Hello, not much to say. Our final two days of the tour, two travel days. We left in the morning from Tolon by coach to Athens, with the back of the bus choir filling the bus with their sweet sounds. After the relatively short flight to Dubai, we then flew to Sydney, where we were greeted by a convoy of our parents, before going home and resting up for school on Monday.
Overall, this was a very educational but also very enjoyable tour, which I’m sure has changed, matured, and taught everyone many things about themselves and the world around them.
Thanks to all who have contributed to this blog, by helping set it up, manage it, write it, or follow it.
And especially thanks to the great teachers who ran this great tour: Mr Chambers, Mr Pyne, Mr Scali, and Dr Marshall – Martin.
Hello. Today was the last day of actual classics learning. After a relatively short trip to Mycenae, the home of Agamemnon, we met our guide and started off at the catapolis (lower city), where the ‘beehive’ tombs (so called because of the shape of the overall structures) were. Following this, we followed our guide to the rest of the city where she helped us link together all the contextual information related to Agamemnon, Mycenae, and the Trojan War. We then learnt about the strategic layout of the city before having a look around. After lunch, we were given free time, with many of us choosing to go on the boat ride that Mr Chambers had booked, while the rest just chose to stay at the beach and relax there. Many of us also had a taste (or more) of the great bargain for gyros nearby. (2 Euros for a whole wrap with gyros, chips, and vegetables) Then, it was off to bed to get ready for the flights the next day.
Hi all. This morning, we visited the ancient site of Epidavros, which contains one of the most amazingly well-preserved ancient theatres in the world. It is so well preserved that it was decided that it would be slightly restored and then used to host plays now. However, we discovered that Epidavros was more than just a theatre, as it was a ‘healing centre’, the sanctuary of the God of Medicine, Hippocrates, which contained exercise areas, as well as living quarters. We learnt that the theatre was considered to be a healing or purging of the mind and more importantly the soul, and that this would occur through the catharsis (process if releasing strong/repressed emotions) of emotions that was caused by the tragedies. Following this site, we visited the Venetian fortress at Nafplion. This was a more modern part of the tour, as we learnt that the fortress was a Venetian attempt to secure the land they had expanded to during the period around the end of the Medieval Age and through the Age of Discovery (late 1400s, 1500s). This was an excellent photo opportunity as it was situated on a cliff. We then had some lunch around the town centre, before returning to our hotel, where we had free time until dinner, with many of us choosing again to go for a swim. After the nourishing dinner, it was time for the long-awaited, long-anticipated, long-feared Classics Tour Quiz. Loaded with drinks, the teams battled through 75 questions about classics, the tour group, and the tour in general. The final winner was Team 4 (aka. Stacy’s mum consisting of: Aki Flame, Darcy Pointon, Edward Henderson, Jack Hewitt, Spencer Cornish and Theodore Iannuzzi) .
Hi all. We started today by visiting the site of Olympia. After some discussion about the history of the Olympic games and their religious and cultural importance (something often overlooked), we began to examine the site. We saw the remains of the Temple of Hera and the Temple of Zeus, as well as the Philippeion (the only structure in Olympia dedicated to humans) and many treasuries, representing the various city states of the time. On top of that, we saw the Palaestra, the Gymnasion, and the Workshop of Pheidias, where the renowned gigantic ivory and gold statue of Zeus was said to have been constructed. Following this, we visited the Olympia Museum, which contained many great exhibits, such as the well preserved sculpted ornaments from the Temple of Zeus, the masterpiece that is the Hermes of Praxiteles, the grand Nike of Paionios, and the Helmet of Militiades (an extremely significant piece of military history) . Lunch was then thoroughly enjoyed at an all you can eat style restaurant nearby. We then travelled to Tolon by coach, with many of us choosing to have a swim and play some ‘water polo’, once we had gotten there. To top off the day, we celebrated Van der’s birthday with some cake during dinner.
Today, we visited the site of the Oracle of Delphi, center of the cult of Apollo. After meeting our awesome guide, Penny (who was very enthusiastic, knowledgeable and philosophic), we went through the Delphi Museum. She explained in great detail the varying friezes and statues, as well as the different periods of art. It was especially rare to see the statue of a charioteer, which was one of four well-preserved monument excavations from the 6th century BC. Before lunch, we had a quick swim at a part of the Gulf of Corinth, where the water was mystically clear. Afterwards, we went by coach over the Rio Andirio River to Olympia. We went for a walk after dinner, before discovering a soccer field, to the joy of everyone.
See you all soon.
Hello. After checking out of our hotel, we met the Assistant Director of the Australian Excavation group in Greece, Niko. He provided some interesting discussion on excavation techniques and then took us up to the Pnyx Hill, where the ecclesia or citizen assembly met, in other words, the home of Athenian and international democracy. After bidding farewell to Niko, we went to the National Archaeological Museum, which contained an extremely wide range of rare and beautiful exhibits including ancient pottery, weapons, and items recovered from shipwrecks (in particular, the Antikythera, which contained many rare and amazing scientific as well as cultural pieces). We then departed for Delphi, the place the ancients believed to be ‘the centre of the world’.
Hi all. Today, we caught the metro to the Acropolis, where we proceeded to discover the historical significance of the site. We learned that the Erectheion, not the Parthenon, was the main religious site of the Acropolis, the Parthenon being more for show. Following several photos, we proceeded to the ancient Agora, the heart of Ancient Athens, and the museum containing several relics found their, including Ancient Greek souvlaki technology. After a lunch in the flea market district of Athens (Monastiraki), we were taken to the Acropolis museum, which included a life-size display showing all the reliefs of the Parthenon. Following this, the Tsironis (Greek side of the Iannuzzi family) very generously treated the boys to gelatos and other assorted sweets on the way back to the hotel. Gratification and love to the Tsironis family. After dinner, most of the boys travelled to Syntagma square where we saw the change of guards, which was much more unique than in most other countries. We also gained a much deeper understanding and appreciation of the tension and brinksmanship in Greece during the almost revolutionary times of the ongoing financial crisis. After some very interesting discussion about the Euro zone, and the issues surrounding their finances and social problems, we returned to the flea market district to finish up some shopping and explore further. However, little did we know, the day would become all the more eventful. As we were walking back in the dark, some members of the group noticed a couple of guys following us. Now that the overall street-smartness of the group was a lot higher than at the start, we managed to gather together tightly under the guidance of Mr Scali. This disoriented the ‘pick-pockets’, who had to split up. Having had a night, eventful enough, we took the safe option of the metro back to the hotel. All in all, today was full of absolutely wonderful and useful experiences.
Hi, today was a travel day. After checking out in the morning, we transferred to Catania Airport. From there we flew to Rome, and then Athens. During the flight to Rome, we could see many of the locations we had been to through the windows of the plane, such as Sicily. After arriving at the hotel in Athens and digging into the dinner, many of us went up to the roof and lay down on the reclining seats, taking in the great view of the lit up Parthenon and Acropolis.
After checking out of our hotel in the morning, we went to Mount Etna by coach, climbing about 2000 metres, before changing for a cable car to take us up higher. Mr Chambers is said to have rattled his carriage, causing much worry among those in it. Although the views were already magnificent, they improved even more after we took some jeeps/rough-terrain-buses to go even further towards the top of Mount Etna. Once we had explored the area, we headed back down, where we stopped off for lunch, before having an afternoon off. Some went for a swim while others choose to play some football in the Piazza. After dinner, the football continued with some locals.
Today, we started off the day at Neapolis Archaeological Park of Siracusa where we saw the Teatro Greco (Greek Theatre), where one could find tragedies, popular assemblies, and circus games. We also saw the typical Roman Amphitheater that was constructed in Siracusa when it became a Roman colony in 21 BC. After going through the Piazza and Cathedral (which had interesting mentions of St. Peter) in the old city of Siracusa, we took the coach to Taormina. Following lunch, we saw another theatre before spending some time at the beach. At night, we had a passagiata (stroll around town), before playing some more piazza football.
Hi all. We started off the day with the Valley of Temples where we saw the remains of several temples (with columns of doric style) including the Temple of Zeus and the Temple of Heracles. After gaining a deeper understanding of the differences between the several main types of columns, we moved on to Siracusa via Villa Romano del Casale, where we saw some great mosaics depicting images of things such as hunts. However, due to preservation efforts, parts of the site were shut down. After going to the hotel, we went for a walk around Siracusa, where we saw some locals playing a sport like ‘kayak water-polo’.
After a 5:30 breakfast we disembarked the ferry, first visiting the Cathedral of St Mary in Palermo, where we experienced our first taste of Sicilian architecture. The multicultural nature of Sicily was better seen in the Monreale Cathedral, in which Byzantine, Roman and Arabic influences are all visible in the golden mosaics contained therein. After swapping coaches due to a bus breakdown drama, we reached Erice, a beautiful town perched on the top of a hill. We were told of its significance in the Peloponnesian War, and its decline in the Middle Ages. On the way to Selinunte, we were treated to yet another bus substitution due to our bus sustaining a serious injury (i.e. smoke pouring from the engine). After an hour or so of street soccer while waiting for our replacement bus, we reached our final archaeological site for the day, a beautiful temple with a great view of the Sicilian coastline. After some rock-climbing and several photos on the ruins, we proceeded to Agrigento where we were to spend the night.
Today, after breakfast, we set out to climb Mt. Vesuvius. We learned that its current shape has been formed by lava flows since the famous eruption of 79 A.D. From the top we had a breathtaking view of Naples and the surrounding areas, including the sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum, which we had previously visited. Following this we travelled into the heart of Naples, where we had pizza for lunch, courtesy of Mr Chambers’ great bargaining (6 Euros for a whole pizza and drink). Up next was the National Archaeological Museum, which displayed a plethora of different works, both from and about the ancient world, including miraculous mosaics and frescoes, as well as majestic statues (such as the Farnese Bull, carved from one huge piece of marble). In the evening, we boarded our ferry, hoping that it wouldn’t capsize on our way to Sicily. Unfortunately, we are not able to recall any information about the football game tonight.
Day 7 was a momentous experience for the boys packed with action from both the ancient and modern world. After the absolutely scrumptious breakfast, we set out to the barren wastes of Solfatara. These plains have been continuously active for 4000 years, slowly oozing noxious fumes. We met the legendary Bruno, whose been tending the Solfatara for over 40 years! Not only did he tell us a great deal, he seemed to be immune to the foul odours of the Sulphur and Phosphorous fumes. After a brief respite and some greasy pizza, we stopped at Cumae which was thought at one stage, to be the entrance to the underworld. This was a great treat for the Classics boys; especially those who learned of Aeneas’ journey to meet his father in the underworld. Mr Chambers also mentioned the Sybil of Cumae who was the Roman equivalent of the Delphic Oracle, who was supposedly possessed by Apollo. To top it off, we spent 3 hours in Sorrento – a continuation of the initial visit there. As it was one of our last chances to purchase some quality goods (especially for all our dear family and friends back at home), many Euros were added to the Italian GDP, with the boys receiving a great dose of ‘retail therapy’. Overall, this was a great day during which the boys got the best of both ancient and modern worlds.
After a later-than-usual wake-up, we proceeded to catch a train to Sorrento, and from there a ferry to Capri. We then embarked on a circumnavigation of Capri, viewing the Blue and Green Grottoes. Towards the end of the boat trip we went for a brief swim in the pristine turquoise waters. Subsequently we filled our bellies and slaked our thirsts within the town, many boys consuming lemon granita to combat the effects of the sun. In the afternoon we ascended to the Villa Iovis, where the emperor Tiberius famously had his enemies thrown off a certain cliff. After returning to the Hotel, we spent the evening within the centre of Vico, admiring the locals and their relaxed lifestyl
Once again, we were greeted by an average breakfast of bread and marmalade at Hotel Oriente. When we reached Herculaneum, we realised its value as an archaeological site, being greeted by a bird’s eye view of the site upon arrival due to the 20 metres of volcanic sediment under which the town was buried. Due to the fact that it was covered by pyroclastic flows, Herculaneum was much better preserved than Pompeii, as falling debris had a lesser destructive effect. From our young and knowledgeable tour guide, Rosemary, who was very effective at engaging her audience (Il Capitano in particular), we learned that Herculaneum was richer than Pompeii due to its seaside location, and was a town for the rich to be at leisure. Following this, we went to Oplontis, where we saw the Villa of Poppaea, which even by modern standards would have been a luxurious property. The extensive and miraculous handcrafted mosaics all around the site, and the almost Olympic-size pool were just some evidence of the wealth of the owners. To finish off the day, we spent a couple of hours in Sorrento, where we discovered some great shops and enjoyed the cafes, leaving us eager to return.
After a brief train trip from Vico to Pompeii Scavi, we met up with our guide Vanda. After an introduction of the site, we proceeded to enter the site, beginning the tour with the amphitheatre of Pompeii. The amphitheatre was designed for 20000 people, showing just how popular the gladiatorial games were during the Roman era. Upon proceeding further into the site, it became apparent that there were several different architectural styles employed in Pompeii, with yellow tufa and brick being two of the most widely used materials. We learnt that due to the amount of ash, and the amount of falling debris from the eruption of Vesuvius, several of the second floors and roofs of the Pompeian buildings were destroyed. However, there were still several frescos and mosaics preserved well, considering what they’d been through. At the Villa Misteri, we saw evidence of the architectural structure of a large urban villa. We also observed several plaster casts in Pompeii, showing a variety of characteristics of the inhabitants that occupied Pompeii during the eruption of Vesuvius. Hot and weary, we returned to Hotel Oriente for dinner, and subsequently we caught a train to Sorrento, only to be disappointed because a change in train times meant that we could not spend anytime there. Despite being a tiring day, much light was shed on the Roman lifestyle.
Today, we had an amazing time at the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel, seeing miraculous mosaics (displaying images as clear and coherent as paintings) and life-like sculptures (I know, it’s a cliche). Through these exquisite masterpieces of some of history’s greatest artists like Michelangelo and Bernini, we gained an appreciation of the true beauty of art, and a deep understanding of the power and motivational force of religion and faith. On a lighter note though, it was interesting to note the ‘slightly irritated’ guards in the Sistine Chapel who confiscated Jeremy’s IPad, which was returned only after some promises from Mr Chambers that no more photos would be taken, a promise soon broken, resulting in the expulsion of our group from the Sistine Chapel. We were also awestruck by St Peters Basilica and it’s majesty. Following this, some of us climbed to the top of St Peters, through the Cupola, which allowed us to taken breathtaking panoramic shots of most of Rome. As we rode the coach to Naples, via the Monte Casino/Monastery, the boys kept up their spirits with the sounds of Carly Rae Jepsen, capable of shattering double glazed glass. Unfortunately, it seemed to shatter the engine, which was overheating, forcing us to stop at a motorway service station, wasting precious time. The boys, however, reluctant to waste a second, launched into a game of soccer. Resuming our journey, we discovered to our dismay that Monte Casino was closed, but at least it provided a great photo opportunity for everyone. Finally, we arrived at our hotel in Vico, Naples, with the boys resting, in preparation for the next day at Pompeii.
To all those in Australia, take care and see you in a few weeks.
Day 2 has come to an end and what a glorious experience it was ! The boys were famished and were greeted by the saltiest bacon in existence. Needless to say the boys loaded up on the brekky and we set out on our day’s journey. Our first stop was the fabled Flavian Amphitheatre (commonly known as the colosseum. From there, we were guided around ancient Rome, seeing so many of the things we study. Mr Chambers became very excited when we were allowed to go into the Curia (senate house) although he did stop short of impersonating Cicero! For lunch we had pizza near Trajan’s column. Another fan favourite was the monument of Victor Emmanuel III, but nothing could top the free roaming around piazza navona. The standout performer was Robi McDonald paying 20 euro for a fakew AC Milan jersey. After a fantastic day, the boys visited the awe striking Trevi fountain, and threw their coins into the beautiful waters. Overall, another fantastic day.
After passing through Dubai airport, we landed in Rome. The boys were wearied by the air travel. Having landed in some guy’s farm (Fiumacino Airport), we made our way into Rome. After checking into our hotel, we made our way to the Ara Pacis, on the river Tiber, on the Metro. We then walked to the Pantheon where we were awestruck by the quality of the architecture. Theo fell in love with it all. We also sampled some of Italy’s finest delicacies, such as gelato. After a long day, we made our way back to the hotel, where we watched the non-eventful Italy vs England Euro match. Needless to say, Mr. Chambers was quite annoyed with the outcome but nonetheless the atmosphere was brilliant.