This past weekend, I embarked on one of the most exciting and stimulating trips I’ve ever gone on in my life. The destination was the stunning Amalfi Coast along with Pompeii, an ancient city in Southern Italy. Pompeii is a city with a storied history that was completely buried in ash and rubble through the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the year 79 AD. I had heard so much about Pompeii in history classes and pop culture but it is something that is so special to see with your own eyes, especially if you are a history buff like me.
The trip took a lot of planning, but went about as smoothly as it could have gone. My brother had come out to visit me in Florence and we planned out this trip only a few days before we left. It was perfect timing to see some family because after more than two months away from home, it felt great to have a bit of a break in my typical routine.
To start out the trip, we took a high speed train down to Naples on Thursday night which took about two hours. I had never been to Southern Italy before so it was actually a bit surprising to see how much the culture changes in the different regions in Italy. Once in Naples we had to switch to a local train that runs along the coast south of Naples, bringing us to the beautiful town of Sorrento. Sorrento was a perfect springboard for achieving all we needed to in the local area.
My brother and I began our first day taking the same local train a few stops to Pompeii, and I can’t even begin to explain how it felt to walk through the city. It was essentially preserved better than almost any ancient city of the same age due to being buried under ash and rock; it was essentially frozen in time. There are even people frozen in ash from the eruption on display! (Pretty weird, I know). Just walking down the streets, there was a gained appreciation for the civilized way of living they had achieved so long ago that was not too different from the way we live our lives. They had streets for transportation on chariots, sidewalks, restaurants, bars, homes, and public bathhouses. Looking along the sides of the streets, you could see 2000 year old pipes that provided running water through the use of gravity in places throughout the city, an astounding achievement at the time that. We even saw the remarkable amphitheater and colosseum, which may not be as large as the Roman colosseum but it is older and just as impressive! At the end of the day we headed back to Sorrento for a nice meal and explored the city before heading off to bed.
The next day was astonishing in it’s own right. The Amalfi coast is known as one of the more beautiful coastlines in the world with their hundreds of buildings hanging right on the cliffs as well as a terrifying skinny road the wraps along it for miles and miles. My brother and I bought tickets for a day pass on the bus that allowed us to get off at any of the Amalfi coast towns and get picked up by the next bus throughout the day. This was so astonishing as we saw some incredible sights, had beautiful weather, ate good food, and almost cried in fear when cruising over the cliffside.
The weekend truly flew by and it is something I will never forget. The fact that I could do all of this relatively cheaply in a weekend was one of the coolest parts about it! Studying in Florence allows for these once in a lifetime opportunities every single week. I’m thankful to be here and doing everything I can to maximize my time here!