Year 11 Naples Trip
GCSE Geography trip to the Bay of Naples
On Thursday 16 February 2023, 37 geographers from Cirencester Deer Park School joined Miss Bluett, Miss Crouch, Mr Lawless and Mrs Stubbs on an Italian adventure. For our Year 11 GCSE Geography pupils it was an opportunity to find out more about some of the geographical processes we have studied in class and topics which we will be exploring in our final module. Italy has a unique range of landscapes including urban centres, volcanoes, a dramatic coastline and beautiful islands.
Day One: An Introduction to Italy
Following an early start in Cirencester, we travelled to Gatwick Airport and, after a quick check-in, were soon boarding our flight. Many pupils and staff enjoyed the opportunity to catch up on some sleep before we landed at Naples-Capodichino International Airport.
We made our way to Piazza San Gaetano, where we met our guide for a walking tour of the city. Pupils were surprised by how busy the narrow streets were and there were many shouts of ‘Bike!’ as mopeds appeared around each corner. We stopped for lunch and, with Naples being the birthplace of the classic Margherita pizza, most pupils enjoyed sampling this local favourite. After a little more sightseeing above ground, we made our way underground on a tour of a vast labyrinth of underground tunnels and chambers, dating back to 2,500 years ago. Our guide was very knowledgeable and showed us Roman theatres and markets, ancient aqueducts and even WWII air-raid shelters.
After the tour, we made our way to our accommodation, Hotel Albatros, where pupils were glad to have an opportunity to rest, ready for another early start the next day.
Day Two: Vesuvius and Pompeii
Following a good night’s sleep, we started our day at 7am with breakfast before travelling to the infamous Mount Vesuvius – the only active volcano on mainland Europe. Paulo, our guide, was very knowledgeable about the volcano and its previous eruptions, including the impacts these had on the local environment and population. As the bus slowly wound around the flanks of Vesuvius, we all got a sense of the scale of this composite volcano and were reminded of the effects of altitude on temperature as we started to see snow on the upper reaches of the slopes. The bus dropped us off at the hiking trail and we continued on foot to the summit of the volcano. Special mention must go to Axel for completing the steep ascent on crutches!
After a well-deserved breather at the top, we were met by an alpine guide who explained the volcano’s geography and relationship with the surrounding area. Pupils could see steam being released from the crater through its fumaroles and also solidified lava, pumice and tuff around the crater's edge and along the paths. Vesuvius is best known for the AD79 eruption when ash and pyroclastic flows destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Our guide pointed out the direction of these two locations and explained how long it would take for lava and pyroclastic flows to reach each. Vesuvius is closely monitored by volcanologists but poses a great potential danger to the modern cities that surround it, especially the busy metropolis of Naples. Pupils reflected on the narrow streets from the walking tour the previous day and how difficult it would be to evacuate 3 million people when the next eruption occurs.
After purchasing some souvenirs (and many tubes of Pringles) from the crater, we descended and met the bus again to continue on to Pompeii. The sun was shining brightly after a morning mist and we enjoyed a lunch break in the sunshine, with pupils enjoying more pizza, fried pizza and gelato. We collected our audio headsets and began a guided tour of Pompeii. Our guides showed us the ruins of the forum, temples, villas, the gladiatorial arena, theatre and bathhouses, and explained what life was like in ancient Roman times and the impacts of the AD79 eruption which destroyed the town.
Heading back to the hotel after our tour, some pupils took the opportunity to visit local shops opposite our hotel to buy fruit and souvenirs, before resting ahead of dinner. Afterwards, some joined in with staff for a few rounds of the game ‘Heads Up’ with some very humorous charade actions!
Day Three: Capri
Saturday morning meant a short lie-in before we left the hotel at 8.45am. We headed to the port in Sorrento where we collected our tickets and started our journey to the island of Capri.
Known for its rugged rocks, caverns and coves, Capri’s limestone geology provides a stunning coastal landscape to demonstrate the erosive power of the sea. The island attracts VIP holidaymakers with its wealth of luxury boutiques and designer shopping, although it was a little early in the season to see any on our visit. We took a minibus ride up the mountain to Anacapri and explored the streets, stopping off for a spot of souvenir shopping on the way. Unfortunately the Monte Solaro chairlift was shut due to recent bad weather, so we were unable to take in the views from the very top of the island, but our tour guide Augusto showed us many other sights, including David Beckham’s favourite hotel to stay at on the island!
As we made our way back down to Capri, we explored more of the island, including the famous viewpoints, and then had some free time for lunch - with pizza-making on the menu for the evening, this time pupils chose sandwiches, arancini (and more Pringles!) to sample - before our boat journey back to Sorrento, which took around 30 minutes.
Shortly after arriving back at the hotel, we made our way to Restaurant Il Tirabuscio where pupils were offered a hands-on experience and were assisted by an expert ‘Pizzaiolo’ to prepare their own pizza dough using local ingredients. Afterwards, pupils were treated to a delicious pizza of their choice – although the restaurant owners were very clear that pineapple on pizzas was not an option. After a busy day and later evening, pupils were given a little time to start to pack before our final day on Sunday.
Day Four: Sorrento and Herculaneum
On Sunday, we checked out of our hotel at 9.30am and made our way into Sorrento where pupils were taken on a short orientation walk. Miss Bluett took the group to Piazza Tasso and Villa Communale with the views out over the Bay of Naples and showed the group the Chiesa di San Francesco – one of Sorrento’s most beautiful churches. Pupils then had some free time, with many choosing to enjoy crêpes and a spot of brunch, whilst others went down to the beach or enjoyed some last-minute souvenir shopping. Meeting our coach mid-morning, we journeyed to our last stop before heading home – Herculaneum.
Herculaneum was heavily impacted by the same eruption that destroyed Pompeii but, in contrast to the commerce and trade environment of Pompeii, Herculaneum was a wealthy Roman town with many fine residential villas. Here we were able to see many more mosaics and a number of artefacts including statues and jewellery which had been buried and preserved by pyroclastic and hot mud flows in AD79.
After our visit, we said goodbye to Paulo and the coach took us to the airport. With a swift check-in, pupils had time for one last Italian meal (clearing out one café of all their Margherita pizzas) before our flight. Arriving back at school just after midnight, pupils were all rather tired but had enjoyed 4 action-packed days.
'I lost count of the amazing views, fascinating facts and the amount of delicious pizza that I consumed! And it turns out Mr Lawless can sing! I can now say that I have scaled Vesuvius!' Jack H (Year 11)
The Italy trip was the perfect example that Geography is everywhere and we all returned home having experienced a whole range of spectacular geographical features! It was a pleasure and privilege to travel with the 37 pupils and three other members of staff and I hope that the experiences they had on this trip will give them a deeper understanding of the processes we study in class, as well as wonderful memories for years to come. All of our guides commented on the politeness and positivity of the group. They were a credit to us, themselves and Cirencester Deer Park School.
Miss Bluett, Geography Teacher