A Seventh Grader Reports on Tuscany

Palio-race-2007-3.jpg“Traveling is not just the seeing of sites, but it is your experiences that change who you are and how you think.”

These wise words come from 12-year-old traveler Allison Herring, who visited Europe for the first time in 2008 with National Geographic’s Family Expeditions, and wrote an essay about the traditional Tuscan Palio horseraces that’s featured on the National Geographic Expeditions Field Notes Blog:

With much excitement amongst the crowd, the 17th-century Italian cavalier came trotting out onto the track. Razor sharp swords clutched in their hands pointed toward the clear, blue sky. The cavalier nudged their horses into a gallop, charging around the track with their swords pointing straight out and parallel to the ground.

Then the contradas paraded out onto the track one by one, marching while synchronized to their specific drum rolls. Each contrada consisted of drummers, the race horse, jockey, an example of their original weaponry, and people showing off brightly-colored outfits.

Their extraordinary outfits consisted of animal skins, ribbons, textured fabrics, and unique materials. Riding horses in the parade, the jockeys had on lovely leather boots that came in many bright colors.  From the glare of the sun, you could tell the leather was soft.  My mom announced, “I would like a pair or two of those leather boots!” I agreed, staring at the boots myself.

Thanks to Alison for sharing her experiences with her family. We already like your writing style–keep up the good work!

[Field Notes Blog]

Photo: Massimo Bassano


  1. Dave
    July 12, 2010, 7:29 pm

    That is such an amazing quote – so true and so deep. Allison – please keep it up and I wish you the best in your future travels. Your writing is very inspiring :-) Dave from reebok i-run treadmill.

  2. Beth S.
    March 9, 2010, 6:26 pm

    Ummmm… technically those aren’t the wise words of a twelve year old. The seventh grader paraphrased the words of Miriam Beard:
    “Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”
    Google it.