11 April 2013
We started off with a 7:30am flight from Dublin to Rome, eagerly waiting all the way. When we finally landed we wasted no time, got stuck straight in and hopped on a bus and visited The Colosseum where we received a guided tour all the way around the magnificent piece of art and learned about its long history. From there we got a full tour of The Forum, making our way through the deadly Italian traffic all the way. After that we visited the world famous Pantheon, where the crowds were so big, unfortunately we were not able to see the sun shine through the roof. After the tour had ended we decided we needed a break as our brains were overloaded with the great history of Rome. So we decided to get ice-cream and take everything in. Just before we got on our bus and made our way to our hotel the students decided to make sure that they returned to Rome by throwing a coin in the Trevi fountain. Despite getting a little bit lost on the way to the hotel, we made it there safe and sound. We enjoyed a nice dinner, before being assigned our rooms and preparing for the next day.
On the second day we took a bus ride to the North of Rome, on what turned out to be the nicest day. From the bus, we made our way into "Piazza de Popolo", observing its magnificent monuments and fountains. From there it we went up the never ending stairs to the beautiful Villa Borghese Gardens, where we saw Piazza de Popolo from above. While there, we decided to relax in the park for a while with the packed lunches the hotel gave us. Before we left, we actually got a chance to really turn the two hundred euro we brought into two euro by running around the shops in the busy centre. We exited the centre and made our way to Circus Maximus, where we tried to replicate the classic scenes of "Ben Hur" by having a few students and Mr Cronin run about a quarter of the way up the racing stadium and seeing who finished first. It was almost exactly like the 1959 classic that won 11 Oscars. I'm sure if the people who raced there back in Roman times saw us they would be so impressed. I think everyone thought that we needed a break from all the cultural sights and to let our hair down, so we went bowling which was a good laugh for an hour, followed by a late night snack in McDonalds and Chicken Hut before returning to the hotel and getting ready for day three.
The third day started off with an early breakfast, followed by a three hour bus ride to one the main reasons why people visit Italy, Pompeii. Ah Pompeii, a place where you can't turn your head without seeing a piece of history, whether it was the shops, houses or ... brothels, Pompeii had something everywhere you turned your head. We made our way up to the top, looking at what once was a beautiful town, trying to imagine what it would be like back then, and what this place would be like if Mount Vesuvius hadn't erupted. Speaking of Mount Vesuvius, that was our next stop. We went to the reason why Pompeii is the way it is today. We got a bus ride about seven hundred metres up and walked the rest of the way, tiring out many of the students. When we got to the very top, we were in the clouds, finding it hard to see a few feet in front of us. While we were there, we received a history lesson on the volcano, on how it erupted and how it killed those people in Pompeii. After our twenty-minute history lesson we got to roam around free for a while to take pictures and create echoes within the mountain, before stumbling back down to the bus. We got on our bus and had a long drive back to the hotel and prepared for our last day.
The Final Day:
Our last day started off with a quick trip down to the Vatican where it was like another country, oh wait ... it is, no wonder it is separated by a huge wall. Trying to get through to the Vatican is like going through an airport; metal detector, X-ray, having to leave your bags behind, not even being allowed to wear hats inside. In the Vatican you cannot escape the art, even the chairs are behind velvet ropes. Eventually the students parted and made their way through the crowds, running out of film on their camera and burrowed their way to the most famous chapel in the world, the Sistine chapel. We all know why. As you make your way up the stairs it is very evident that there are no photos allowed, nearly on every step there are signs stating no photos. That didn't stop our boys from attempting to capture the magnificent scenes on the celling and the walls of the chapel. From there we got on our bus, slightly behind schedule to St Peter's square. As we were behind we had to alter the timetable. Instead of heading onto St Peter's Basilica we went to the 'Time Elevator' where we got a more fun, less serious history of Rome lesson. After the 'Time Elevator' and lunch we headed back to St Peter's Basilica and were we lucky to get in, we made it by the skin of our teeth, with about five minutes left. Probably the highlight of everyone's trip was standing in the place where, just a few days prior, history happened. It was fantastic. As night came, we left and made our way back to where it all started, the Colosseum. It was only a few days ago we were there but it felt like ages since we were there.
As we spent what little remained of the holiday hanging out, we took a little time to cram all the students into one room then fool the teachers into thinking there was a noise disturbance in one of the rooms. We showed our appreciation to Ms Mazzucato by giving her a few gifts that all the students chipped in on. The next day we were homeward bound, not wanting to leave Italy and it wasn't just because of the bad weather in Ireland, but I think this trip was to give us a taste of Rome and there is no doubt that a many of the students will one day return to this great country.
Special thanks to Ms Mazzucato, who put the whole thing together, and to Mr Ryan, Mr Cronin and Mr Byrne who accompanied us on the trip and who made it even more fun.
I'm David Byrne, we're back at ten.