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Last year’s hugely successful trip to Barcelona had set the bar high and Rome certainly had a lot to live up to!
Following a smooth journey to Rome, everyone enjoyed a little down time in the hotel where the seasonably fashionable green and mustard room decor was enjoyed by all. Suitcases were unpacked and showers tested before the group headed out to explore the local area where they found some authentic Italian cuisine (and a McDonalds) to tide hungry stomachs over until dinner time. Roma Termini train station, just a stone’s throw away from the hotel, proved to be a hive of activity where the lives of Italian businesspeople ran in juxtaposition to tourists arriving into the city, eager to explore. This collision of two worlds was just a taste of what was to come throughout the rest of the week. After a dinner of pasta, pizza, and gelato, everyone was ready for a good night’s rest in anticipation of the cultural phenomenons Tuesday promised!
In the morning, students and staff alike donned their sturdiest walking shoes in preparation for the exploration of the day. This was the day in which tours of every notable site in Dan Brown’s acclaimed ‘Angels and Demons’ were to begin.
The first stop was Castel Sant’Angelo - first commissioned as a tomb for Emperor Hadrian in 123AD. This imposing stone monument was later used as both a fortress and a safe house for Popes, most famously harbouring Pope Clement VIII after his escape through a secret tunnel during the Sack of Rome. The name Castel Sant’Angelo originates from the Devine revelation of Pope Gregory the Great whereby he saw an angel, Archangel Michael, atop the building who gave him a sign that the plague would soon be over.
From the Castel, students had a chance to walk through history and get a feel for the ancient wonders held by the city. The unexpected sunshine on the roof of the Castel enhanced the impressive views of Vatican City and proved to be a fantastic photograph opportunity. On leaving the Castel, students were able to explore the streets directly in front of the Vatican and practise their Italian to buy lunch! The next stop were the Vatican museums and the infamous Sistine Chapel.
Students wandered the vast and heavily gilded rooms of the Vatican, taking in as much as possible while still managing to cram in a few selfies along the way. The brilliance of the Sistine Chapel was admired by all, and many students watched in fascination as Vatican security guards took the ‘no photos’ rule into their own hands. They demanded to see proof of deletion of contraband photographs from members of the public! Following the satisfaction of having seen Michaelangelo’s ‘Creation of Adam’ in the flesh, the group split in two. Some students opted to relax in Piazza San Pietro and bask in the sun, while a handful of culture seekers were keen to experience the splendour of the Basilica di San Pietro.
Those who entered the Basilica were all moved by its immense beauty. Some took the time to pray, find the holy water, and one student even took the opportunity to confess - a rite which is typically reserved for Catholics, but a Vatican priest made a very special exception in this case for a non-Catholic student.
The two Beech House parties reunited in front of the Castel, where they regrouped and made their way to Hard Rock Café, barely complaining of sore feet after the twelve miles walked!
For many, Wednesday was the most anticipated day as it was earmarked for the Colosseum and Roman Forum. On the approach to this Roman giant, all students were awestruck by the sheer size of the building. Once inside, the party roamed the giant walls of the Colosseum, some impressing the staff with their knowledge of the Roman Empire and gladiator fights! The interest, excitement, and exuberance reflected in students was a rewarding experience for all staff, and the sun shining down on the ancient Colosseum walls has created lasting memories.
Wednesday afternoon was given over to wandering the Roman forum and stopping to eat lunch in the sunshine. Some pupils made the most of their free time by enjoying rickshaw rides around the perimeter of the Roman Forum while others soaked up the glorious weather and impressive sights while listening to a live jazz band.
The final stop for Wednesday was the Capitoline Muesums. Here, pupils saw priceless examples of classical art and architecture as well as a bronze casting of the famous Romulus and Remus statue which has been adopted as the symbol of the city.
On Thursday pupils were glad of the chance to visit the Spanish Steps and indulge in some shopping, however, the trip wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to the Trevi Fountain where everyone enjoyed gelato and waved to friends and family back home on the live Trevi Fountain webcam! Once the group had visited Kenzo, Sephora, and other highly sought after shops, it was time to wrap up the trip with one last stop before dinner; the Pantheon. After learning the fascinating history of this brilliant religious site (and some students taking one last opportunity to squeeze in a quick prayer) it was time for dinner, this time in Piazza Navona. Under the light of beautiful fountains and churches, pupils enjoyed one last pizza before it was time to head back to the hotel and pack up and head home on Friday.
Huge thanks to Mrs Ali for organising such a successful trip - a fantastic time was had by everyone involved!
Date online: 20 March 2019