Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Classical Italy: other takes on days 2 and 3p

We're Going on a Trip (To a Bath and Sulfur Pits)

After waking up to a great Italian breakfast in our hotel, we set off to see our next sites on our list of stops. We first traveled to the Baths at Baia, an ancient site where the rich and famous generals of Rome would vacation. They enjoyed the hot springs and lavish parties in there homes here. We were able to explore the cavernous ruins. A series of tunnels which would have carried water also were just large enough to squeeze through. Claustrophobes beware. Then we traveled to the Cape Misenum. We saw a beautiful view of most of the Bay of Naples from the top of the old Temple of Jupiter. And finally we stopped at the Solfatarad, a sulfur pit. It smelled terrible. Would not recommend traveling within 500 feet of the place.  Another fun filled day in Italy. Looking forward to Rome tomorrow!
-Joshua Reed

Yesterday, we went to Stabiae, the villa oplontis, and Mount Vesuvius. Stabiae and the villa oplontis were both places destroyed in the 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius. At Stabiae we saw several ruins of ancient villas and bath complexes. At the villa oplontis, we saw an amazingly preserved villa which shows modern time the example of how the royalty lived when not in Rome. Afterwards we stopped for lunch at a typical Italian restaurant (note: the name of the place was "A typical Italian Restaurant") where we had some interesting pizzas and pastas. After lunch we embarked in a perilous bus journey up a windy road to the base of Mount Vesuvius. After a steep 30 minute hike we reached the crater and took some awesome photos of the volcano itself and the surrounding bay of naples. As we left the volcano started to smoke a little and we hurriedly made our escape. Finally we arrived back in Sorrento after sitting in 2 hours of Italian traffic. From the hotel we were released to our own devices to shop, eat and explore the town. I had great time. 
- James Wilusz

Today we did everything from spelunking in underground Roman baths to testing just how hot volcanic sulfur fields can get. The day started with an early breakfast of bread, toast, and croissants, after which we got on a twenty minute bus ride to Baia, but due to the change in time zones the ride actually took closer to two hours. The drive was well worth it, however, as we were soon exploring dark holes in the mountain that had once entertained Roman nobility. Our time in the caves hit a climax when Mr Hochberg unexpectedly descended a pit and disappeared. However, what is now known as "Black Hoch Down" ended with him finding an exit and some of the students going through the same tunnels. We also met up with part time English teacher, part time international spy (why else would he be in Italy?) Mr Yee, with whom a number of the students also ate dinner later that night. Next we went to a castle turned museum on the Cape Misenum where more time was spent gazing out over the misty reaches of the bay than inspecting the artifacts, but it should be noted that the view was spectacular. Next we visited the Cumaean Sybil, or at least where she would have been. In ancient times she would prophecise from inside the cavern, but due to an unfortunate cave in, we were only able to see the ancient site from scenic outside. In spite of this, the temples near the caves were extremely popular, with their view overlooking the water and ancient walls that you weren't allowed to climb on (if you got caught). After this we finally stopped for lunch at the Virgilian Society where we signed our names in the exclusive guest book and dined on gourmet ham and cheese sandwiches, which were especially delicious due to the lateness of the lunch. There is a special charm to eating food you make with your own hands with good friends in the open air. After lunch some of the students played parking lot soccer, to which Mr Hochberg declined an invitation to save them embarrassment (N.B. this has been edited for historical accuracy).  Before leaving the Virgilian Society we all explored an ancient amphitheater. The final stop of the day was a personal favorite: "Sulfa Terra". Solfatara is a volcanic hotspot which releases mixture of super heated water and sulfur into the air through jets and vents. Most of the students chose to return to the bus immediately, but those who stayed climbed the smelly hills, saw who could put their hands closest to steaming holes which they dug, and relaxed in naturally heated, and scented, alcoves. Needless to say the students who now had the sulfur in their DNA were not allowed to sit next to the non-sulfuric students (it should be noted that olfactory based segregation lives on even in our progressive modern society). The day ended with the students hitting the town and eating and laughing with friends in the Italian sunset. 
-Malcolm Reynolds
                Inception lemon picture

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