Naples: Day 4

On the second day in Naples, we woke up earlier than usual to prepare ourselves for Mount Vesuvius. Mount Vesuvius is an active volcano on the east coast of Naples. Mount Vesuvius is famous because of its destruction in the year 79 C.E. It was recorded that it shocked the civilization at noon on August 24th. Before we left the hotel, we were advised to take an additional jacket for the cold weather. It took us forty-five minutes to arrive at the top of the volcano. As soon as we got off the bus, we realized how valuable an additional jacket could be. It was extremely windy and cold. As we hiked higher, the wind was getting stronger. At one point we all had to hold on to something to protect ourselves from the wind. After reaching the starting point of the top surface, we received some information from the guide and started to walk around the volcano. At the same time, the wind was extremely strong; everyone had trouble seeing because of the sand.

The view from the top of the mountain was gorgeous, but because of the weather, we unfortunately had to leave the volcano. So we took a group photo and started to head down. Our next stop would be Pompeii after lunch.

Written by Karsten Chan

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After lunch we visited the ruins in Pompeii, one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. The unique point of Pompeii is that it keeps the original appearance of an over two-thousand-year-old town from the Roman Empire: erupted ashes from the Vesuvio volcano buried the whole village in a very short time. It is a tragic disaster, but it also provides a great opportunity for historians to get a direct idea about what urban life was like in the Roman Empire. We visited different kinds of shops, resident houses, public facilities, and so on. There’s an interesting feature of the city that drew my attention: designers of sidewalks used white bricks as the main construction materials so that the sidewalk can reflect the light from the moon and the street lamps to make the path more visible for pedestrians. It might just be a small detail of the engineering design at that time, but it also indicates the “brilliance” of that past civilizations.

Written by Mark Liu

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Naples: Day 3

We started the day by taking train from Rome to Naples. While on the train, most of us took a nap to prepare for the first day in Naples. After about 1 hour, we arrived at our destination. In the hotel, each one of us received a Neapolitan Typical lunch box that contained five products: Pizza di Scarole, Timballo, Sfogliatella frill o riccia, Mela Annurca (an apple). Among all the four different kinds of food, Timballo impressed us most because inside it was pasta. After finishing our lunch, we walked about half an hour to The Greek Roman Aqueduct, which was underground. This aqueduct was about 40 meters below the city of Naples. During the Augustan Age, Romans dug and later created a 400 k long aqueduct. During the 17th century, the aqueduct was enlarged because of the growing population. However, people stopped digging and abandoned the 200 million square meter aqueduct. Neapolitans used this aqueduct again during WWII, and we saw few military relics there. We also saw some passageways above us. These long paths were used by cleaners to come down and clean the aqueduct. The most fun part of this underground tour was to hold the candle and walk through the passage way that led to the place where water was stored. The passage way was pretty narrow and low so we had to bend down. Also, the University of Naples even started a science program that scientists planted plants in the underground world. The high humidity let the plants survive and people use lights to act as sunlight.

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Through the crowded lanes in the local neighborhood, we walked to the Greek-Roman Theatre, which is hidden underneath a ‘basso’, a typical Neapolitan home. The theatre was built about two thousand years ago. Accessed from a trap door under a bed, we entered the backstage of the theatre. The backstage corridor was connected with several arches. The bricks of the original wall was built with two different arrangements. One is horizontal and the other is grid. This technique is used to protect the theatre from earthquakes. After exiting the basso, we entered a carpentry, where we saw another fragment of the theatre. The Greek-Roman theatre covered by a huge residence of 40 families. The corridor was even once used as a parking lot for motorcycle. Therefore, on the ancient walls, there are several wooden windows. It is so common in Italy to see an ancient architecture on any corner.

 

Before dinner, we went to a bakery to learn how to make typical Neapolitan cakes (Sfogliatella frills o riccia), which have a history of more than 400 years. There are two different kinds. One is made in the shape of triangle with wheat flour, animal fat, honey, and sugar. It taste is more crispy. The other is made in the shape of round with normal flour, egg and sugar. Both of them are stuffed with cottage cheese and a little cinnamon. While waiting for the cakes to bake in the oven, the chefs made two traditional pizzas for us. Finally, we enjoyed the cakes and the pizza made by ourselves.

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Right after we learned how to make some Italian desserts, we took the subway back to hotel. It was actually funicular which is also known as cliff railway. It has a cable attached on the top of the coach and also there are two cables on the railway to help the vehicle move up and down. The coach of the funicular is kind of similar to a tram, but it has stair shape when you see the inside. It was a really nice experience with this infrequent transportation. For dinner we had typical Neapolitan pizza. As Anna had told us before, the pizzas from different parts of Italy are different. The pizzas that we had were really thin and soft. It was really good, and the topping and cheese for everyone is different as well, it’s also my first time seeing a pizza that had French fries as a topping!

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Written by Amy Guo, Selina Qiu, and Lucy Wu

Rome: Day 2

In the breezy morning, we visited St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. Such a grand and majestic monument is an Iitalian Renaissance church. Intricate details decorate the entire monument, especially the dome and Bernini’s baldacchino. After taking a look at the interior of St. Peter’s Basilica, we had a great opportunity to climb to the top. We took the elevator up, which saved us 320 steps! However, we still needed to walk up 231 steps along narrow staircases in order to get to the very top. Though it cost some effort, the views were rewarding and worthwhile.

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After St. Peter’s, we walked to the Spanish steps. The 135 steps were designed by Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi and took two years to construct. In the Piazza di Spagna there is a fountain called Fontana Della Baracaccia. It was built in 1629 before the steps. Gian Lorenzo Bernini and his father were credited. According to the legend, a boat brought by a flood inspired Pope Urban VIII to have the fountain installed.

 

Written by Alex Kang and Justin Min

Rome: Day 1

We started the day by living our hotel at 10 AM and going straight to the Colosseum. As soon as we arrived there, we got an Italian tour guide that spoke English to explain us about the history of the monument. So, basically, the Colosseum used to be called “Amphitheater”, but, then, after some time, people started calling it the way we know it nowadays because of a gigantic bronze statue of the Roman emperor at that time, Nero, the one responsible for its construction. The Colosseum was an arena created to host fights between men, the gladiators (usually war slaves that started being trained in specialized schools) and wild animals (such as lions, leopards, tigers, etc.) or criminals that ended up being executed there. The seats of the audience were organized based on social order: the higher the seat, the lower the class, and, so, the emperor used to seat in the fifth row. The animals used to be imported from different parts of the world, especially Asia and Africa, being kept in cages in a basement underneath the stage (it was kind of a backstage where not only the animals, but, also the people used to stay before the fights). Such basement used to have many elevators that took the animals up to the arena, so the fighters never knew what to expect. Once, one of the senators (they used to seat in one of the first rows) got attacked by a panther, being violently killed by it. Since then, a security fence separates the spectators from the arena. After the Colosseum, we went to one the biggest gladiator’s school in Rome and saw some of its ruins. We, then, went back to the Colosseum, where we got to explore the Forum, the center of the city, where all the main buildings, temples and noble houses were. There, we also saw the remains of the Vestal Virgins’ temple. The Vestal Virgins were noble women who were chosen to be virgins for the rest of their lives and their only job was to keep the temple’s candle lighting (it symbolized life). After a great Italian lunch we went to the Casa Romana, which is an archaeological site that consisted of buildings built in 200 A.D. that approached shops and houses for the middle class Roman citizens. We, then, went back to the hotel and after a little of resting, we went out for dinner in one of the most famous squares of Rome, Piazza Sidney Sonnino.

Beatriz Rigueira, Eugênia Affonso, & Lulu Chavez

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