Pupils take in the sights of the Eternal City
Over half term, 22 students from Year 11 and above travelled to Rome with the Classics Department to explore the ancient capital of the Roman Empire. A night walk across central Rome was the perfect introduction to the Eternal City (as was an ice cream from one of Italy’s finest gelaterias) and culminated in the spectacular walk past the Imperial Fora on the approach to the Colosseum. That was the destination the following morning as the group explored the colossal Flavian Amphitheatre, the setting for the blockbuster Gladiator and the scene of many a combat to the death.
Next stop was the Palatine Hill, home to Emperors and generations of Rome’s, rich and powerful: a hill that gives us the very word ‘palace’, owing to the splendour of the dwellings there. A quick stop for lunch was followed by a tour of the Roman Forum, soaking up the atmosphere amidst the temples and basilicas. Sweeping past the Fora of Julius Caesar and Augustus then Trajan Markets and Column, the group climbed to the summit of the Capitoline Hill to visit the treasures of the Capitoline Museum, seeing the Capitoline Wolf in the bronze and the Capitoline Venus in the Marble. Back in the flesh again, a stroll past the scene of Caesar’s assassination was an eerie Halloween prelude to a well-earned dinner around the stunning Piazza Navona. A traditional night-time visit to the Spanish Steps rounded off an action-packed day.
Rising early the next day, the group set off for the Mausoleum of Augustus, at the Heart of the Campus Martius, before visiting the Ara Pacis, Augustus’ altar of peace, a visual reminder of the efforts he went to in publicising his role as benefactor of Rome. A short walk away lay the most indulgent of all Italian cioccolata calda café stops and from there it was time to visit the Pantheon with its famous oculus. The afternoon was spent across the Tiber in the Vatican Museums, exploring the magnificent collection that ranged from classical masterpieces through to the world-famous Stanzas of Raphael and the spectacular Sistine Chapel. A descent into St Peter’s Basilica dropped us in just as Mass was beginning and visitors congregated amid the awe-inspiring surroundings of the late Renaissance church so heavily influenced by Michelangelo.
The students’ final day began with a visit to the gargantuan Baths of Caracalla, imagining the spectacular domed caldarium, before a final visit to the Centrale Montemartini Museum, a classical collection housed in a former power station. After four days of glorious Italian sunshine, the flight hoem took us over London, illuminated not just by the city’s lights but also by the numerous seasonal firework displays. The group returned having fully appreciated why Rome is such a special city and the Classics Department are already looking forward to sharing their love of Rome with Perse groups in the future.