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An Italian half-term adventure full of culture, stunning views, and the best gelato

A group of our Classics students from Years 10-13, accompanied by Mrs Fforde, Mrs Downes, and Mrs Rogers, spent their October half-term exploring the beautiful ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The trip was full of incredible sights and the group left feeling cultured and inspired with a new appreciation of Italy’s remarkable beauty. One of our Year 13, Sixth Form students, Isobel Wood, tells us more… 

In the early hours of a wet Saturday morning, a group of tired students gathered aboard a coach, waiting to begin our odyssey to Naples, a journey that would span the peak of Vesuvius to the ancient streets of Pompeii. Upon reaching Naples, tiredness bled into anticipation when we reached the amphitheatre of Pozzuoli, an experience that opened a doorway into the world of the Romans, with great beast cages and a mighty arena. We were surrounded by the echoes of Roman grandeur as if we could see the bloody games that would have taken place in this great structure. From the crumbling walls of an amphitheatre we continued to a volcanic site, with rolling fields of pastoral Italy concealing the gas bursts that define this rural setting. 

Our voyage would next take us to the pristine halls of the Naples Agricultural Museum, in which we were confronted with a world of gods and heroes, immortalised in grand marble structures. Material images that brought us beyond the walls of a classroom, to the legacy of the Roman civilisation. Meandering through the halls of art and marble, surrounded by friends, you can truly understand how art and culture can immortalise humanity, transcending mortal life-spans to preserve life in a beautiful format. 

From the museum, we ventured into the city of Herculaneum, whilst always remaining in the shadowy presence of Vesuvius. Herculaneum was an impressive site, allowing us to fully experience what Roman life would actually manifest as, from the houses they lived in, to the streets they walked. However, there was a poignant tone to this experience, as we followed in the steps of those who had fallen victim to Vesuvius, very much a ghost town preserved in history. 

Next, it was time to embark on the most challenging leg of our odyssey, as we endeavored to climb Vesuvius, to better understand the volcano that had brought such devastation to this region. The walk was indeed tiring and tricky in places, though this only made the views from the summit that more valuable, granting us a sense of pride in what we have achieved as a group. The descent from Vesuvius saw us wiser in our understanding of the volcano, thus allowing us to better understand what the eruption would have been like for the people living there. 

Finally, it was time to explore Pompeii itself, as what was once simply a story became a great city before our eyes. As we stood in the forum of Pompeii, we were transported back into the heart of Roman life, as if time itself stood still in this magnificent structure, surrounded by well-preserved temples, shops, and houses. In groups we meandered through the many streets, exploring this hidden world at our own pace, seeing great mosaics and even Caecilius’s house. The classical value of this trip was further elevated by the delicious food we ate, from pizza to gelato, truly the great tastes of Italy, all accommodated by the wonderful hotel we stayed in, a hidden jewel in Sorrento. This trip was crowned by the good company it boasted, surrounded by good friends we laughed and competed in quizzes, an experience that brought us closer to not only the classical world but each other. 

By Isobel Wood 13Z 

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