After mourning the loss of the Greek national team against Costa Rica in what some might consider the best game of the world cup so far, we gathered ourselves and bade good bye to Sorrento. We arrived at the airport and bought lunch. Ryan bought a Big Mac and did not finish it.
We then caught a plane to Athens airport and made our way to the Hotel Stanley. After settling into our rooms we ate dinner on level 9 and Mr Chambers gave us a short explanation of Athenian history.
We then raced up to the top floor where we all jumped into the pool with a beautiful view of the Parthenon.
In conclusion today was mainly a day of travel and rest.
Hello again from Sorrento. Today concluded our historical sightseeing in Italy. We started the day with a small visit to the seaside fishing town of ‘Positano’, where we enjoyed incredibly beautiful scenic views.
From there we continued along the incredibly thin roads of the Amalfi Coastline with some particularly skillful driving on the part of our bus driver. We then proceeded to stop at the main village along the Amalfi coast where we were given an hour and a half to explore the village, it’s beaches, shops and rather small basilica.
After our somewhat short stop we continued along the coastline south to the Bay of Salerno, where we arrived at our last historical site in Italy – Paestum. After a brief lunch break, we explored the Greek and Roman ruins which are just north of the modern day city. Angelo (our guide) did a great job of bringing passion and life to the content which we were learning.
After having a guided tour of the miniature museum at the site, we proceeded to observe the original ruins, and in particular, the three temples which that are well preserved. Two of the temples are dedicated to the Greek goddess Hera (Roman god Juno) and the other being dedicated to the goddess Athena.
We concluded the day with a nice but occasionally playful swim at the nearby beach.
The day began at the civilized hour of 7am when we were shoved onto a bus and whisked away to the daunting Mt Vesuvio. After getting all worked up on the long climb to the crater ahead of us we plunged into the mists and ascended the mountain.
We were introduced to our guide Julian who to Mr Chambers delight spoke fluent Latin.
We entered the palace and instantly we were surrounded in 20 types of marble.
The garden however are the main feature of the palace because they stretch out into the horizon on a slight slope and it is because of this slope that allows a large continuous flow of water across 120ha through five fountains each depicting a story of shiny white marble. We rode through the Caserta gardens on bikes that broke down repeatedly along the way. I think next tour needs at least half a 6-8 hours there just to hear chamber rant on about the mythology behind each statue.
Following the water back down the slope to the palace we left to go to an amphitheater in Pozzuoli which is one of, if not the best preserved ancient Roman ring in the world. We could explore the cages and the arena underneath the ring and try to imagine what it would have been like 2000 years ago. Callum Tim and I re-enacted a scene from Gladiator which I inevitably won and we left for the lava fields Solfatara.
After shedding a brief tear for the retirement of last years guide Bruno we walked across the moon-like landscape toward gas vents coming out of the earth. On the way we threw large rocks at the ground and felt just how close we were to a chamber of extremely hot gases. After having a look at boiling mud pools we then took the long trip back to the hotel.
It’s incredibly late here in Sorrento, so we will make this brief. This has been (from the whispers of the boys) the most enjoyable day of the tour so far. We started out early with the usual thirty boys raiding the thinly supplied breakfast buffet. By 7:30 any evidence of the presence of food had vanished, and we prepared for a grandè walk on the island of Capri. Before the fun could start we voyaged across the Mediterranean ferrying to the island. Jaws dropped at the views of the island once we arrived. Clear skies and the Sun perched high the above the peaks of Capri promised a good day filled with sunburn. We scaled the mountain luckily not by foot but by a cable car. Again high on the balconies of Italian villas the cameras were flashing from every boy. The boys clearly distracted by the beautiful island and American tourists slowed our progress but eventually we started to trek up to the Villa Jovis. Not naming any names but map difficulties were encountered but eventually we persevered through the steep steps and sweat to make it to the 334m peak which felt like every boys Everest. The Emperor Tiberius’s love of luxury became clear as we walked through ruins of the once indulgent villa, a remarkably massive estate of the Ancient Roman Emperor.
Enthusiastic about the downhill trip Tim Latif sparked into song resonating around the island and made the Newington presence known on the island
After the boys split for a earned lunch break the journey continued and we moved to the harbour for a hour boat trip. Circling the island we finally stopped and the long awaited swim lit every eye. Everyone quickly on cue flung themselves into the water enjoying the deep blue water. Boys started to flip from the boat and Mr Chambers took this opportunity to try and do the same but fell and had a rather uncomfortable landing followed by a loud slap. The boys made sure Sir did not forget that.
After the long swim the staff let us venture by ourselves to look around for themselves. We saw many uncomfortable boys not use to the hard pebble beaches walking awkwardly on barefeet. Although was no Bondi the water was great and the Italians packed the beach adding to the local experience. Others took the opportunity to converse with the locals or again got caught up with the American tourists. Tom Lance managed to spend money to buy matching hats and others sunburnt retreated to shade and ate gelato.
By the end of the day lots of sad faces were seen when we had to leave Capri, many were considering a permanent move to the island. All the boys clearly loving the island and not ready to leave talked of future trips back there but the ferry would not wait any longer so we boarded and left. This spelled end of a great a day filled with Sun, swimming, food and history but mostly importantly American Tourists.
Its been a really long day and instead of giving you a longwinded essay of what we did today, we’ve decided to save ourselves (and you) the trouble and just give you the highlights. By way of a brief overview, we visited the excavated ruins of Herculaneum with our tour guide Mario and proceeded onto the Archaeological museum located in Naples which exhibited preserved items from the remains of both Pompeii and Herculaneum. But here are the best things:
– (Super) Mario the infamous tour guide that showed us around the ancient ruins of Herculaneum, he was slow off the mark but loved by all
– Kenn and Finn (2 self-proclaimed alpha males) getting cornered by numerous Italian women + a confused Italian gentleman
– Everyone exhausted but happy in front of the archaeological museum located in Naples
– A part of the archaeological museum that everyone found interesting to say the least . . . .
– Mr Chambers and the latin boys flaunting their supposed translation skills
– Mr Chambers content after parading his latin prowess
– The boys engaging in a discussion about Hercules in the archaeological museum in Naples
– Observing the some 300 skeletons found in the boat sheds where people hid during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, it was a rare treat to see these skeletons on public display
– Walking through the semi-preserved homes of Herculaneum that were buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD
With a relatively early breakfast at 7:30AM, we packed and were ready to go, with Tom Lance and I making our presentation about Pompeii in the foyer of the hotel before we departed for the station, having a quick stop to buy water and fruit. Having caught the train, we arrived at the Pompeii station(‘Pompei Scavi’) at approximately 9:30AM.
After a short walk, we arrived to the site of Pompeii and were introduced to our guide Vincenzo, who gave a short introduction before we left for the amphitheater.
After we left the amphitheater, we walked among the streets, discussing how they were preserved so well and the techniques of archaeology in the past. We worked our way to the Garden of Fugitives, which displayed a number of preserved plaster casts of human remains.
Vincenzo led us through various side streets, discussing various facets of Roman life as well as interesting facts, and showed us a vast unexcavated and unexplored area, which composed nearly 40% of Pompeii.
Over the course of the next hour, we walked among various houses, exploring multiple rooms such as the atrium and fascinated in the well-preserved frescoes. We also navigated through specific parts of the town, viewing places such as religious altars and monuments.
At approximately midday, we entered a theatre, which is showed in the heading photo.
We then walked down the main street where we observed fountains and the features of a typical street.
We later entered into the forum, where the whole site was centered around and various collections of artifacts were situated.
At 1PM, we left for lunch and having finished our meals, we visited the lupanar(brothel) where there were interesting pictures decorating the wall and the bakery where we observed ancient Roman baking techniques.
After we viewed these, we walked among a few more houses before we left Pompeii. Then we travelled by train to Oplontis, the luxury villa of Poppaea, Nero’s wife, where we walked among the colorful frescoes and viewed the ancient pool.
Footsore and weary, we returned to the hotel where we all had a swim before going out to dinner and exploring Sorrento at night.
Pompeii, unlike any other historical site(besides Herculaneum, which is featured tomorrow), allows the casual observer to relate and empathise with their ancient lifestyle. We walked the cobblestone streets which the ancient Romans walked, admired the same monuments, appreciated the same architecture… and fascinated in the same erotic artwork.
In fact, when we closed our eyes, it almost felt like nothing changed at all.
Having an intense dose of ancient history over the first two days, we mixed the pot this morning by traveling to Monte Cassino. After a two-hour drive along the Italian countryside we arrived at the 6th century Benedictine Monastery / WW2 battleground / Casino. The site is situated on the top of a 1700ft. peak at an almost vertical gradient.
After reveling in the traditional dances of the Italian monks (pictured below), we were gifted with quick tour of the monastery, after which we were granted a half hour silent tour of the Museum situated at the heart of the construction.
The tour of the museum provided two main benefits to us students. The first, was that we were able to appreciate the works in an environment that was so different from previous experiences, as it lacked the over-crowded atmosphere that was so typical of the Roman sites. The second benefit was the wonderful views that it offered (see below) – which consequently lead to our exploration of the Polish WW2 cemetery – containing the deceased allied Polish soldiers during the battles along the Gustav line.
After examining the sites, one aspect that we found particularly interesting was the dates at which the soldiers perished. Having a decent understanding of the main battles fought in this region, it was interesting to link the dates with those on the tomb stones of the soldiers. Seeing the hundreds of soldiers tombs marked with the dates of the significant battles solidified the gravity of the aftermath of war.
Our stomachs gave in on the way to Sorrento. At the bus driver’s recommendation we made a stop at the local deli where we cleared out the prosciutto and consumed a total of 52 sandwiches between the lot of us.
We are exhausted, so we are wrapping this up without doing it justice and going to bed. Sorry everyone. Other interesting points of the day include:
Learning that the bus driver was the cousin of the centre back for Italy was his cousin – (the guy that got bitten by Suarez)
Today after an early start, we set out into Rome again.
We went to the forum in hopes of going to Palantine hill. Unfortunately we did not have enough time, as we were to meet the tour guide at the wedding cake palace.
After meeting up with the guide we went to the ruins of the theatre of Pompeii, were Julius Caesar was killed. This has now become a sanctuary for stray cats.
We then continued on to the Pantheon. This is where performed our speech. Inside we saw the tombs of the Italian kings, Vittorio Emanuele II and his son Umberto I.
After this we continued to the Piazza Novona. Here, we stopped for lunch and saw a statue dedicated to the four main rivers of the Ancient World (Nile, Danube, ). This was also the site of an arena which hosted athletic events. After a brief stop at a gelato store, we continued by bus to the Vatican city. While waiting for the bus, Kenn successfully haggled ‘RayBans’ for half-price (10 euros, which could have been 5).
We reached the Vatican, and soon we where skipping the 100 metre queue and going into the main gate. After passing through the security check, we learnt about the early christianity and its art in Rome. Soon enough, we were at the Sistine chapel, where Mr Chambers once again got caught taking photos.
After dinner, a few of us went to Porta Maggiore, where we saw a tomb dedicated to a baker and his family. This is a unique monument, as it is very rare to find a freedman, who had become so wealthy that he would be able to afford to have his tomb built just outside the city gates.
Today at around 2pm we arrived in Rome after a very long travelling period. We hit the ground running and immediately left for the hotel, where after a couple of minutes to freshen up, we left for the colosseum and the forum. When we arrived there was a quick lecture given to the boys by professors W. Naayen and J. Hare.
We saw many interesting sights in the Colosseum and the forum while also learning about the interesting history of the colosseum. This included one quote fom our great local guide Carlotta that will stay with us for the rest of the trip: “Rome is like a lasagne.”
By the time we got to dinner we were a bad combination of hungry and exhausted however after a big meal, everyone is going to bed light hearted and hopefully fresh for another big day for tomorrow.