Sorrento, Italy

The Geography departments of BHS and BGS recently returned from a very successful trip to Sorrento in Italy.  The trip was organised by Mrs Breen, the Head of Geography at the High School.  46 students and 5 staff departed from BHS late on Tuesday Feb 27th and travelled to Gatwick Airport, where we were met by our Tour Rep for the trip, Tracey.  We arrived at Naples airport and were delighted to find that it was much warmer than home!

Vesuvius

We made our way to Solfatara, a shallow volcanic crater on the outskirts of Naples.  We had a guided tour of the crater floor and saw many hot mud pools and fumeroles (an opening in the earth’s crust).  These fumeroles emitted sulphur gases hence the rather strong smell of rotten eggs! We then made for our hotel overlooking the Bay of Naples and in the distance Mount Vesuvius, the only active volcano on mainland Europe.  The following morning we travelled to Vesuvius and walked to the summit and around the edge of the crater.  Again we had guide, Roberto, who gave us a very interesting geography lesson about Vesuvius.

Pompeii

In the afternoon we went to Pompeii, destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79.  Pompeii is one of the world’s most famous and impressive archaeological sites.  We were very lucky to get a wonderful guided tour from our guide for the afternoon, Gianno.  His stories and anecdotes of life in Pompeii enthralled us all.On Friday morning we made our way to the main harbour in Sorrento, met by Gianno who was our guide for the day, and took the Hydrofoil (ferry) to the popular tourist island of Capri.  We experienced the delights of the local transport system, ie small buses that took us on the narrow winding road to the town of Anicapri.

Amalfi Coast

We then took the chairlift to top of the island and despite the overcast weather, had spectacular views of the island, Vesuvius and the Amalfi coast.  We returned to the main town, Capri and Gianno took us on a guided walk. On Saturday morning we visited a typical farm of the region and were given a guided tour.  We were then shown how to make various cheeses, including mozzarella (one of the main toppings on a pizza), followed by lunch at the farm.  We had a typically Italian antipasti starter (very tasty), before everyone made their own pizza, helped by the farm chef.  Most of us took the opportunity to buy olive oils, marmalades and liqueurs (adults only), produced on the farm.  The afternoon was spent driving along the Amalfi coast, which must be one of the world’s most spectacular coastal drives (Could be a Top Gear special!).  We had a short guided tour of the Cathedral in Amalfi, before some free time for shopping/chilling.

On our final Day we headed for Herculaneum, a wealthy Roman town famous for having been lost along with Pompeii in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.  It is also famous as one of the few ancient cities that can now be seen in almost its original splendour, because unlike Pompeii, its burial was so deep as to ensure the buildings’ upper storeys remained intact. Originally, we were to have an unguided visit, but having enjoyed Giannos’ guided tours earlier in the trip, we decided to see if he was available again.  Luckily for us all, he was available and gave us yet another brilliant tour.  Again, everyone was delighted.  We learnt much about life in Herculaneum and saw great examples of Roman earthquake proof building design, saunas, gyms, shops, and under-floor central heating.  As we discovered, many features of our homes and buildings are not new.  The Romans had them 2 thousand years ago!

Our final destination was to Naples city centre.  We were met by our guide Alex who took us on a tour of the Catacombs underneath the city.  The Catacombs included a Roman Theatre and the extensive water supply system built by the Romans and used by locals as an air raid shelter in World War Two.

From the city centre we made the short journey to the airport and eventually returned, exhausted, to Beverley at 2.00 am on Monday March 4th.

Each evening, we reflected on the places we visited and completed the workbook provided.  As a result, the students have some brilliant case study information about volcanoes/tectonics and tourism to help them in their future exams.

As always, the students were a credit to the two schools.  This was a fantastic trip, thoroughly enjoyed by both students and staff.  Our experiences of Italian geography, history and culture will be long remembered.

C Elvidge

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