President’s Column For Traill County Tribune

December 24, 2016

Join us on a journey to magnificent Italy!


My wife, Debbie, and I are very excited to be tour hosts for the MSU Foundation and Alumni Association’s first-ever alumni and friends trip to Italy next fall. We’ll be departing Sept. 16 and returning Sept. 26, 2017. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to host a Mayville State trip to Norway last summer and are thrilled to offer this new opportunity for alumni and friends in 2017.

Our Italian adventure will begin in Naples and end in Florence. The group will fly into Naples and have some time to relax and adjust to the time change. The first night will include dinner at a local restaurant and an overnight stay at the Hilton Sorrento.

Sept. 18 will be a day of exploring a wonderland of small villages on the spectacular “Amalfi Drive,” the most famous road in Italy. There will be time to relax in Amalfi, where we can stroll through the cobbled streets or sip a cappuccino and watch the passersby. Lunch will be at a local restaurant with fantastic views of the Naples coast, then we’ll return to Sorrento for a boat ride, weather permitting.

The next day, we’ll travel by bus to Pompeii, the ancient city that laid buried beneath volcanic ashes for more than 1,000 years. A guided tour will reveal the remarkable ruins of an advanced civilization, which was abruptly ended by a violent eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Then we’ll continue to Rome for a special dinner at a lovely Roman restaurant. We’ll spend the night at Hotel Mediterraneo, situated in the heart of Rome.

Wednesday, Sept. 20 will be a full day viewing the many sights of Rome, including the Trevi Fountain, Biazza Navona, and Pantheon. After some time for lunch, the tour will continue with visits to the Roman Forum, the Arch of Constantine, and Circus Maximus. We’ll tour the Coliseum, the most famous monument of ancient Rome and an impressive testament to her past greatness. One can still imagine the roar of the crowds watching fierce gladiator fights. We’ll drive alongside the banks of the Tiber River for an incomparable view of Rome’s oldest and most authentic sections, passing the Synagogue and Castel Sant’Angelo, the fortress that for hundreds of years guarded the Vatican.

The morning of Sept. 21 will be spend touring the Vatican, featuring the Sistine Chapel. Travelers will be able to view Michelangelo’s famous frescoes in new splendor after a recent renovation 

The Mayville State group will travel through the lush Tuscan countryside to Montepulciano, a medieval and Renaissance hill town, on day seven of the trip. We’ll enjoy a cooking class and dinner at the charming Hotel Eturia that evening.

On Saturday, Sept. 23, we’ll take a morning drive in the beautiful Tuscany region to Siena and San Gimignano, two gems of Tuscany. In the medieval town of Siena, we’ll walk through the narrow streets, lined with palaces and patrician mansions, which lead to the “Piazza del Camp.” We’ll continue to San Gimignano, an attractive town often by passed by travelers. This small medieval town has kept its appearance virtually unchanged throughout the centuries. The tour will proceed to Florence for an overnight stay at Londra Hotel.

The group will visit all five villages (Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, Monterosso, Riomaggiore)) of Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage site, on Sept. 24. We’ll have the opportunity to wander through vineyards and olive groves, over stone walls, and along a spectacular coastline. Dinner will be in Florence.

Day 10 will be a walking tour of Florence, including the Basilica of Santa Croce (where Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Galileo, and many other famous people are buried); and the Galleria dell’Accademia – or Accademia Gallery. It is without a doubt most famous for its sculptures by the great Renaissance artist Michelangelo. The day will conclude with a festive dinner at Villa Viviani in the outskirts of Florence.

We’d love to have your join us on this trip of a lifetime! If you’re interested and would like to be added to our list of potential travelers, please go to and fill out the interest form, and we’ll keep in touch with you. While you’re there, you’ll have an opportunity to view and download the detailed itinerary, along with cost information and the registration form. We encourage you to fill out the registration form and send it to Brekke Tours and Travel as soon as possible. Space is limited and reservations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. You won’t want to miss out on this opportunity!

Brekke Tours and Travel of Grand Forks is coordinating all travel arrangements for the Italy trip. If you have questions, you may contact them at 1-800-437-5302 or, or you may contact our Office of Alumni Affairs at 701-788-4750 or