This October half-term trip marked a wonderful return to the History of Art Department’s Italian ventures, our first foray in three years because of the pandemic. The party consisted of 22 Upper Sixth pupils with four staff, and from our base in a hotel on a quiet street in north-west Rome we spent six days exploring this most culturally rich of cities, with break-out visits to Tivoli, Naples and Pompeii. The focus was solidly on Renaissance and Baroque art, covering a range of palaces, galleries, churches, and public monuments such as fountains, as well as some ancient sites at Pompeii, the Colosseum, and the Forum.
The most popular place for many pupils was Villa d’Este out in the Lazio Hills which we visited on an idyllic Sunday morning with warm sunshine, fragrant flowers, and the sound of fountains mingled with bells. Of the city sights, everyone was dazzled by Palazzo Colonna’s general opulence, recognized the quality of the pictures in Palazzo Barberini, and appreciated the interplay of works and settings in Villa Borghese. It was good to observe some critical discernment creeping in as the week progressed, with students alive to the subtler charms of the Tempietto and Palazzo Corsini. They also responded very well to Pompeii, although our trip to Naples will be perhaps best remembered for our confused coach driver nudging his 49-seater down a pedestrian precinct to the hazard of shoppers and a statue.
It was so important for pupils of History of Art to at last travel freely again and have their chance to see the wonders of Italy at first hand. They all enjoyed a week of exceptional art and architecture, high culture, delicious cuisine, collegial warmth, and a spirit of shared academic endeavour.
Head of History of Art