As Spring Term closed, Key Stage 4 and 5 students packed their bags and set off to spend their Easter break visiting Rome. The trip was extended this year to also include additional time discovering and exploring key sites in the Bay of Naples – Pompeii, Herculaneum and the National Archaeological Museum. This was especially for students in Year 9 and 10 who missed their usual Year 8 trip because of Covid. For the current GCSE and A-Level students, these extra days provided further opportunity to study these sites at a deeper level for their exam courses.
The trip began in Rome with visits to the most famous Roman sites as well as spending time in some rather more hidden gems, associated with our various GCSE and A-Level Classical Civilisation courses. Students and staff had a wonderful time seizing opportunities to consolidate their knowledge and develop their understanding at the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Palazzo Massimo, the Roman Forum and Capitoline Museum.
Travelling to Pompeii, students had the chance to see one of the finest archaeological examples of a Roman city and its way of life. The site was awe-inspiring but also deeply impactful for students to experience, as there are pitiful exhibits of the casts of bodies who fell victim to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79. Archaeologists over the centuries began work to cast ‘moulds’ of these victims and students could see detailed impressions of the original bodies, even showing the facial expressions at the moment of death.
We then travelled to Torre Annunziata, where the ancient Roman town of Oplontis was located. Students spent the morning exploring Villa Poppaea, where Emperor Nero’s second and notorious wife Poppaea Sabina is believed to have lived. Students then had a beautiful pizza lunch in Ercolano before exploring the archaeological site of Herculaneum. This area was much quieter than the busy commercial port town of Pompeii, but it housed many wealthier Roman citizens so it was a great opportunity for students to see the remains of some lavishly decorated houses.
In their GCSE and A-Level courses, students are prompted to consider the different experiences of citizens in Rome, ranging from wealthy Emperors, to the mass population of plebians, all the way down the societal hierarchy to slaves who were considered property. This trip provided the opportunity to visit a great number of varied sites, hence we were able to explore the diverse array of lifestyles displayed by citizens and non-citizens in the Roman Empire.
Throughout our trip we were mostly blessed with lovely weather which made it all the more enjoyable to get outside and discover the sites. It was a very busy few days with lots of walking, so I am grateful and proud of the students for their attentiveness and enthusiasm to discover the ancient landmarks! Of course, another highlight for many students was that the fact that the trip was accompanied by many opportunities to enjoy beautiful piazzas, periods of tranquillity and delicious Italian cuisine.
Mr J Hargreaves
Head of Classics