During the Easter holiday this year’s Classics Trip set off for 6 busy days in Italy, where those involved had the opportunity to see many sights, both ancient and modern, and to get a taster of both Italian culture and its cuisine.
Day One saw the group of 56 students and 10 adults arrive in Naples and head straightaway for our important first appointment – a date with an authentic margherita pizza in Herculaneum, which was very well received after a long morning travelling. After this however it was off to our first ancient site, the ancient city of Herculaneum, which had been destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79. It was a first chance to walk in the footsteps of people two thousand years ago and it was an excellent first site to see.
Day Two saw the group leave early from our hotel in Sorrento to explore the Bay of Naples further. It was first to Solfatara, where we could walk around in the sulphurous crater of an active volcano (in complete safety) and then we made our way to Pompeii for an afternoon in the most famous ancient city in the region. At Pompeii, after a visit to the famous amphitheatre, we made our way to Caecilius’ house, to visit the home made famous in Book I of the Cambridge Latin Course , and then we had plenty of time to explore many other parts of the city at our leisure. It was a fantastic afternoon and one that will live long in the memory of those who were there.
Day Three saw us take an early ferry ride to the island of Capri, one of the favourite haunts of the rich and famous for the last two thousand years. On the island we had the chance to see the island via a boat tour before walking to the far side of the island and to the ancient palace of the Emperor Tiberius before it was time to do some souvenir shopping and to make our way back to the mainland and to the world famous Naples Museum, where many of the finds from Pompeii & Herculaneum are on display. It was a busy but very enjoyable day.
Day Four saw us leave our hotel in Sorrento early in the morning to head off to Rome. En route we stopped off at the monastery as Montecassino, which had been destroyed in World War II by heavy aerial bombardment, but has now been rebuilt and restored to its former glory. Our visit here had meant a very early wake up call in the morning but all agreed that it had been very much worth it.
Once in Rome, we spent the afternoon touring around the Vatican, taking in both the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica itself. It was an afternoon full of spectacular architecture and artwork and with Easter week rapidly approaching the Vatican was very busy. It was a memorable afternoon but many very much enjoyed their more relaxing hot chocolate at the Castell Sant’Angello afterwards.
Day Five saw us take in many sights in the morning. Trajan’s Market, the Imperial Museum, the Capitoline Museum and the church at San Clemente, which not only houses the remnants of an earlier 4th century church but also an ancient temple which had been used to worship the ancient deity, Mithras. It was a site which had seen some kind of worship taking place there for over two thousand years, which is quite a thought.
After a busy morning, we travelled by train to Ostia, the ancient port of Rome. It is a nice and quiet site where students are free to explore at their leisure and it gave many a great opportunity to relax and explore at the end of a hectic day.
Our final day, Day Six, saw us take in some of the best known ancient sights of Rome – the Colosseum, the Forum Romanum & the Palatine Hill. It was a perfect way to end an action packed six days before we made our way back to England and the weather in Rome on that day, like most of the other days of our trip, was glorious.
It was a very enjoyable six days and every member of our tour party took a great deal from all they saw. Many thanks to all the students who were excellent throughout and really threw themselves into what we were doing and seeing. Also, many thanks to my colleagues who accompanied the trip. They were, once again, integral to the smooth running and the success of our itinerary.
I am looking forward to next year’s trip already – Greece.
Head of Classics