Perse classics students explore ancient wonders of Bay of Naples

Georgia Abensour and Hetty Baldwin (both Year 11) provide their reflections on the classics trip to the Bay of Naples.

Our first stop along the Bay of Naples was the lovely town of Pozzuoli, where we had a delicious lunch before having some free time to look around the shops and grab a sweet treat, testing out our Italian! A key memory from the first day was gazing out at the bay from the sea wall.

We made our way to an interesting site, which is thought to have been either a temple or an ancient marketplace, providing a great insight into ancient Pozzuoli. Mr Foster gave an interesting talk about it whilst we were there, which really enhanced the experience for us.

We then visited a Flavian amphitheatre nearby which was incredible. After a quick talk from our teachers (and a re-enactment of a gladiatorial fight from the Sixth Formers), we headed underground into the depths of the site. We felt so lucky to have this experience because it is so rare to be able to see such a well-preserved and impressive site of this scale.

After driving down the coastline and seeing an incredible sunset, we got to our hotel in Sorrento, which was great.

On the second day, we began a full day of sightseeing by getting on the coach to Vesuvius. Even from the road, the views were stunning as we drove our way up the mountain. We then hiked up the final kilometre to the crater, which was very fun and worth it for the views. From the top you could see the entire bay of Naples and the huge crater inside Vesuvius formed by an explosion with the force of two atomic bombs (as our tour guide told us) which led to the preservation of Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 AD.

After our favourite pasta of the trip for lunch, we headed to Pompeii, which was an indescribable experience for us. The scale, detail, preservation and sense of life you could feel within the city was poignantly felt by all of us visiting. Little details, such as the tracks of chariot wheels or sliding doors, made the city come to life and we could imagine what it would have been like in Roman times.

The colours on the frescos and mosaics stuck out to us, as well as getting to see places we’d been learning about at school such as Caecilius’ house and the mosaic of Alexander at Issus in the House of the Faun. Having been given time to walk around in small groups to explore individual interests, the sun began to set as we soaked in the whole day.

On our final day, we headed out to the Villa Poppaea which had these unbelievable frescoes preserved on its walls. We enjoyed identifying the animals and myths depicted (the ‘pavo’ was a favourite) and making tableaus in our tutor groups of scenes depicting Roman life.

We went for lunch nearby before walking to Herculaneum! Our tour guide Connie showed a real passion for the site and was someone we felt incredibly inspired by. We were grateful that she took the time to talk to us about our individual interests and queries, and she dived into her own as well. The site felt very alive, with jewellery, house, bones and beds.

We loved seeing a fresco depicting a woman and a table housed with the real table from the painting, as well as the stunning coloured glass mosaic of Poseidon and Amphitrite – definitely another highlight! It was valuable to see our teachers so enthusiastic about the site and listen to their knowledge as well.

After Herculaneum, we went back to the hotel before heading out to dinner for the final time, which was a great way to round off the trip. We had some very tasty pizzas and enjoyed both ordering in Italian and spending time with our friends, before exploring the streets of Sorrento – we even went to the walls of the city (and more ice cream was eaten!).

This was the best school trip we have ever been on and everyone we spoke to came away enjoying it just as much as we did. This was only possible because of our incredible teachers who came with and spent so much time organising it and making sure it was the experience that it was.

We could clearly see their passion, as they added interesting details about everywhere we went. Both of us felt our favourite site was Pompeii. The experience of feeling so connected to the ancient world and its people was unparalleled and we would both love to return to explore further.

We also really appreciated the free time, being able to connect with other students on the trip and look further into what interested us. The trip also had cross-curricular benefits – we learnt some Italian and some of us have used the pictures we took for our art projects.

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