Sunday, March 18, 2018

Classical Italy Day 2: Mt. Vesuvius, Herculaneum, and Villa Oplontis

First full day of being in Italy, woohoo!

We all enjoyed a hearty breakfast in order to prepare for an exciting day full of exploring ancient sites. The first place we set off to was Mt. Vesuvius. The word “hiking” typically does not thrill me, but seeing in person some place we’ve studied in our classroom back home was awesome. The first half of the hike definitely made me question if track had been putting me in any shape, but thankfully we got a chance to catch our breath at a cute little gift shop that sold souvenirs, such as items made from lava rocks. The rest of the hike was relatively easy and therefore we could enjoy our walk more. In addition, we took a moment to honor the great Latin scholar, Ovid, by throwing the ashes of his burned works into the volcanic crater since he was recently reinstated from exile. Unfortunately, we couldn’t look out at the city below us because it was extremely cloudy and foggy; however, we did have fun translating some Pliny the Younger works regarding the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and at least could see inside the crater. 

Next on our itinerary was Herculaneum. It’s cool enough being being able to view ruins where ancient people had lived so long ago. Not only were we able to do that, but we were able to physically walk through this ancient city as well. Walking through the streets, we could imagine what it was like to live back then before the city was covered in pyroclastic flow. I actually got an eerie feeling while viewing the bones of the Herculaneum people who were not so lucky to get out before the eruption. It puts into perspective how strange and mysterious life is. We were viewing the very bones that made these people what they were, yet they have long since passed.


Mt. Vesuvius' crater on a cloudy day

Villa Oplontis

Our last tourist destination of the day was Villa Oplontis, the villa of Nero’s second wife. We could see the remnants of the frescoes that covered the walls and of the mosaics that covered the floors of the villa. I felt the same kind of entrancement that I had felt viewing Herculaneum. 

For dinner tonight, we had reservations at a restaurant in Pompeii. When the bus entered the city, we proceeded to shout the lyrics to the song “Pompeii”, since it only seemed fitting. We arrived a little before our reservation so we had the opportunity to walk around the city. I felt thrilled by all the energy and liveliness. After enjoying a nice pasta dinner, we headed back. From our hostel, we set out to find a gelato place. I GREATLY enjoyed some tutto bosco (a berry flavor) and creme bel sol (a caramel flavor). 

Back in our rooms, I spent some quality time with my fellow seniors and shared many laughs. When it was time for bed, my body was very ready to fall asleep and my mind was very eager for what the next day would bring. 

Cassie Do 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

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