Today we awoke with the heavy thought that today would be our last day in Italy. We tried to forget this as we boarded the bus to Pompeii, and some managed to doze off for the hour-long ride. The ones who kept awake saw the beautiful coast that has started to become familiar. We stopped at Lake Avernus for a photo op, which recalled memories of book six of the Aenead and Aeneas’ journey to the underworld for some.
We reached Pompeii and found our way first to the larger theater. We were sent on a mission, an “Unger Games” challenge, to scour the theater and figure out a few things about it. First, who the most important man in Pompeii was and where he sat in the theater, second, what the cooling system was, and third, how the seats were numbered. Putting our heads together, we succeeded in observing and inferring to answer all these questions.
After this first theater, which was used for larger productions, we went into a smaller theater, which was used for smaller recitations and music performances. Then, through a lively display of a scene from a play perfomed by Mr. Unger and Mr. Hartnett, we learned about theater productions and the common genres of the day.
From the theaters we traveled along the raised walkways to the forum of Pompeii. As we all gathered in the middle of the forum, we were given another “Unger Games” challenge and split up into groups to use our knowledge of forums to figure out where religious and government buildings were. After gathering our information and presenting it to the group while touring the forum, we heard one of the final presentations from Christina. She told us about the building of Eumachia in the forum, and the mysteries surrounding it. We don’t know to this day what the building was used for, but there were a few guesses, the favorite being a place for slave auction.
After touring the forum, we took a quick break for lunch and continued on to the House of the Faun, where Ify gave her presentation and quizzed us on the layout of Roman houses. This house was the biggest in Pompeii, stretching as far as an entire city block. We then left this magnificent house and headed to one of the most well-preserved and excavated buildings in Pompeii, the brothel. We were given a quick description and toured through the first floor, following a large number of other people in tour groups.
We made our way to our last stop in Pompeii, the amphitheater. Mr. Hartnett, after helping us translate some first inscriptions, such as the ones used in political graffiti, let us loose on the final inscription, describing the building of the amphitheater. We then were seated in the lowest point in the building, the arena where games would take place, and told the history of the gladiatorial games in Pompeii and how gladiator rankings worked.
After leaving Pompeii, we headed to our very last stop in our tour of ancient Italy. We came to Oplontis and the Villa of Poppea, one of the most well preserved villas we have. We also were able to see the structure of a lavish house in the most realistic and original state so far.
Our final stop before heading back to Villa Vergiliana was the much-coveted trip to the Gelateria. With the sweet treat we were reminded with heavy hearts that we would not spend another day in Italy, but return back to Boston and then Exeter. Bella Ciao!