During Easter Break, Kensington Park School set out on its first-ever trip to the Bay of Naples! Over five memorable days, students and staff experienced the best of Italy’s ancient sites, alongside fabulous vistas, and wonderful food.
The trip was organised by our Teacher of Classics, Ms Cebon, who kindly shared with us her reflections from this memorable cultural excursion:
“Students arrived at school at 2:30 am, and despite their lack of sleep, were excited and ready to take our first coach of the trip to Gatwick Airport. Once through security, we took a big group photo, used some time to shop and get breakfast, and a short two hours later, we arrived in sunny Naples.
From the moment we touched down on the sunlit tarmac, we knew that we were in for a wonderful trip – even the food at Naples airport was delicious!
After a scenic journey to Sorrento, we settled in at the hotel, and then went into the town for some shopping and gelato. It was lovely just to unwind and see what the city had to offer, which, according to the students, was a lot of jewellery and a few imperatorial busts. Later, we had dinner at the hotel, ending with our own end-of-term prize-giving ceremony, before heading to our rooms for some much-needed rest.”
“We awoke to find to a delightful buffet breakfast, before setting out for our first full day of sightseeing. We decided to start the trip off easy… by climbing Mount Vesuvius!
Our coach took us around the beautiful hills and up to the midpoint of the mountain where we began our hike to the summit. Once we reached the top of the volcano, students were able to peer into the vast crater gaping below and look out at the stunning panoramic view of the sea.
We saw many towns for miles around and imagined the devastation that the 79 CE eruption would have caused. We took lots and lots of photos, listened to some dramatic Latin readings about the volcano, before heading back down, imitating pyroclastic flow as we went!
Later, we took a coach to Naples, where we found a pizzeria for lunch and visited the incredible Archaeological Museum. We saw everything from columns to coins, with my favourite being the statue room containing gods carved out of marble. Viewing these sculptures reminded us of what it must have felt like to be a Roman, marvelling at their form.”
“This was perhaps our biggest sightseeing day of all, and it was wonderful.
In the morning, we took the coach to the Villa Poppeia in Oplontis (now known as Torre Annunziata), once belonging to the second wife of Emperor Nero, which is among the most impressive surviving Roman villas in all of Italy.
Once we had finished petting the villa’s dog, we embarked on a guided tour, taking in the stunning frescoes and mosaics, still in situ, and learning about the purpose of each room within the estate. It was lovely to see some of the students staying behind with our guide after the tour was over to ask more questions.
Following the tour, we headed to Herculaneum, where we split into two groups for our personalised tours around the site. The students enjoyed seeing what would have been the perfect seaside resort for any well-to-do Roman, with those who have studied Year 9 Classical Civilisation recognising several thermopolia around the city.
Later, we visited the new Herculaneum Virtual Museum, viewing a 3-D film of Vesuvius’ eruption alongside other video reconstructions. These offered views of how the site would have looked before the eruption, once containing thriving communities home to thousands of people.
At dinner in the evening, an entire dining hall full of people joined in for our rendition of Happy Birthday as we celebrated a student’s birthday. We were also fortunate enough to receive some fantastic Torta Caprese, a traditional Italian cake, courtesy of the student’s mother.”
"Despite the weather forecast predicting rain for our trip to Pompeii, the gods looked favourably upon us and blessed us with sunshine.
While it would have been impossible to see the entire city in one day, we certainly saw the best of it thanks to another wonderful tour guide. Students learnt so much about the city, from where the Romans got their water; how they made their bread; to a history of the gods and their significance to the culture of the Roman empire.
We were extremely fortunate to be able to see the long-awaited House of the Vettii, which had been closed for the last 20 years for restoration. The students were fascinated by the complex frescoes lining every wall, and we even got to see a professional restorer working on the mosaic floors.
After a trip to the gift shop, it was time to head back to Sorrento. That night, we ate at the fantastic Seaside restaurant, O’Puledrone, enjoying some of the best seafood the Bay of Naples has to offer. Truth be told, this meal was one of the true highlights of my trip.
We had one last shopping trip in Sorrento to do before heading back to the hotel for our awards ceremony. All the students gathered together to receive prizes like “Best Birthday of the Trip”, “Most Likely to Become Emperor” and “Best Latin Performance”. It was a joyous evening, and a lot of fun too!”
Thanks to Ms Cebon and the rest of our staff, the trip was a resounding success, providing students with a shared cultural experience they will never forget. For the Classics students, it was an opportunity to access what they had previously only seen in their textbooks. For the others, it may perhaps inspire them to consider studying the subject at GCSE or A level.
Ms Cebon would like to express her sincere gratitude to the wonderful staff that helped to make the trip possible:
Ms Ahmed, Mr Bhinder, Ms Gammon, Mr Griffiths, Ms Hooton, Ms Kenyon, Ms Maione, Mr Tan, and to our headmaster Mr Mellor and head of Lower School Mrs Emerson for their continuous support.