At 5:00am, thirty students and three staff set of to Naples, (the third largest settlement in Italy) with the aim to see one of the most famous volcanoes and the remains left behind of what was once a prominent Roman settlement. Upon arriving in Naples, with Vesuvius dominating the skyline, we headed to the Catacombs of San Gennaro to learn more about the history of the area and how their patron saint came to be. The tour guide walked us through the different layers of the tombs highlighting the changes that were made through each historical era starting with the earliest catacomb dating from the 2nd century AD. It was fascinating to see how the Christian community altered the existing frescos to better symbolise their own teachings and saints and the intelligent ways the locals used strategically placed openings to filter light to shine on the most notable frescos. Following on from this, we travelled to our hotel with Mt. Vesuvius dominating the skyline. Upon arriving at the hotel, the students had time to relax before the next day.
SATURDAY 6TH APRIL 2019 – TUESDAY 9TH APRIL 2019
On the Sunday, we were blessed with glorious weather as we headed to the island of Capri. After a brief ferry trip across the Gulf of Naples, the students were able to take a laser boat trip around part of the island to observe Capri’s famed rugged landscape formed over thousands of years due to the erosional power of the waves. The coastline includes three famous stacks, known as Scoglio del Monacone, jutting out into the rich blue waters as well as the Sirens rock where, legend has it, the Sirens seduced Ulysses. We then took the funicular railway to the top of the island witnessing some magnificent views over the bay filled with stunning orange groves and crystal clear waters before enjoying an authentic Italian pizza. The students then had the opportunity to relax on the local beach and swim in the sea taking in the spring time sunshine before heading back to the hotel to relax and prepare for the next day.
It was an early rise on Monday to ensure we made the most of our trip to Vesuvius and Pompeii. A coach took us to 1000m above sea level and from there, the students hiked to the top of the crater along a trail made of pumice and ash left by previous eruptions, the last being in 1944. Standing at the top, the students were able to see the crater left behind after the 1944 eruption with the crater having a diameter of 700m, a circumference of 12km and measuring 200m deep, showing the students the scale of a volcanic eruption. Alongside the crater, the students had stunning views of the Bay of Naples looking out into the clear waters but also highlighting how two million people live in the immediate vicinity of Mt. Vesuvius. In the afternoon, we made our way to Pompeii and walked through the remains of the ancient city which have been preserved as they were only coated in layers of ash and lapilli – fine material. Due to the finer material, the ancient remains were more accurately preserved showing the finer details of life in a roman settlement. The students also had the opportunity to see some of the bodies that had been coated in the pyroclastic flow resonating the horrific and devastating nature of volcanic eruptions. The final day everyone was up, packed and organised. Many of us would have happily stayed on for an extra couple of days enjoying the Italian scenery, it was such a beautiful and relaxing place! However, once we were back on the plane, everyone was looking forward to heading home and seeing their families. The trip was made so special by the students and all the staff were so proud of them. Everyone who dealt with our group - the hotel staff and fellow tourists, commented that our group was incredibly well behaved and polite making this whole experience a delight.