Last weekend, I took a train trip to Sorrento with eleven other students from my program. We arrived in the city on Friday night around midnight, after two exhausting train rides, and went to bed soon after locating our hostel. The next morning we got up bright and early in order to catch the ferry to Capri before too many other tourists would inevitably inundate the island.
Once we arrived in Capri, our group split. The majority of the group wished to go on a tour of the island by boat and to visit the famous Blue Grotto. I, put off by the 25 Euro expense, decided to make my way up the island with one other person from my program to the other destination of the day, the Palace of Emperor Tiberius, the second emperor of Rome. Instead of taking the tram most of the way up the island, he and I hiked it. This turned out to be a good decision. Since most tourists don’t have the stamina nor the interest to see the the ordinary neighborhoods of Capri, they pay an expensive fee to take a tram or even a bus to the main commercial area of the island, which is high up on the steep island.
Without breaking a sweat, he and I found ourselves at the top within thirty minutes. Hoping to further avoid the crowds, we left the commercial center and began the second leg of our journey toward the palace. After a second hike of the same rigor, we arrived at Tiberius’s palace. We payed 2 Euro, a fair price, and explored the incredibly well-preserved structures. We also were able to see some incredible views of the island’s many cliff faces and nearby islands.
After we were satisfied with our visit, we made our way back to the commercial center, found a quiet pizzeria, and enjoyed a well-earned lunch. We then returned to the dock to wait for our companions. I enjoyed the warm water at the beach while we waited. Once everyone was gathered together, we took the ferry back to Sorrento, returned to our hostel, and slept. Our return journey to Rome was pleasantly uneventful.
On Tuesday, as a part of our program, the students enjoyed a rare opportunity–exploration of Roman aqueducts. We climbed into two disused aqueducts, learned about aqueduct maintenance, encountered interesting insects, and enjoyed reading graffiti from various eras. Also, we visited a few hollowed out portions of the face of the cliff into which the aqueducts had been built. These had been turned into prayer centers for medieval monks and a few of them had religious paintings inside. It was quite an experience.
Last night I went to a professional football match between AS Roma and Inter Milan in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico. I went with fourteen other students from my program and we, in hopes of fitting in with the crowd, had all bought Roma jerseys or scarves. As a group of fifteen all sporting Roma’s maroon and orange, we received many compliments as we made our way to the stadium using two bus routes. At the stadium, we split into two groups and watched the match from different places. True to the tendency of Italian teams, we watched a very defensive game. We were a little disappointed when the match was minutes from ending with the score still 0 – 0. However, two minutes before the end of the game, a Roma player made an expert cross to his teammate who performed a diving header between two Inter defenders and drove the ball into the corner of the net. The Roma fans went crazy. If you’re aware of the stereotypes of European football fans, then you have a pretty good idea of how the fans reacted. We left the stadium during the downpour that began just after the game ended, after staying for some stadium-wide Roma chants. The fans were so excited that they were chanting even on the bus afterwards. It was quite an exciting night.