Our first full day in Berlin was spent exploring the city in small groups. We visited many sights where we were able to explore Germany’s history. While Copenhagen felt like a place where we embraced its present culture, Berlin was a city where we immersed ourselves in its past. “It felt like a haunted city” and “A place where the cobblestones looked to be crying due to the melting snow”, as wisely stated by Ms. Mac and Dr. Jorgensen respectively. Although Berlin is a much bigger city than Copenhagen, it was still filled with quaint cafes and bakeries where we were able to have breakfast, and even a kebab kitchen where I enjoyed a delicious lunch. We ended the day watching a huge upset in the World Cup. It was great to able to wander the city and get a taste for all parts of German culture.
Our final day in Rome! We visited the Pantheon in the morning. “After the rainfall overnight, it was cool to see how it fell into the Pantheon,” said Connor Caba, Gr 12. While in the Pantheon, originally a temple later transformed into a Christian church, students saw the tomb of Raphael. After yesterday’s visit to the Vatican and seeing his works of art, the students found it to be a powerful experience.
Following the Pantheon, we all got COVID tested. We’re very happy to announce that we’re all negative! Before dinner, we made a stop at Santa Maria in Trastevere. “The columns are taken from the Baths of Caracalla. It shows the reuse of ancient Rome in Christianity,” said Dr. David Jacobson.
While at dinner, Sofia Tobiason, Gr. 10 volunteered to dance salsa with our waiter. “Besides the food, that was the best part of dinner,” said Sofia. She received a round of applause from the restaurant customers.
The students are all excited to head home first thing in the morning tomorrow.
Are eight hours enough in Vatican City? Definitely not. Today, students viewed numerous pieces of priceless arts and artifacts throughout the 70,000+ exhibits. While many students remarked on the indescribable awe of the Sistine Chapel, they were also grateful to climb to the top of the Coppola of St. Peter’s Basilica. “It was nice to climb to the top to see the whole perspective of the building, especially what it may have looked like many years ago,” said Connor Caba, Gr. 12. In total, visitors must climb 551 steps to reach the top of the dome. Each step becomes progressively narrower as one reaches the top.
Faculty and students including Jonathan Fields and Jacob Savage, Gr. 10 and Sydney Mountain, Gr. 11 attended mass spoken in Italian at St. Peter’s Basilica. It was powerful for each to engage in an aspect so close to our school community in the most holy of places. We saw the statue of St. Francis, who we pray to during each chapel, within the walls of the basilica along with many other Saints and past Popes. Guiseppe Scala, Gr. 10 discovered old graffiti dating back to 1671 etched into the marble of some I the statues. While we don’t encourage defacing works of art, it was amazing for each of us to see ordinary peoples who left their literal mark even before the United States of America fought for its revolution.
The highlight for many today, including Guiseppe Scala, Gr. 10, was the many sculptures we saw in the Villa Borghese. While it was collectively agreed that Bernini’s works are stunning, Guiseppe said that Pauline Bonaparte as Venus Victrix by Canova was his favorite piece saying that, “Just the bed alone is so detailed. I wanted to spend more time looking at it.” In addition to the numerous works on the walls and on podiums, visitors need to remember to look up at the gorgeous ceilings. “They’re breathtaking works of art,” said Sofia Tobiason, Gr. 10.
After lunch, we traveled to Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore (The Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major). Some students took the opportunity to pray while others enjoyed the beauty within. Next was the Palazzo Massimo which houses the National Museum of Rome. We viewed several pieces from antiquity and were in awe at the many Roman frescoes. On the way to dinner, we stopped at the Circus Maximus. There, students held another foot race. Nils Wallace, Gr. 10 was the victor! Finally, after a dinner of pizza the group enjoyed a desert of gelato on the way to the hotel.
The tour took us out of the city of Rome to visit the ancient ruins of Pompeii. This city was completely buried in ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. Before its destruction, Pompeii was viewed as a resort town of sorts, which many Romans visited. While there, the students discovered symbols of good luck to warn away evil spirits. This was one of Kailer Tom’s , Gr. 12 favorite moments of the day, “seeing the good luck all over Pompeii was really cool.” Clearly, these symbols of good luck didn’t save the city from ruin, but it brought good fortune to us for being able to see what life may have been like for ancient Pompeians.
While there, the students experienced another amphitheater, this one much smaller than the Roman Colosseum we visited yesterday. The tradition of a student foot race in the amphitheater continued, with Geoffrey Karsant, Gr. 10 victorious. This is one of the favorite moments for Mr. Roderick Mobley, Science Department Chair, of the entire trip.
Jonathan Fields, Gr. 10 summarized the group experience today by stating that “learning Latin is … useful!” regarding the numerous artifacts from antiquity that include this language. Together we visited the Capitoline Museum, which houses famous works such as the remaining pieces of the Colossus of Constantine, The Dying Gaul, the Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius, and the Capitoline Wolf. Bailey Parent, Gr. 11 presented today on the Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius including that this bronze statue had survived when others were melted down for reuse due to its misidentification as Constantine the Great, the “Christian Emperor.” In between the Capitoline Museum and the Campus Martius, students had the opportunity to eat lunch in the Jewish Ghetto, where Sophia Tobiason, Gr. 10 said that she had the “best pasta ever.” The group moved on to visit Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Mausoleum of Augustus, the Ara Pacis, and more.
This morning the group visited the Roman Forum and the Palantine Hill. The students worked to translate a piece from Ovid (The Fasti) where we discussed the origin story of Rome. After a delicious lunch near the Colosseum, we ventured into the famous amphitheater. There, students learned about the lives of gladiators — some even purchasing their own “armor” from the gift shop. We ended the day with dinner in the remains of the Theater of Pompey, where Julius Caesar was killed.
On Saturday, February 19, the group gathered at the International Terminal of San Francisco International Terminal to depart for Rome. The energy of the group was palpable. The layover in Frankfurt, Germany held a lot of group discussions and games being played. We landed in Rome to a lot of excitement for the trip ahead.