What happens when you take 120+ exchange students from around the world and bring them to Naples for four days? Crazy, wonderful things.
The rotary clubs of Italy started hosting a countrywide orientation weekend a couple years ago for all the exchange students in Italy and this year, I was lucky enough that they decided to host us in the wonderful city of Naples.
In Naples, we stayed at a hotel that had a view of it all- the mountains, the sea, the whole city of Napoli, and Mount Vesuvius. It was breathtaking during the day, but was especially jaw dropping at sunset.
Although we were only in Naples for 4 days, and two of those days consisted of being on a bus for more or less 12 hours, we had a jam packed itinerary. It’s amazing how many things I checked off my bucket list in less then 96 hours! Here are the highlights:
Walk through Naples: Our first full day in the south consisted of walking through the streets of Naples right by the ocean, eating pizza and gelato and pastries, visiting churches and a castle, and taking too many pictures to even count. I really enjoyed the 4+ hours we spent touring by foot, but next time I come to Naples, I’m definitely heading past the touristy part were spent the day in. Although the touristy port area was beautiful, there is definitely way more to this city than we were able to witness! And next time I come to the south, I am for sure finding myself a nice spot on a beach somewhere.
Pompeii: Ever since I did a project about Pompeii back in grade 5 at Castex, for this crazy teacher called Mr. D, I have been wanting to see first hand this ancient city. The story alone is fascist inning, so you can imagine how excited I was so be able to walk through the streets and thermal baths (and brothels?!) of the Roman ruins. The guided tour we had was amazing- I normally like to do my own thing at museums and places like this but there was so much more information that you would have missed out on by walking solo. Pompeii lived up to my vision; ancient frescoes, crumbling pillars and stadiums, beautiful tile work, and of course, the frozen-in-time plaster casts of the citizens of Pompeii. The only thing that took away from the whole experience was the modern scaffolding and hordes of tourists (us exchange students included). But that’s what happens when you want to preserve incredible places like Pompeii to share with the world!
Meeting exchange students from around the world: With over 120 kids from almost every country on Earth, it was impossible to be bored. There was always someone new to say hi to, a new phrase in Finnish or Portuguese or Spanish to learn, and someone to watch dancing or singing or goofing off. I’ll admit that I was thankful to come home after 4 days to a quiet house, but I wouldn’t have wanted this weekend to change in any way. Life with exchange students is never anything less than extreme!
Palace of Ceserta: This. Place. Was. Overthetop. I’ll admit that I don’t remember a single fact the guide told us, as it was the last day of our trip and we were all running on about 3-4 hours of sleep, but I do know that I was in awe the entire time. I’ll let Wikipedia tell you why, and then let the pictures of just 2-3 of the 1200 rooms do the rest, “constructed for the Bourbon kings of Naples. It was the largest palace and one of the largest buildings erected in Europe during the 18th century. In 1997, the palace was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In terms of volume, the Royal Palace of Caserta is the largest royal residence in the world with over 2 million m³ and covering an area of about 47,000 m²”. What a place to call home sweet home.
Other events in between the madness: A concert by a local young Italian band, a small performance of a classic dance of Naples, cake everyday for breakfast and 4-course lunches and dinners, and a couple hours of meetings every day.
Napoli, I know we are only acquaintances, but can I come visit you again soon? I would really like to get to know you better. Also, send me the recipe for real Pizza alla Neapoletana. Or better yet, send me a pizza…