founder chose it for it’s metaphorical value, however, the name must be explained and the company’s added value for being Italian is not easily recognized. This causes problems since Yamamay is focusing on branding it’s image as Italian, sexy, glamorous, and colorful.

The company operates mostly through franchising, and it’s strategic plan is to increase it’s presence abroad. Products are priced affordably so the company relies on volume to earn profits. Products are manufactured in China but designed in Italy. Marketing is done in-house to save money.

Yamamay stores are mainly in Mediterranean areas because of similarities in taste and body proportions. Yamamay has no current plans to modify styles based on region but will instead produce larger or smaller sizes to adjust for differences.

After the presentations, we were shown several rooms where designers were developing patterns and choosing materials for swimwear and lingerie. We noted that all the designers were female. There were several interns working who had won a contest in Brazil.

Later that day, a group of us visited a Yamamay store to check it out. The sizes were much smaller than American clothing.

After our visit at Yamamay, Das asked us to explore for the afternoon and do something interesting. A few of us went to Castello Sforzesco, an enormous castle in the city of Milan. It was surrounded by a park with many people walking about.  Within the castle border it was interesting to see a multitude of wild cats roaming around.  They were climbing the walls and grazing about the grass. There were also several lizards scurrying around.  It was like a little zoo at the castle.

Another group of people climbed to the top of the Duomo. They said it was a lengthy climb of around 30 flights of stairs to the roof of the cathedral, but the views were worth it.

That night we had a group that went to see “Luisa Miller” at the La Scala Opera House. We had seats on the side of stage. Unfortunately we could not see the stage from our seats but just listening and using the translation screen we had at our seats gave us a sense of the story.  The acoustics in La Scala were amazing.

Tuesday after we visited DiaSorin we drove through the twists and turns of Italy’s countryside to Cave Di Moleto. It was a small village where two families live consisting of 16 people. They gave us a tour of the village and the “hotel” for the weekend visitors. We had a tasting of the wines produced in the village.  These were most excellent. The village guide told us the difficulties of exporting their wine to the US.  This is mostly due to regulation and the winery’s small size.  The sights from the village were fantastic with 180 degree views of the villages below in the valleys.  Next we were off to Torino.

Cheers,
Lauren DeVane and Wendy Gold

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Summer Trip: Elon University MBA and Law in the Czech Republic and Italy: June 13, 2012 – Journey to Prague

The group spent one last night in Milan, eating once again at our favorite restaurant, Restaurante Romani. After a few hours of sleep and a quick breakfast, we departed for the airport at 7:15. It was an uneventful journey until one of our group paid 250 euros for their overweight bag. The group grabbed coffee and many shopped the duty free.  The Milan airport appeared rather dark and limited in terms of amenities when we arrived but that was the routing to exit the gate. The departure area is actually quite well equipped with food, shopping, and even a baby pit stop for nursing mothers. We waited in an upper area for the red ‘waiting’ light to turn to ‘green’ indicating boarding.  Then we descended to the gate and took a shuttle to the plane. We boarded the AirOne flight, a low cost carrier comparable to Southwest, boarding from both ends of the plane via stairs. Interesting note while on board…sodas and waters were not free.

Then it was off to Prague!
Veronica and Mickel greeted us at the Prague airport.  Veronica gave us a brief language tutorial on the bus while we waited for the bus to leave the parking area and then a full introduction to the Czech Republic, Prague and Pilsen.
Prague is the largest city with 10.3 million people and hosts about 8 million people visitors each year. Pilsen is the third largest population with 400,000. Each year it holds an annual celebration for the liberation of the town by the American Army during WWII, the last liberated town in CZ. Mountains surround the Czech Republic and provide natural borders. Most residents are in industrial positions like auto and train manufacturing, metallurgy, and food manufacturing, followed by the service industry including tourism, and about 3 percent are in agriculture. The salary is increasing but averages about 25,000 koruna annually. Unemployment is lower than in most European countries but has increased with the economic crisis. Tasting tourism has recently increased, both in brewery and winery tours. The southern portion of Moravia is becoming well known for white wines, as well as fruit production like apples, plums and pears.
We would be visiting Pilsen, the producer of 50 percent of the beer made in CZ. Others include budveiser (the real one-not the American version) and several midsized breweries. There are also about 150 mini breweries around CZ that can adapt their styles of beer by the season and the tastes of the public. Light lagers with a bottom fermentation are the most popular. Beer was originally consumed due to the fact that the boiling process guaranteed the sterility of the water. In the 13th and 14th centuries, citizenship and home ownership gave the populace the privilege of brewing beer. Cities soon realized that city halls could brew and realize revenue. This laid the foundation for what are now the breweries in the country, such as Pilsner Urquell founded in 1841.
After about an hour of travel through the countryside, we entered the town of Pilsen (Plzen). It is a medieval town with a checkerboard style layout surrounded by apartment buildings, gas stations,  grocery stores and car dealerships.  We pulled in to Pilsner Urquell and walked into Na Spilce, the basement restaurant on the factory site. It was a gigantic beer hall complete with servers dressed in traditional folk costumes.  Some of the items ordered included: goulash, rabbit in gravy with bread dumplings, pork tenderloin with sauce and broccoli potato cakes, gnocchi and chicken in cream sauce and more. It was a filling meal to prepare us for our tour and tasting.
We crossed the road to the visitors’ center to start our tour, with some paying $100 koruna to take photos. Our guide, Libor, started us on the tour with the history of the brewery.  The first Pilsner Urquell was brewed in 1842. The company is now owned by SAB Miller.  We started at the Jubilee Gate, which was built in 1892 and moved to the historical brew house, which now contains their theater and raw materials exhibition, as well as the largest elevator in the Czech Republic.  We learned about the beer brewing process including high importance of the quality of the barley and water.  Pilsner Urquell still uses the original yeast specimen from 200 years ago, which is stored in yeast banks in Pilsen, Prague and London. We tasted local Saaz hops which are used in the beer. Then we moved downstairs into the historical brew house and saw the large brew kettles, made from copper due to the heat conduction. The brew house was used up until 2004 when the new glass brew house was built next door. Over into the new building where we saw what is called the heart of their brewing empire. They can brew 2 million beers per day there.  Then we saw a short film on the history of the brewery. The last stop was down in the cellars for a tasting, staying together as the cellars include 9km of cobblestone halls that go to depths of 21 meters.  This was the site for aging beer in the past but today is only used for brewing beer for visitors on the tour and one local restaurant.  We were served beer fresh from a wooden keg at least 10 feet high and escorted into a rather chilly cellar bar area. Libor walked us through how to taste the beer and we wandered up to the gift shop to pick up souvenirs for home, enjoying the great exchange rate.
Na Zdravi!
Written by: Elaine Bixby

Summer Trip: Elon University MBA and Law in the Czech Republic and Italy: June 11, 2012

The plane ride from RDU to JFK to Milan was pretty smooth. I had the good fortune of sitting next to a very friendly Italian woman. She is from the Lake Como district and was pleased to hear our group would be visiting Lake Como and Bellagio on the second day of our trip. She recommended some local fish, digestive liquors, and cheeses that are famous in Milan.

We met our tour guide, Andrea, at the airport. He led us to the big tour bus for our trip. When the driver opened the trunk, we saw the size and were little worried about fitting all of our luggage in there.

As we proceeded towards Milan from the airport, Andrea gave us a brief history and description of the city. He informed us that Milan is home to 1.4 million people, which makes it the second largest city after Rome. It has one of the biggest stock exchange in Europe and is known as the economic capital of Italy. Milan is also known for its fashion industry and all the famous fashion power houses like Armani, Gucci, and Dolce & Gabbana have their headquarters in Milan.

Our first stop was the breathtaking Duomo Cathedral. This structure took almost 600 years to build and is the largest in Italy and fourth largest in the world. The exterior is striking with many spires and statuary. The interior is also equally massive and impressive. You can climb the stairs to the roof for 7 euros or take the elevator for 12 euros.

After the visit to the cathedral, we all had some free time and decided to explore the city on our own and all to meet back at the Duomo around 2:30 pm. Some people went shopping and others went to the nearby museum.

Our second stop was Leonardo Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.” Our tour guide informed us that tickets to this masterpiece had to be purchased in much advance and only a maximum of 25 people are allowed at a time for 50 minutes. The painting was not in a good shape and I was surprised to learn that this painting was crumbling within five years of its completion. Two hundred years later, Napoleon’s troops were using the wall and painting for target practice. A Second World War bomb flattened most of Santa Maria, leaving only the wall bearing Leonardo’s painting-perhaps a miracle!

The final stop was thankfully our hotel, Dei Cavalier. We all freshened up and went to dinner around 7:30 pm. Our Elon MBA family enjoyed attentive, kind, and courteous service at this amazing restaurant. Everyone raved about their food, from appetizer to entree to dessert. Portions were generous and the sauces were very flavorful. Overall the meal was a superb experience in a relaxed but professional atmosphere.

All in all it was an amazing first day adventure and I realized Italy is not just a land full of museums of antiquities and art but also a land of amazing warm people.

The second day we went to Lake Como and were treated to an amazing landscape.  We started off with an hour long bus ride to Como city center and had a quick 25 minute free roam.  Next we boarded a ferry for a two hour ride to Bellagio, which is at the center of Lake Como. The lake is the deepest in Europe, with some parts measuring in at a depth of 400 meters.  Along the way we were able to see many famous lake-side villas, some dating back to the time of the Roman Empire. One of the favorite villas was the one belonging to George Clooney.

When we arrived at Bellagio the first task on the agenda was to taste some of the local cuisine.  The café served white fish caught from the depths of the lake itself. Along with the white fish, thin crust pizza was also on the menu. After lunch the group spent about 45 minutes scanning the local silk shops, which the area is famous for. Next it was one final ferry ride, this one much shorter, and back on the bus for a quick stop in Switzerland.  After about an hour of window shopping we all boarded the bus for a final time and made the two hour drive back to the hotel. More to follow soon…

Best regards,

Anu, Andrew, and Mark