A Roman Holiday: Italy Trip Highlights

Magistra Paff and Mr. Grogan
Over the winter break in February, a group of students and parents went on a Roman adventure led by Latin teacher Magistra Paff and history teacher Mr. Grogan.

The Italian odyssey began in Venice. We visited the Doge’s Palace where students used their mythology to recognize sculptures and other iconography used by the Doges to express their power. Bright-colored confetti littered the streets of Venice in celebration of the beginning of Carnival on the public boat! Delighted students got a glimpse of the boat parade, for which the residents of Venice dress up in various themed costumes to paddle their gondolas or boats through the Grand Canal. Later that day, students rode in a gondola themselves and then painted their own mask for Carnival.

On day three, we set off for Rome via train. After seeing the Pantheon, students learned how to make Neapolitan pizza dough with Marco, a world champion pizza dough maker. Then we visited the Capitoline museum where students recognized the famed she-wolf and Romulus and Remus. From there, we went to the top of the Victor Emmanuel Monument, where we got a spectacular 360-degree view of the eternal city of Rome.

Day four started off with a bus ride to the Colosseum. We got special permission to go up to the uppermost floors of the Colosseum. Then we visited the Roman Forum and visited the pyre of Julius Caesar. We took taxis to the Baths of Caracalla, where students gawked at the monumental size of the ancient spa which students study in the seventh grade.

On day five, we took the metro to Aqueduct Park, a hidden gem in the outskirts of Rome. Harbor Day sixth grade students have been studying the importance of water in all of their courses so this was a visit of particular interest. Students got to get up close to the Key Stone arches of the aqueducts and walked through the water channels of ruins. Throughout the city of Rome, there are potable water fountains, including the Trevi Fountain, which supplies the Aqua Virgo, an aqueduct restored by Pope Clement XII. Students delighted in tasting the delicious clean water supplied by the Aqua Virgo. The students then toured the Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s Basilica, marveling at the grandness of the sculptures and structures.

On our last day in Rome, students took part in a Gladiator School. Harbor Day students learn about gladiators in Latin. It was wonderful for the students to experience what type of training a gladiator would go through typically. “Ave, Imperator, morituri te salutant,” the students shouted before fighting their peers. They learned the proper way to give the losing gladiators mercy or to send them to their death for the people’s entertainment. Before arriving in Naples, we stopped at the amphitheater in Capua, an amphitheater older than the Colosseum. Students enjoyed exploring and wandering through the underbelly of the arena where the animals stayed before the Bestiaria, animal hunts.

Finally, we were off to Pompeii, which HDS students study in Latin VI using the Cambridge Latin Course. Students were excited to explore Roman homes, left to posterity by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Students applied their knowledge of the rooms of a Roman house. We also explored a Basilica in the forum of Pompeii, which sixth grade students recently studied in class. We then set off for Capri on a speed boat of sorts. Since the weather gods smiled upon us this day, our families saw the gorgeous coast of Capri on a private boat tour of the island.

Siberian winds unfortunately curtailed our travel plans on our last full day in Naples. Instead, we visited the Archaeological Museum of Naples, enjoying the beautiful mosaics and frescoes pillaged from Pompeii during the early years of its “archaeological excavations.” (Being the first archaeological excavation, archaeology was undeveloped and was more similar to plundering than a strategic excavation and preservation of a historical site, as it is now.) Having made mosaics in sixth grade, HDS students appreciated the meticulous craftsmanship displayed in these masterpieces. We also had fun walking through the Piazza Plebiscito in these strong winds while students and parents alike had to fight to stay on course. It was an action packed week of experiences, where students enjoyed seeing actual places they are studying in school while bonding with their classmates.

Harbor Day School

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Harbor Day School is a co-educational private independent K-8 school established in 1952.