Arriving in Naples in warm sunshine, the Oundle party headed for Herculaneum, where they were able to see the remains of the Roman seaside resort preserved by a series of pyroclastic flows, thanks to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, a constant presence looming over the town. The pupils particularly enjoyed seeing the ‘thermopolia’ (Roman fast food counters, in effect) which gave them an insight into life for the everyday Romans.
Climbing to the top of Mount Vesuvius the following day, the group were able to peer into the spectacular crater left by a series of volcanic eruptions. This enabled them to gauge for themselves the immense scale of the eruptions that obliterated the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum which they could see below. A highlight for many pupils was the afternoon visit to the site of Pompeii, and being able to look round its amphitheatre and forum.
Henry Sleight (16) said: “Having pored over the exhibition at the British Museum it was so much more moving to walk amongst the debris of life and death in situ. To be atop the volcano of Mount Vesuvius one moment and then walking down its greedy molten passage to the very streets of Pompeii beneath, it was impossible not to feel the intimate, human scale of the tragedies.”
The group visited the island of Capri and the villa of the Emperor Tiberius – but avoided the fate of the unwanted slaves tossed over the side of the cliffs to the rocky shoreline below.
In Rome, the pupils spent their first day walking around some of its more ‘modern’ attractions, like the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. On the final morning, they rounded off the trip with a visit to some of the city’s more well-known ancient attractions, like the Colosseum and the Forum.
William Brettle (16) said: “Overall, the trip was a huge amount of fun and included swimming in the sea off Sorrento and eating plenty of pizza and ice-cream in the evenings.”
Classics teacher and trip leader Clare McDonnell added: “Visiting ancient sites is a fantastic opportunity for pupils studying classics to see first-hand the ways in which the ancient Romans may have lived – walking down the streets, peering into the windows, and sitting in the theatres. We are already looking forward to the classics department trip to Greece in October 2015.”