A busy May for VICTA continued with the second international trip of the year, this time to the beautiful country of Italy and its capital, Rome. A full itinerary exploring the fascinating history as well as the culinary specialties of the region awaited us when we landed late Friday evening. We were greeted by Damiano and Laura from Seable who took us to our accommodation for the next few nights.
After refueling at breakfast on Saturday morning, the exploration began with a morning trip to Lago Albano where the Pope has his summer residence overlooking the lake. As it was a pleasant morning, some of the group went out on the pedalos while the rest stopped for coffee and gelato.
We were then taken to a farm in the hills overlooking another lake, or lago, where we were treated to a traditional Italian style lunch. Delicious pasta, barbecued meat and farm-grown salad and vegetables were washed down with local wine as the group continued to bond and enjoy the surroundings. After enjoying a delicious meal, we then had the opportunity to feed and stroke the goats and sheep, and even sit on the donkey, or asino.
Eventually, we returned to the hotel and had dinner in a local restaurant where some of the confident among us ordered their meal in Italian.
On the Sunday, there was only one must-see destination that we had in mind – the Vatican! The day was packed with a lovely walk through St Peter’s Basilica where we enjoyed the sensory experience of feeling the incredibly detailed and intricate walls and statues. We also watched and listened to the Pope at midday administer the Angelus.
Crowds and groups from all over the world were there to witness the Pope make his weekly 15-20 minute blessings and the atmosphere was amazing, with some groups bursting into songs, chanting and dancing. In the evening, we celebrated Gemma and Will’s birthdays – what a way to celebrate!
We were back at the Vatican on Monday, exploring the Vatican museum with a guide who detailed the history of various exhibitions and gave us all the opportunity to feel the many statues. We were then taken into the Sistine Chapel and were fortunate enough to be taken through a roped off section, to the area where a new Pope puts on his robes for the first time.
The afternoon included a walking tour of four famous sites in Rome; Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain and finally the Spanish Steps. After a momentous day of walking, we relaxed in the evening by taking part in a jazz concert.
After a couple of days of travelling via taxi, we took the bus on Tuesday into the city and began a food market tour. This gave everyone a chance to sample local produce as well as purchase souvenirs to bring back home. This also took us into the Jewish quarter of Rome, where Johannes’ attempt at Italian impressed a local Jewish baker so much that she offered him a free freshly baked cookie! We rounded off our foodie day with a typical Italian aperitivo dinner at a local restaurant.
On Wednesday, after hastily packing and getting ready for the evening’s return flight, we managed to fit in a trip to one last momentous site – the Colosseum. We were all in awe as we wandered round, taking photos and soaking up the historic atmosphere of this impressive monument.
Fully and truly exhausted after an action packed few days, everyone slept on the flight home before saying arrivederci!
Written by Luke Wakefield
Lead Activities Coordinator