Andiamo! (Let’s Go!)

By Madison B. ’17
Photos by Julia R. ’17

Emerging from the Naples airport into the fresh Mediterranean breeze, Lancaster and its foot of snow seemed far behind us. After all, 20 students and three LCDS teachers had crossed an ocean, mountain ranges and several other countries to reach this point, so we nodded and agreed: We had earned some fair weather.

Jackets shed, sunglasses donned, cameras on; we were ready.

We met our unforgettable tour guide, Stephania, and were off. She gave us nonstop facts and anecdotes about Italy through a tinny microphone as the bus rocked on its wheels around every corner, whizzing us through Naples toward Sorrento.


With the bus swaying to the tune of Stephania’s musical accent, Italy first seemed more like a dream than reality.

Everywhere we looked, the scene begged for its own postcard: the colorful little block houses with their laundry out on the line, the orchards polka-dotted with their famous lemons and oranges, the sea shore rocky and blue. And it was only the first day.

With Stephania in the lead, we navigated sheer cliffs on our way to Sorrento proper, where we made the first of many gelato breaks and learned Stephania’s favorite word: “Andiamo! We would say it a lot on the fast-paced journey that followed. It means, “Let’s go!”

The itinerary for our first full day in Italy called for “dramatic seaside views” of the Amalfi coast. We were not disappointed — despite having a special bus with a presumably licensed driver, we still flirted with the cliff edge from time to time, trying to catch a glimpse of the azure water and sheer terraces below.

In Amalfi, we sampled more gelato and some super-hot Italian chilies by the shore of the Mediterranean. Afterward, we visited Greek temples in Paestum and the accompanying museum with plenty of Grecian urns (which were certainly ode-worthy).

Mt. Vesuvius had loomed in our sight since reaching Sorrento, and we finally understood its awesome power in the ruins of Pompeii. The eerily immaculate preservation of buildings, frescoes and bodies told a colorful story about how people lived when the volcano erupted, entombing the city in ash and freezing time in 79 A.D.

Pompeii’s sprawling size made everything we learned startlingly big and lifelike. With the help of Mr. Bostock, the Latin students were even able to translate some of the Latin remnants scattered around.

We said arrivederci to the coast and headed for Rome and the Vatican. The Vatican Museums’ collection is impossibly large and rich, so we focused on the classics: Raphael’s frescoes in the Vatican apartments, Michelangelo’s legendary Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica with Bernini’s great colonnade.

To merely stand in the presence of these great masters’ works was an honor and a moving experience. Photography isn’t allowed in the Sistine Chapel, but it’s hard to imagine anyone ever forgetting the masterpieces we saw there.

The day ended with some good old exercise at gladiator camp, where we practiced swordplay, javelin throwing and archery, culminating with a battle between everyone and the net-throwing retiarius — played by your correspondent!

We saw another archaeological wonder in the ancient port of Ostia, once bustling with Roman trade. We had no time to spare — andiamo! between visiting the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain, the latter under repair and covered with scaffolding. Hopefully the coins we tossed into the substitute basin will still guarantee our return.

We ended the day where Julius Caesar ended his last. The wine cellar at the restaurant where we ate dinner is thought to be where Caesar had a rough day on the Ides of March.

Certified gladiators that we were, our final day saw us at the Coliseum, marveling at the arena where thousands died for the entertainment of commoners and emperors alike. From there, we wound a historical path through once-lavish palaces and temples in ruins.

As the sun set on the cobblestone streets of Tivoli, our little group — which had become quite close-knit — reminisced about the trip that would be over much too soon. We passed a ball of string back and forth, naming our favorite parts, laughing and shaking our heads. Then, we cut the string, so each of us got a souvenir better than any gift-shop postcard: a simple string bracelet, and memories to last a lifetime.

Bella ciao, Italia!

Of course, the trip would not have been possible without Mr. Bostock, Mrs. Oravec and Mr. Shepherd. We would all like to thank them for taking us on such an incredible journey (and we would also like to apologize for petting the stray animals). We’re also grateful to Stephania and World Strides, LCDS, the parents, and everyone else who made this experience as memorable as it was.