On Monday 6th March, 45 Year 10 students and 4 members of staff had an early start at Newcastle Airport to embark on an educational visit to Rome, organised by Miss Close and Mrs Craig from the Religious Studies department.
Monday 6th March
We were greeted in the airport by a representative of WST, our travel company, and the check-in procedure was very swift and efficient. After a very pleasant flight with Jet2, we arrived in Rome mid-morning and we were transferred by coach to our hotel.
The educational visit began immediately. We walked together through the busy streets of Rome, our first stop being the Trevi Fountain which was absolutely beautiful as you can see from the photograph below. Students were given some time to take photographs and selfies, and also sample the delights of Italian Gelato!
We then headed to the Pantheon, which is the oldest church in Rome, built in 27BC!
Our evening meals (Mon – Wed) were at the Restaurant Regina, a small family run restaurant just around the corner from our hotel. We were treated to a three-course meal starting with traditional hand made pasta dishes for our starter (Primi) followed by a main meal and dessert. The restaurant staff were fantastic and looked after us so well throughout our visit.
Tuesday 7th March
Our second day started with a continental breakfast in our hotel with a large selection of breakfast items, to set us up for the day ahead, before heading on a long walk to see various sites around the capital.
We started by visiting the Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore which is the largest church in Rome dedicated to Mary - Rome has over 1000 churches!
We then headed to the Colosseum which is the largest ancient amphitheatre ever built, and is still the largest standing amphitheater in the world, despite its age. Construction began under the emperor Vespasian in 72 AD and was completed in 80 AD under his successor and heir, Titus.
After sampling some traditional Italian Pizza for lunch in a nearby restaurant overlooking the Colosseum, we then headed towards the Basilica of San Clemente to see the famous mosaic “The Tree of Life” which is directly linked to the GCSE specification for RS. We were also given a tour of the church which sits below the Basilica – the existing church being built on top!
The final visit on Tuesday was to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, located next to the Colosseum. This is a rectangular forum (plaza) surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. Citizens of the ancient city referred to this space, originally a marketplace, as the Forum Magnum, or simply the Forum.
We walked over 9 miles and 20,000 steps on Tuesday! Our meal and relaxation on Tuesday evening was just what we all needed!
Wednesday 8th March
Possibly the one thing we will remember most about our trip was our visit to Vatican City, St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum / Sistine Chapel. We had an early start to get the metro to Vatican City in order to take our seats in St Peter’s Square for our Papal Audience. There was a huge crowd, and the atmosphere waiting for Pope Francis was amazing. We were given a special mention over the tannoy system in the square, much to the delight of our students and staff.
The Papal Audience was presented in multiple languages including Italian, German, French and English and lasted for around 90 minutes, culminating in a final blessing from Pope Francis for those present and their families at home.
The afternoon was spent in the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel with a look at a fraction of the beautiful exhibits on display, before finally getting to see the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo with the world famous “Creation of Adam”.
Thursday 9th March
Our final full day in Rome started with a visit to Sacred Heart Catholic School located at the top of the Spanish Steps. We spent some time in assembly with the school principal and met with some students from the school. We were split into four groups and shown around the amazing building. We also got to see the original painting of the Mater Admirabilis as we have a copy of this painting in our main school corridor.
Thursday afternoon was spent in the Piazza Navona and Jewish Ghetto areas of Rome, before we headed for our final meal at the Hard Rock Café .
Our students were true ambassadors for Sacred Heart demonstrating our mantra of “Courage & Confidence”. Perhaps this is best shown by some quotes from hotel staff and members of the public:
“Our hotel has large groups of students staying from all over the world. We have never met a group as polite, courteous and well behaved as your students”
Breakfast staff, Hotel Lux.
“I am an ex Headteacher and I did not even realise there was a school group on our flight, let alone one so large. Well done everyone, your students are amazing”
Member of the public in baggage reclaim at Newcastle Airport.
A huge thank you to everyone involved… to Miss Close & Mrs Craig for the organisation, to the staff who supported the visit and to parents for encouraging your daughters and to allow them to take part in this amazing experience. The biggest thank you to our amazing students for your example, your character and your remarkable sense of resilience and outstanding behaviour. It truly was a pleasure! Thank you.
Mr M Ashton-Thompson
Assistant Headteacher & Educational Visits Coordinator