Food and Gelato in Italy (Henry)
Not a day went by without eating great Italian food and gelato. In Naples, our favorite was the pizza. Naples is known for incredible pizza, and it really was delicious. My favorite kind of pizza was Margherita, but really everything was amazing, some of the best pizza in the world.
In Rome, we ate gelato every night after dinner, and the last night we had it twice including a visit to the famour Giolittis near the Pantheon! The gelato is unbelievable and doesn’t even compare to the ice cream we have here in California. We devoured every cup or cone of our favorite flavors such as straciatella, tiramisu, mango, fragola, and countless others. Not only did we have great pizza and gelato, we also had great pasta, salads, meats, and appetizers. Some of the best pastas we had were ravioli, bucatini, spaghetti, tortellini, gnocchi, and rigatoni with favorite sauces called amatriciana, cacio e pepe, carbonara, ragu, and many others.
Breakfast was not as elaborate as lunch or dinner, but it was still pretty good. Typical fare included bread, rolls, salami, cereal and yoghurt, ham, croissants, several kinds of pastries, and hard boiled eggs. We enjoyed so much great food throughout our time in Italy, and the food was definitely one of the highlights of the week!
Palazzo Massimo (Carla)
The Palazzo Massimo is a large museum near the Baths of Diocletian, and Termini, the main train station in Rome. It is a classic, 19th century Italian mansion, converted into an open, 4 storied museum around a courtyard. The main attractions for us were the antique statues, including the famous original Hellenistic bronze Seated Boxer. Any existing Hellenistic bronze statues are of note, as we usually only have the Roman marble copies at hand. The Seated Boxer is especially notable for its extreme realism, typical of the Hellenistic period. Whereas the Classical era artwork presented the human figure in idealized, noble ways, the Hellenistic statue depicts the suffering, dynamic, emotional aspect of the human experience. The boxer is weary, his ears damaged from years of fighting, injuries on his face and hands, and his genitalia are surgically removed, an extremely realistic detail which was common in ancient sporting culture.
On the upper levels, we saw multiple recreated Roman household rooms, and were able to examine the different styles of Roman wall painting, as well as many mosaics. Very striking was the triclinium, painted on a black background. It is a typical example of third style painting, where attenuated columns and karyatids are commonplace, as are small, detailed, fantastical scenes of humans and animals. However, the most notable room on this floor was by far the recreated Garden of Livia. Rescued from Livia’s villa on the Palatine, this room is entirely empty, except for two benches from which we could see the detailed floral frescoes depicting a luscious garden, with fruits and flowers of all seasons in eternal bloom. The shifting lighting make it seem as though days have pass in a matter of minutes.
Capuchin Crypts (Tatum)
On our last day in Italy, we visited the Capuchin Crypts. When we first arrived, we perused the museum filled with relics and artifacts. Afterwards, we descended into the musty and dimly lit burial place of over four thousand monks. Skeletons decorated the walls and fibulae crawled across the ceilings like ivy. The skeletons were separated and strewn throughout and skulls peered at onlookers as if they were the ones examining us. I asked Magis if this was disrespectful since, in modern times, people are reluctant to move bodies from their resting place and disassemble them. But then again, those were different times and circumstances.
Galleria Borghese (Connor)
One museum we went to on our trip to Italy was the Galleria Borghese. This museum is housed in the beautiful Villa Borghese and contains many sculptures and paintings. The focus of the first floor were a few beautiful Bernini sculptures accompanied by various other sculptures. The most impressive sculpture was The Rape of Proserpina. Bernini showcases his skill here by using different textures for different parts of the sculpture, differentiating the skin from the dog fur, and by showing tiny details such as Hades’ hands pressing into Proserpina’s skin. The second floor was made up of paintings.
Galleria Borghese (Katelyn)
On the 7th day we went to the Galleria Borghese, where the Caravaggesque and Caravaggio paintings are housed, as well as many Bernini statues. I really enjoyed seeing the Bernini statues which are not based on the classical style and contain a large amount of emotion in every aspect of each piece from the clothing of the figures to their expressions. The detail was also amazing, especially in the Rape of Proserpina in which even the indents of Hades’ hand on Persephone’s thigh were clear and suggestive of the lust reflected in Hades’ eyes. While walking around the museum, I was able to find numerous examples of Bernini’s skill at portraying high emotion and power. These statues drew my eye, as they connected with the viewer in their intensity.
Another exhibit I loved was the Caravaggesque flowers, which are paintings made by artists trying to imitate Caravaggio’s style. The reasoning for my fixation with the flowers is that they were made of simple and uncomplicated strokes, but contained a complex realism which drew me in. Also intriguing about the paintings were the rare and varied plants depicted, many of which I had not seen before.
The first feeling that I got from the Pantheon was awe over the size and the quality of the construction. The structure is almost two thousand years old and up until the middle of the 20th century it was the biggest concrete dome in the world. I think that the construction and scale is amazing, but when you get inside, the most impressive thing is the oculus in the top of the dome. You look up and you can see birds and the sky. It seems so wrong to have a hole in the roof of a structure, but there it is! Actually it adds a lot to the building, in my opinion. The structure today (and for a long part of its history) is used as a Catholic church, and that is reflected in the interior decorations, with an altar in the front and various statues in the alcoves on the sides. The interior has been preserved impressively well, and the engineering that created such an amazing space so long ago is inspiring.
In 6th grade we studied Roman daily life in Pompeii: the bars and restaurants, the court room, the temples, the homes. In 7th grade we learned about the horror the citizens of Pompeii faced during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in August of 79 CE which resulted in the complete destruction of Pompeii. Walking around the streets of Pompeii, we were able to visualize both. Not only were we able to see the ruins left from the eruption, but we were able to almost experience what the Romans’ lives were like. Just looking at the roads, the viae, we were able to relate our studies of Roman construction of streets and their drainage systems. We even saw the remains of the old aqueducts, a system the Romans invented. We were able to relate our knowledge of the Romans’ jobs and hobbies to what we saw in front of us in a way that we cannot in the classroom. In spite of the colossal contemporary statues blocking our view, I don’t think there is a better way to understand and experience the lives of the Romans than walking the streets of Pompeii, so tragically preserved for us to see today.
Naples National Archaeological Museum (Magis)
After climbing Vesuvius in the morning and eating fabulous pizza on the Via dei Tribunali (for only 3 or 4 Euros!), we headed to the National Archeological Museum in Naples.
First we looked at some of the marble statues from the Farnese collection, notably a large statue of a weary Hercules with the golden apples in his hand, the oldest known representation of a kneeling Atlas with the world on his shoulders, the story of Dirce and the Bull (the largest known marble from antiquity), and the two free-standing statues of the lovers Harmodius and Aristogeiton who killed the tyrant Hipparchus in 514 BCE, thus opening the way for Athenian democracy. We also looked at some bronzes from the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum including a seated Mercury, a drunken satyr, a bust of the actor Thespis, and two young runners.
Then we headed to the Secret Chamber to view various erotica from Pompeii and Herculaneum including statues, frescoes, and inscriptions. Ask Tatum about the number 157.
We tried to see the wall paintings, but a huge group of French students arrived just before us, so we decided to return later. We never did because jet lag and museum burnout hit us first.
For me, the most exciting part of the museum were the mosaics. The largest is the Alexander mosaic from the House of the Faun in Pompeii, but I loved the famous street musicians, the actors backstage, the cave canem, the Nile River animals, and the birdbath mosaics. These are all art pieces we see in our textbooks all the time, and it was wonderful to be able to look at them right in front of us.
After the museum, we grabbed a coffee and watched the crazy Neopolitans fighting each other in their cars and motor scooters through the streets of the city. It is amazing that there are not multiple accidents every night.
Fresh off the plane, many of us were tired and slept on the bus ride to Cumae. Throughout the time we all talked about wanting to sleep, take a shower, or eat; but, when we arrived at the entrance to the underworld all thoughts of rest disappeared. The giant hole in the mountain carved by ancient Romans was awe inspiring as we walked in. Eventually, once through the mountain, a long hallway appeared, and our words echoed throughout the cave. After reading a little bit of latin, we began to climb up the stairs to the top. The amazing view of the Bay of Naples caused all of us to pause and take it in, and it was almost a full 10 minutes before we continued to the top, where we read our first complete Latin passage of the trip. Then we began to go to the shrine to Apollo, but we had to abandon that plan since the site was closing. Overall the experience was inspiring and a great way to kick off the trip!
Thought you might want to know who are Paideia guides are and what hotels we are staying in in Italy.
- Paideia Guides
Meredith Francisco has a B.A. in Classics from the University of Iowa, where she wrote her thesis on witchcraft as featured in Horace’s early works. She organized a Latin summer camp at the Pentecrest Museums located on the Iowa campus with the help of Paideia’s Aequora program, and discovered a love of teaching. She is an alumna of the 2015 Living Latin in Rome program.
Mitchell Towne is an alumnus of Paideia’s Living Greek in Greece (2015 and 2016). He received his B.A. in Classics from Williams College with special interest in the influence of Classics on Renaissance art, Greek philosophy, and military history. After the fellowship, his dream is to become a high school teacher. He also enjoys swimming, water polo, and chess.
Can’t wait! It won’t be long now!
Paideia Trip Info: Menlo in Italy 2017
- Prescriptions. Remember to bring all prescriptions in their prescription bottles, and make sure you have enough for 12 days (just in case). PACK ALL PRESCRIPTION MEDS and other necessities in your CARRY-ON luggage.
- Bank and credit cards!
- Call your banks for each card and let them know that you’re traveling in Italy(Rome and the Bay of Naples) from Feb. 11-19.
- Write down all credit card/ATM card numbers, and the emergency numbersto call (from outside the U.S.) should you lose a card or have it stolen.
- Travel chargers. Important for your phone, your camera, your iPod, computer… whatever you bring. (Make sure they’re dual voltage.)
- Plug adaptors. Italian electrical outlets are shaped differently.
- Cell phones. Check with your carrier to make sure you have a phone that will workinternationally and an international plan that will work in Italy, and what the costsare.
- Frequent flier number: We’re flying on Delta which has lots of partner airlines.
- A small, secure purse for carrying your credit cards, ATM cards, and cash:something you can wear close to your body, and underneath a jacket or sweater.
- Journal. This is a Knight School trip so a journal is required, I think you will be gladyou have it for notes, sketches, thoughts. I love looking back at mine. We will check that you journal each day, though we will not read the content. I will send a picture and note to your parents each night so they know what we are doing.
- OUR CELL PHONE NUMBERS FOR THE TRIP (We will all get a card with Paideia phone numbers a little closer to the departure time):
Dobbie Vasquez: 650-888-2489
Tony Lapolla: 650-799-4994
Albert Vasquez: 650-799-4997
- SATURDAY MORNING, February 11: Meet at 6:30 AM, in front of the DELTA AIRLINES counter in TERMINAL 3 of SFO. Sorry for the hour.
- Don’t forget your PASSPORT!! and please bring me a copy of your passport photo page if you have not done so already.
- Money: I recommend that you get some Euros from your bank before you leave the states. There are ATM machines most places in Italy, but it is good to start with some money in your pocket.
- What to pack: I have never been to Italy in February, so this is my best guess.
General tips: Think wrinkle-free, pieces that you can wear for two days (mix/match) and that you can layer. It’s winter, and it can be chilly!!! (The temperature ranges from 40-57 degrees). Bring a jacket with a hood or an umbrella.
Baggage via Delta: You are allowed one checked bag and one carry-on (must fit in the overhead compartments and be light enough for you lift over your head), and one laptop bag/purse.
- Here are our flights to and from Italy. Anyone getting off in NYC on the way home must let me know. Please send an email to email@example.com and I will send you the proper release form.
- Departing (leave February 11th, arrive February 12th):
- DL 2348, SFO 08:55 → ATL 16:35
- DL 064, ATL 18:22 → FCO 09:45
- Returning (February 19th):
- DL 445, FCO 12:30 → JFK 16:30
- DL 490, JFK 19:25 → SFO 23:13