"The Italy trip was absolutely amazing; it brought the best parts of traveling while maintaining a sense of comfort by traveling with my fellow classmates," remarked Audrey Chin, a member of the Class of 2020 and Latin Club's Coordinator.
In June 2019, fifteen Plymouth Whitemarsh High School (PWHS) students traveled on the Latin Club's first ever trip to Italy. The group included thirteen students from the PWHS Class of 2020, and two from the Class of 2021. Among them were two Spanish students, five AP Latin students and three students enrolling in AP Latin in the upcoming school year. The students traveled with club sponsor William Blubaugh and Springfield High Latin teacher Peter Fullen. They were also joined by tour guides from the company Travel for Teens, Sarah Weber and George Elsbury. The group traveled to Venice, Florence and Rome with day trips to Vatican City and Pompeii. Their goal was simple: soak up as much of the Italian culture as they could in ten days.
"Venice was an absolute dream, the cool air, sunset walks, gondola rides. It's truly a magical city and my favorite spot from the trip. One second you are walking through winding old cobblestone streets, and then you emerge from an alley looking down at the beautiful Mediterranean," says Aryaa Moudgal, a PWHS senior and Vice President of Latin Club.
Upon arriving in Venice, the club got to experience life in the city during a full-day walking tour, as well as the historical and cultural sides of the city with visits to the glass-making island of Murano, the Doge's palace and the Peggy Guggenheim collection. All travel was done via Vaporetto (a Venetian public waterbus), giving the group firsthand experiences of what commute is like in the canal-filled city.
The next stop was Florence, but on the way, the group stopped at a vineyard for a private balsamic vinaigrette tasting and a delicious lunch.
In Florence, the group learned more about the cultural and artistic side of Italy. Their first morning, the students climbed up 451 steps to the top of the Duomo, a church in the center of the city. Along with their tour guides, they were joined by an archeologist from Florence who led them through the impressive Uffizi Gallery and L'Accademia museum, where Michealangelo's David is held. On their final night in Florence, the students walked the length of the city to witness a true Tuscan sunset from the top of the Piazza Michelangelo, a stunning end to a packed two days in Florence.
The students spent the final leg of the trip in Rome, starting with a walking tour of the city to the famed Colosseum. There, the Latin students were able to connect their cultural knowledge from their class to the experience of actually being there. Across from the Colosseum, the students ventured into the Roman Forum, where they pointed out many of the buildings and their purposes from their studies. The next day the students left for Pompeii.
"One of my favorite experiences on the trip to Italy was going to Pompeii. Learning about all of the ancient Roman history that happened almost 2,000 years ago was so enlightening, and it was awesome to see in person the things we'd read about in Latin class," says Zane Riechley, a current PWHS senior.
The club spent one day wandering the ruins of Pompeii, a city that was heavily referenced in the Latin curriculum. In the middle school Latin courses, students translate stories written based on a family living in Pompeii, and upon entering the city, they were able to see the actual house in which the family lived.
One of the days the group spent primarily in Vatican City, where the club started their morning by visiting the church and climbing the 550 steps to the top of St. Peter's Basilica for a morning view of the Eternal City. After their walk down, the club ventured to the Vatican Museums where they were able to see the renowned Sistine Chapel.
On the last days of the trip, the group, now tired and full of pizza, walked about the city seeing the last of the Roman sites, including the Victor Emmanuel III Monument, the Campo di Fiori, the Trevi Fountain, as well as a visit to the banks of the river Tiber, where a local market was taking place.
The group finally spent their last night at the famous L'Archeologia restaurant, enjoying a five-course meal in their nicest attire, as they reminisced about the last ten days. Throughout the trip, the students had stated that the shared experience of seeing beautiful sites and enjoying endless days brought the group closer together, and by the end of the trip, a sense of family and warmth was felt by all.
"I feel like the Italy trip meant so much to me because it was a culmination of my years in Latin," says Megan Flanagan, a current PWHS senior, and secretary of Latin Club. "Not just going to see the cities we learned so much about for five years, but really sharing the experience with all the people I took the class with. After finishing AP with my best friends, I couldn't have asked for a better way to say goodbye to Latin classes at PW."