Day 9, 10, 11, & 12 – Vini, Vidi, Vici

Wow! Just wow! I cannot put into words how amazing the last 4 days of our trip were in Rome. The blend of old and new was astonishing, and we all were in absolute awe by it all. Our first day we spent in the heart of the city. In the morning we visited the original Roman Forum. It was great to place a picture in place of all that we have read about it in Latin! To see the magnificent palace on the Paletine Hill and look over everything was absolutely fantastic! From there we moved on to the awe-inspiring Coliseum! It was bigger and better than any of us ever imagined! In the evening we saw a really incredible church that is built on several ancient buildings. On the street level was a modern church, underneath was a medieval church, and underneath that was a Roman villa! It was so cool! On day 10, we explored the religious life of Rome, including the Vatican and the Vatican Museums. Saint Peter’s Basilica was absolutely stunning! It was very interesting to see the tombs of the popes as well, and to read about their lives. The art in the Vatican Museums may have been the most amazing and beautiful we have ever seen! The Raphael, Michelangelo, Bernini, and so many others were absolutely breathtaking, and then to see the masterpiece of The Sistine Chapel? Just wow! On day 11, we explored the Capitoline Museums in the morning. We saw some of the most beautiful art ever! And to even up that, we went to the Borghese Museum filled with stunning masterpieces! To see some of the most famous sculptures ever was astounding! From Bernini’s Apollo & Daphne to his Pluto & Proserpina, all of them were breathtaking! Our last day was fantastic! We spent the morning exploring the ancient villa of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. It was a massive complex, and made how we live look terrible. In the afternoon we explored the beautiful Renaissance Villa D’Este. Its lush gardens and grand fountains were a pleasant and relaxing finish to our long 2 week journey in Italy. And now, as I type this, we are waiting in Rome’s airport, and we would love to extend our thanks to The Paideia Institute for creating this fantastic journey for us!

-JD ’19

Day 5, 6, 7, & 8 – The Full Circle

Everyone who has ever taken a Latin class, especially at Westtown, has talked at length about the eruption of Vesuvius, the city of Pompeii, and the Sibyl of Vergil’s Aeneid. Over the last 4 days we have spent around the Bay of Naples, we have excitedly been able to finally see all that we have spent so much time reading and talking about. Early morning day 5, our Ferry landed in Naples and after a short breakfast we got right to work. First we went to the National Museum in Naples to see some beautiful works of art including a famous sculpture of Hercules, a magnificent mural of Alexander the Great, the Tyrannicides, and so much more! In the afternoon, we has the chance to see the ancient ruins of Herculaneum preserved by the 79 eruption of Vesuvius. After years of studying this, it was other-worldly to actually walk the same streets as ancient romans. It was absolutely incredible! The next morning, we got to hike Mount Vesuvius! The view from the peak was unlike any other, surpassing anything I have ever seen before! And that afternoon we got to see the legendary city of Pompeii itself! As someone who has taken Latin for the last 6 years, it was greater than I ever imagined! You could even see the areas worn down in the streets by Roman wagon wheels thousands of years ago. And for anyone who has taken Intro to Latin, we got to see the house of the legendary Caecilius himself (an insider Westtown Latin joke)! Day 7 was a nice relaxing day that we all needed. We spent the morning visiting a museum in Misenum which had some very difficult Latin inscriptions to read, in the afternoon we took a nice leisurely walk around a beautiful lake which is supposedly the entrance to the underworld, and in the evening we got to sit on he beach reading Latin passages from the Aeneid. A wonderful day, but what was really special is we had the chance to picnic at Teacher Dan’s family home in the Neapolitan area! We had some of the freshest mozzarella you could possibly find, and spent the early afternoon napping in the warm sunlight. A truly perfect day! Our last day we spent the morning exploring the archeological site of the legendary Sibyl’s cave who took Aeneas to the underworld. We explored the eery darkness below and the beautiful fortress above. You could even see people riding chariots on the beach in the distance! Never thought we would see that! Our time around the Bay of Naples has really taken our Latin journey full circle. And now, as I write this, we are on the bus to Rome, excited for what lies ahead but sad that we are nearing the end of our journey.

-JD ’19

Day 3 & 4 – Last Days in Sicily

As we are currently docking in Naples, we are think about our last two days in Sicily. On day 3, we spent hours in Ortygia marveling at Greek temples in the Valley of Temples. The best preserved Greek temple in the world, The Temple of Concordia, was absolutely amazing! And the size of the temple to Zeus was mind blowing! Although in ruins, the statues that made up less than half the height of the building made us all look like ants. We learned lots of interesting things too, such as archeologists think that Greek temples are designed to replicate how they would have been made out of wood and even the woodland shrines they may have made before temples. That night, we stayed in Palermo, the capital of Sicily, and spent day 4 exploring the city. We saw the cathedral in Palermo which was absolutely beautiful and was allowed on the roof to one of the most incredible views we have seen yet! We also explored a Norman/Bourbon/Carthaginian palace (depending on who ruled at the time) which was beautifully decorated with different types of marble, paintings, sculptures, and geometric designs! Afterwards, we had a chance to sit in the garden and read both a passage from the Iliad and a poem by Robert Service which connected with us about how sad we were to leave Sicily despite the great adventures ahead. The last stanza is but a glimpse of this poem, yet I will leave you with it so you may understand our sadness at leaving. “His honour scrolls shall feed the flame / They mean no more to me / His ashes I with bitter blame / Will take to Sicily / And there I’ll weep with heart bereft / By groves and sunny rills / And wishing my laughing boy I’d left / A shepherd on the hills.”

-JD ’19

Day 1 & 2 – The First Glimpses of Sicily

We are finally here! All of us, after exhausting sleepless flights, are in Sicily and enjoying ourselves so much!This picture is from the Greek theater in Taormina, one of the best preserved ancient theaters in the world! Taormina is where we spent our first day and night, the first place we tried genuine Italian pizza and gelato, and the first place we were amazed by the beginning of many stunning views.

That first night we all crashed early, exhausted from what was nearly 2 days of travel, but we were all up and ready go at 8 am to travel to our next location Siracusa (Syracuse). We started by visiting an amphitheater where they would have held gladiatorial games and another theater. What we found especially interesting about this place was that in the rocks above the theater, there were carved out rooms, similar to a place I have seen in Spain where primitive human beings used to live thousands of years ago. Sadly, we could not find the reason behind the “caves” being there, but they were very amazing. One even had a bit of a waterfall in it! After that we explored the city of Siracusa, all on the attached island of Ortigia. Again we saw some beautiful buildings and scenes, but one thing that stuck out for everybody last night was the food. We ate family style, where our guides ordered what they told us was the best and we all ate a little bit. One thing in particular that stood out for me was an antipasta dish made of oranges, onion, and breadcrumbs. A combination I would have never thought to make, but it was fantastic! We also had a penne in a pistachio creme, garlic bread, assorted meats and cheeses, a spicy spaghetti dish with sausage, and so much more. It was all some of the best food we’ve ever had! It’s breakfast time on our third day now, and as people come downstairs to eat, no one is sleepy or slow, but excited for what is to come!

-JD ’19

Italy Senior Project Trip 2019!

Leaving Friday morning, this is the majority of the Italy senior project group! We will be starting in Sicily and then moving into Rome and all over the Southwest coast of Italy. We have all been adamantly practicing our Latin and Italian over the last few months in excitement! Some of the things we are most looking forward to are the Colosseum, Pompeii, classic Italian food, and of course Teacher Dan’s hometown. All of us our super excited to go and cannot wait to start!