School Without Walls Fall Trip to Rome

Posted on: December 9th, 2013 by Admin

School Without Walls Fall Trip to Rome
By Brett Isaacs
SWW Class of 2015

Over Thanksgiving break, Mr. Ackerman and Ms. Brinley took ten Walls students to the eternal city—Rome.

Once in Italy, our group headed to the ancient port city Ostia, outside of Rome on the Tiber River.  The site is still in stages of recovery by archeologists but it has amazing buildings such as a theater, a magnificent garrison, and an outdoor gathering place. After Ostia, we traveled to Rome and dropped off our things at our hotel which was located near the Vatican.  After dinner, we took an evening walk to the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and the Tiber River. The most amazing thing that we discovered about Rome was how its history overlaps and is intertwined.  This was evident when we walked across a bridge designed by Michelangelo only to see a tower created by the emperor Hadrian on the other side.

The next day our group went under the foundations of St Peter’s Basilica to an uncovered Roman graveyard that wove beneath it. The necropolis, or city of the dead, was a place for Roman burials, including many Roman Christian graves. The artwork and workmanship inside the tombs was astounding, and during our tour, we managed to see the part of the grave where most believe St. Peter to be buried. Afterwards, we went into magnificent St Peter’s Basilica where we viewed this massive Renaissance building and translated Latin around the dome. That night we went back to the Pantheon and walked around the city.

On day three our group visited San Clemente Church where we saw layers of Roman and medieval history lying underneath it. We walked to nearby Trajan’s column and part of the old Forum for a tour of a 4th century wealthy Roman’s house that was told through digital recreation.  The tour told about the history of the empire and Roman life. Next we walked to the Capitoline Museum for a hot chocolate break and then to the great church of Santa Maria Maggiore. Mr. Ackerman worked his magic and secured a tour on the upper levels of the church where we had a great view and saw clothing worn by past popes and a book dating back to the first century.

The next day, clear weather and a break from rain enabled us to bike along the Via Appia, an ancient road outside of Rome. This was a memorable trip since we saw a Roman tomb belonging to the daughter-in-law of Marcus Crassus.  Our group also biked past ancient watchtowers and aqueducts.  Later that night we took a trip to the Spanish Steps and a return visit to the Trevi Fountain where we tossed coins in the water since legend has it that this act will ensure a return to Rome.

Sunny weather was the perfect backdrop for our long awaited tour of the Colosseum.  The building was massive and everyone learned a lot about the gladiator barracks and the events that took place there. A scavenger hunt in the Roman Forum followed which had our group closely looking for ancient temples and arches. We ended the night with a tram ride back to the hotel and high hopes for the next day.

This day began with an unexpected sighting of the one and only Pope Francis in the Vatican. He was performing a ceremony to celebrate the approach of advent in the Vatican square. After this, our group trooped to another church to explore the underground crypt and afterwards to the Baths of Diocletian which houses a church designed by Michelangelo. The day’s he highlight turned out to be climbing to the top of St Peter’s Basilica where we took in the monumental dome but also amazing views of Rome as far as the eye could see.

The next day our group crossed the bridge Constantine en route to an old arch in the Italian countryside where we explored a small museum. We  visited an olive farm where we picked olives and learned about how the organic oil is made. We had a great noontime meal in lieu of an American Thanksgiving dinner.  As if this wasn’t enough, we stopped in an old medieval village on the way back to Rome. Our last day in Rome we visited the catacombs of Priscilla and the Borghese Gallery where we viewed great works of art.

Our trip which was incredible, memorable, and fun.  Ms. Brinley and Mr. Ackerman’s passion for all things Rome rubbed off on our group and had us looking at sites in a deep and meaningful way.  Our coins in the Trevi Fountain will serve us well as we all wish to make our way back to this ancient city one day.


day 1 (4)SWW in Rome