Tag: Pompeii

Time for a Study Break…or a Trip to Pompeii

Time for a Study Break…or a Trip to Pompeii

Since the beginning of the semester my friends and I have been talking about taking a trip to Pompeii. We talked about going a few different weekends, but we never got ourselves together and made the day trip. Then all of the sudden it was the week before finals and we decided we needed to get our act together and head down the coast to Pompeii.

To get to Pompeii from Rome we took the train from Termini station to Naples where we transferred to a local train that dropped us off just down the street from the city’s ruins. We ended up buying tickets for Pompeii and Herculaneum for 20 Euro—another city that was destroyed by Mount Vesuvius’ eruption that we visited later that day.

With help from the guide book I had with me and the brochure provided we gave ourselves a pretty solid tour of the city. Pompeii was a lot bigger than I expected and not covered in ash at all like I thought it might be. The city was set up like a typical ancient Roman town with a large gate at the entrance, a Forum where most of the political, judicial, and religious matters would have taken place, and cobbled streets lined with villas.

Many of the buildings in the city were actually quite well preserved so we got a glimpse of a traditional Roman bathhouse and several villas with beautiful frescoes and mosaics. The Romans were masters of engineering as can be seen in marvels like the Colosseum, but I was just as impressed by the no-slip tiled floors in the bath. And especially impressed by the “fast food restaurants” we saw throughout the town. It was uncommon for Pompeiians to cook lunch at their homes so there were counters set up with spaces for pots to keep warm or cool for people to enjoy quick lunches together during the day.

Pompeii’s most famed remnants are the plaster casts of the people who once lived there. These eerie molds show them in their final moments and left me feeling uneasy. Without these casts it’s easy to imagine that this city just deteriorated over time, but these offer a reminder to the devastating end of this city. Most of the plaster molds are actually in a museum in Naples, which we were unable to visit, but I’m sure it would be worth the trip.

After lunch, we spent the rest of our afternoon in Herculaneum. This smaller town closer to the coast was even more well-preserved than Pompeii. And because it is lesser known there weren’t as many tourists—never a bad thing. If you ever get the chance I would visit both of these cities since they offer different looks into the past.

Even though we were cutting it close to the end of the semester, we managed to sneak this trip in and it worked out as quite the nice study break. I’m still a little taken aback by the fact that a trip to Pompeii could count as a Finals study break. Yea, I don’t mind studying in Rome at all.

Cruising Down the Amalfi Coast

Cruising Down the Amalfi Coast

I would have to say this past weekend was one of the top 5 best weekends of my life.  I went to The Amalfi Coast, the coast of Italy that includes places such as Naples, Sorrento, Positano and the island Capri.   I went to all these places thanks to Bus2Alps, a bus tour company that caters to students.  They arranged the itinerary for all three days and even booked us a hostel.  It was a great, relaxing weekend.  Here a few of the things I did:

1. Went on a boat tour all around the island of Capri.  We saw the beautiful houses built into the mountains, and we sailed along crystal clear blue water.  It was probably my favorite thing I have done here so far.

2. Jumped off the boat just outside the Blue Grotto.  The water was freezing, it wasn’t THAT hot outside, and we had no towels… but it was so worth it!

3. Went inside the Blue Grotto.  We had to duck down on our tiny boat because the entrance ceilings were so low.  Once we got in, we sailed around for a little bit as our guide sang to us.  The water looked insane.

4. Went up on a ski lift to the highest point in Capri.  The ride up was terrifying (I’m scared to death of heights) but the views once you got up there were well worth it.  We were so high up we were actually in the clouds.

5. Cliff jumped in Positano.  Again, I’m terrified of heights, so here’s a picture of me jumping off the very lowest cliff.

6. Laying on black sand beaches in Positano.  Just look at the view from behind the beach.  This picture do it justice.

7.  Pompeii.  This town, under ancient ruins, is full of history.  It was so well preserved that you could almost envision what it looked like all those years ago.  We saw bodies preserved but covered in ash of people who died from Mount Vesuvius taking over Pompeii. Here’s a picture of all of us by an ancient theater.

This was a weekend I will never forget.  I never thought I’d be able to say that I cliff jumped in Italy as well as swam near the Blue Grotto.  It was unbelievable!