So, about all that nice weather? I spoke too soon. The air began to feel suspiciously colder in the week leading up to our trip to Naples. Lo and behold, as we departed Friday morning (at what felt like the crack of dawn), Rome was covered in a heavy blanket of snow, which put all Italian residents in a tizzy, rendering them unable to do absolutely anything work- or school-related. (Really?! School was still closed come Monday?! Not ours, mind you.) The internet was barraged with images of tourists, bundled up in about fifty layers of winter garments, posing in front of ruins shrouded in white.
Sadly, AAP didn’t get to experience this rare weather; throughout all this excitement, we were participating in a human icicle experiment in Naples. Exhilarating as that may sound, it mostly involved a lot of rain and wind accompanying single-digit temperatures, without all the pretty snow. (I think it is notable to add that even Ithaca, legendary locale of hellish winters, has had milder weather this week, with temperatures in the 50s and 60s fahrenheit. It’s practically balmy there! Tanning weather! I digress.) By the time we returned to Rome, all the fluffy, powdery piles had been reduced to some black sludge and about an inch of solid ice coating the sidewalks. Sigh.
Though our trip lacked the snow hoopla, we were nevertheless bombarded with sights and facts, per usual. Due to the inclement weather, we were forced to rearrange some of our schedule, which Jeffrey handled with typical efficiency. Despite this, the arctic conditions did yield some advantages; we had the city virtually to ourselves. There are few things more surreal than exploring the decaying town of Herculaneum by oneself (or to be able to see Vesuvius in the distance, surrounded by fog and capped with snow).
Our first stop was in Paestum, a former major Greco-Roman city that currently houses three ancient Doric temples: two temples for Hera and one for Athena. Next, we drove to Naples and sampled some of the best margherita pizza, a typical Neapolitan dish, at Antica Pizzeria Brandi. Day two included a trip to the ruins of Herculaneum and a visit to the Archeological Museum in Naples, with architecture history professor Jan Gadeyne acting as our guide. Some of us then chose to tour the Museo e Galleria di Capodimonte, which houses a vast collection of 13th to 18th century painting, decorative arts, and some ancient Roman sculptures.
On our final day, we explored the churches and palazzi of Naples and visited MADRE, the contemporary art museum. Naples was fascinating, but needless to say, we were excited to return to the comfort of our apartments in Rome.
Fingers crossed for the snow forecast this weekend!