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Latin Students go to Rome

During the first week of March break, the classics department offered a trip to Rome and surrounding areas for all Upper School boys taking Latin or Greek. The trip was headed by Dr. Davis, along with chaperones Mr. Cofield, Mr. Bracken, Ms.  Wallace and Mr. O’Connell. In past years only about 15 students had been allowed on the trip, but since the pandemic and travel restrictions had ruined any plans over the past few years, Dr. Davis thought it was best to allow everyone who signed up. In total, there were 32 students on this year’s international excursion. 

Over the course of the trip, the students saw a myriad of impressive sights ranging from religious monuments to historical artifacts. As Rome is the center of the Catholic Church’s authority, churches, cathedrals, and basilicas dot the streets and avenues. Students visited renaissance church’s rich with baroque art with one, the Basilica of San Clemente, featuring a pagan shrine underground, before the time of Christianity. Among other popular sights were the Vatican, and its Laocoon display, a sculpture of a figure prominent in the Aeneid, which all AP Latin students read, as well as Pompeii, the ancient city engulfed by pyroclastic flows from Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. Students could see grafitti and ancient engravings, which are not prominent anywhere else in the world.

Another highlight of the trip was the ability to experience lots of new and different foods. While pizza and pasta are common dishes in the United States, the native culture of Italy offered richer sauces, tastier cheeses and softer bread. New and interesting pasta styles, such as potato-based gnocchi or bird’s nest shaped cappellini. Another highlight was the gelato, and Aaron Stanger ‘24 commented that “no american ice cream will ever top the gelato in Rome (we made sure to stop at least twice a day).” During the surprise trip to the fortress city of Orvieto, a few boys tried pigeon, which was a specialty there due to the town’s ancient pigeon farming caves. 

Although Rome is Italy’s largest city and thus very urban, students were able to find quiet moments and places throughout the city. At breakfast, there was a breathtaking rooftop view of Rome, stretching over the Tiber, Fortress of the Popes, the Vatican, and the Villa Borghese. Given the high athletic goals of Belmont Hill teams, a dozen students woke up early every day to run in the Villa Borghese, a park dotted with museums, walking trails, sculptures and fountains. Some students also went birdwatching.

Overall, the trip was truly a wonderful experience for both the teachers and the students. James Mullowney sums up the trip gratefully “It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. At Belmont Hill, we read and learn about Ancient Roman history, but in Rome, you really see it and the experience is beyond any pictures in the Jenney Book.” Thank you to Dr. Davis, the chaperones and the parents for enabling trips like this to happen and we look forward to what will come in the future!

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