Italy Post Trip Article
By Kalie Sommerfeld and Matilda Madfis
After a delayed start, we all met at the airport early in the morning and boarded our plane to Philadelphia. Once there, we bonded as a group during our long layover. Nevertheless, it was totally worth it once we finally landed in Rome.
Our day started right after we got off the plane at 8am. We drove to Castellammare di Stabia from the Rome airport and settled into our rooms at the Vesuvian Institute, situated right on the Bay of Naples. The view was amazing! We had our first Italian meal complete with bread, pasta, and chocolate lava cake. Then we headed to our first ancient city tour: Herculaneum. It was absolutely incredible to see this ancient city just like how it would have been thousands of years ago.
After an incredible first day in Italy, we woke up ready and excited to take on Mt. Vesuvius. We got on the bus which drove us part of the way up the mountain, and were ready to start hiking. It was hard work, but the view was absolutely amazing. It was so incredible to learn about the volcano that erupted and buried ancient towns like Pompeii which we also had the chance to visit on the same day. It’s hard to imagine that before the eruption in 79 CE that the volcano was twice as large; it was really interesting to see the crater on the volcano as well. After that, we headed to the ancient town Pompeii. Our tour guide Paulo showed us around and even showed us parts of the town that he himself actually excavated. It was really cool to see what life was like for the ancient Romans by actually having the chance to walk through one of their cities. Afterwards we relaxed with our first taste of gelato before heading back to the institute.
Today we visited two ancient Stabiae villas. These were different than the ancient sites we had seen before because they were owned by wealthy Romans, so they were very big and had many decorative amenities such as frescos and oriental pools. Then we toured a pasta factory in Naples which patents their own pasta shapes. After we visited an ancient monastery on a vineyard where we enjoyed a slow food lunch. All the food we ate was made from ingredients that had been grown right there in Naples. We also got a tour of the picturesque vineyard and learned about the history of the area.
Today we went to the city of Naples itself; it all started with an underground tour where we learned about the layers of history of the place that had once been an aqueduct and later a bomb shelter. We also had the chance to tour an underground theatre that was found under the bed of an apartment. It was so amazing to learn about the history of such an incredible city. Then we walked around the city and took in the sights while getting a sense of what life in Naples is like and enjoyed an amazing pizza lunch. Originated in Naples itself, legend has it that the red tomato, white dough, and green basil that make up the pizza represent the Italian flag. It was so delicious!!!
After a good night’s rest, we awoke ready for the Walk of the Gods, a mountainous hike along the Amalfi coast. We took in some of the most beautiful sights we have ever seen in our entire lives, and enjoyed learning about the mythology of the area such as the island of the sirens. We were even greeted by a herd of goats along the way. After we finished the hike, we relaxed with lunch and fresh lemonade. It was such a great way to end our time in the south, not to mention just absolutely stunning.
Our day started with an early morning bus ride to Rome where we became acclimated to life there by walking around and visiting Campo di Fiori and Piazza Navona. Campo di Fiori is a square where a market is set up every day with tents in what used to be a place of public executions. Piazza Navona is another square that contains the Fountain of the Four Rivers, a fountain sculpted by Bernini that represents the four largest rivers known at the time: the Nile in Africa, the Ganges in Asia, the Danube in Europe, and the Rio de la Plata in the Americas. We also visited the Spanish step, the Trevi fountain, and the pantheon; it was so amazing!!
Today was we explored Rome through an ancient lense. It began with taking in the amazing views of the city from the top of the monument to Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of united Italy. Then we had an indoor tour of an underground domus, where we were able to look through the glass floor and see another example of what houses were like in ancient times. Afterwards we went to the colosseum and toured the place where gladiator fights took place thousands of years ago; it’s so amazing that it still stands to this day. After that we walked through the forum and saw the ancient ruins of the marketplace, temples, and arches of the time. We were even able to see the grave of Julius Caesar, whom many consider the greatest leader of ancient Rome. It was such an incredible day!
Today we walked to the Vatican where we spent the day. We first went to the Vatican museums where we saw many very famous works of art that were so incredible to see in person. The building itself was absolutely beautiful and every room was so elaborate from the ceilings to the walls to the artwork itself. Then we saw the great work of Michelangelo whose paintings stretched every corner in the Sistine Chapel. Afterwards, we visited St. Peter’s Basilica, which was absolutely breathtaking. We even had the chance to climb to the top of the dome to see the church from up above, and to even look out at the views of the Vatican from very top. It was incredible. After a busy day, we headed to dinner where we were able to meet some of Miss. Gordon’s relatives who shared with us what it is like to live right in Rome.
Our final day in Italy, we visited the Borghese gallery where we had the chance to see more of the famous art works that we had learned about before our departure. We saw work by Caravaggio, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Bernini. Like the Vatican Museum, the Borghese gallery itself was so beautiful and it was so amazing to see all of the beautiful works of art. After that, we had an underground tour of the catacombs, an early Christian burial site. It was really interesting to learn about and see in real person. Yet, we were happy to be back above ground when the tour was over to get in some last minute shopping and enjoy our last dinner all together as a group.
We departed for Cleveland early the next morning; the flight went very smoothly and though we were very sad to leave, we were happy to see our family and friends again. All and all, the Italy trip was honestly the most amazing experience ever!!!!