On our arrival in Naples Airport, we collected our bags and boarded the coach marked “Gruppo Shrewsburg” - hopefully not a German school - and embarked on a three-hour coach journey to Sorrento. When we arrived at the hotel, the local six star, we gratefully dumped our bags in the rooms and partook of some nourishing supper, including that delicious Italian dessert, the apple. Thankfully, though, Mr Percival had arranged for us to ‘hit the town’ and visit a gelateria (ice cream shop). Eventually our Holy Grail was found and we all bought large quantities of gelato. I personally had a three-scooper: rum & chocolate, Fererro Rocher and hazelnut. Then bed and sleep called, and so ended the first day.
The second day was a real treat as the group visited Pompeii. I could have walked around there for the whole day; unfortunately we only had a few hours but what bliss they were. First we saw the usual semi-ruined amphitheatre and military training ground but then, having turned a corner, the ancient city of Pompeii opens up before you; you find yourself looking through a gate up a street with the Roman buildings lining it, very much like they did before destruction fell upon the city. I spent a long time wandering around; however I never found the one building which caused people particular amusement: the brothel, complete with explicit frescos. Having looked at Pompeii, it was time to see that which had destroyed it, so we went to Vesuvius and had a look at the crater. Despite there being no “Mount Doom”-style lava pool, it was still awe-inspiring due to the size of it - there was space for several billion tons of earth.
The following day was much the same; however Herculaneum was in even better repair, with many of the building still being two storeys. When we finished walking around Herculaneum, it was time to leave Sorrento; so we boarded the coach and headed for Rome.
Our first stop was the Colosseum. It was quite amazing to be in the place were so many people died to the rapt cheers (or boos) of hundreds of thousands of people. Dinner at a local trattoria followed soon after; for the second night in a row we were served pasta followed by chicken followed by tiramisu. Not satisfied with the dessert of the evening, four of my companions ordered a half-kilogram of ice cream from the local ice cream stand!
The following day “Gruppo Shrewsburg” crossed Rome, starting at the Vatican, where Scott Reynolds and Bella Shi managed to walk through the wrong door and ended up in the Papal Apartments. A walking tour of Rome from Mr Percival and Mr Fitzgerald (and we didn’t get lost!) took us past the Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps. With the sun on our backs, our final stop was the Galleria Borghese, which contained possibly the finest art collection in the entirety of Europe. In my opinion the two greatest bits of artwork in the gallery were the sculptures by Bernini, who surpasses even Michelangelo. In his sculpture 'The Rape of Proserpina', a viewer can see the indentation in Persephone’s leg caused by Pluto gripping it. While in the gallery we were met by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, who was in town and could not pass up the opportunity for an audience with some Salopians. When we were carted out, we spent the rest of the day in Rome; then returned to our local trattoria for supper. We didn’t have tiramisu for desert!
All good things must come to a close, and so on the final day; we departed for Rome’s airport, ready for our return. La Bella Italia is a fantastic place and I can’t wait to go back.
Guy Cabral (Ch V)