Spring Semester 2013 Orientation
The students and staff of the John Felice Rome Center headed south to the Amalfi Coast for the Spring Semester 2013 Orientation, escaping the bustle of Rome and enjoying the almost-unbeatable scenery of the Mediterranean. Friday began with an early departure from Rome to Herculaneum. Herculaneum (Ercolano in Italian) was a wealthy ancient Roman town located in the Campania region in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius, which in 79A.D. erupted and destroyed the town with its volcanic lava. It is not located far from Pompeii, which was destroyed by ash in the same eruption. The group, 215 in total, received a guided tour while walking around the scavi (excavations), entering the remains of buildings and walking the streets that have been uncovered over the years. After the visit, the group enjoyed lunch at an agriturismo (farm) with excellent tasting of famous Lacrime Cristi (tears of Christ) white wines made from grapes growing in the volcanic soil. With Mt. Vesuvius as their backdrop, they also enjoyed fresh pasta made with the special year-round tomatoes grown in the mountain soil that maintains a delicate balance of sweetness and acidity, slowly ripening on the vine for weeks. The group then headed to Sorrento, where they stayed overnight for the remainder of the weekend.
Friday night concluded with the Community Welcome, led by Dr. Michael Beazley, Director of Residence Life and Student Services, and included speeches by Cindy Bomben, Associate Dean of Students; Marilyn Vitale, Associate Director of Operations and Administration; Prof. Ted Bohr, SJ; Fr. Al Anuszewski, O.SS.T., Director of Campus Ministry; and Prof. Alexander Evers. The welcome was followed by dinner served at the hotel.
Saturday morning, the group departed for Caseificio Mozzarella di Bufala Vanulo and Paestum. The Caseificio is a buffalo farm that produces and sells products made from buffalo milk in-house, such as buffalo yogurt, gelato, ricotta, and most famous, mozzarella di bufala. The students were able to walk around and see first-hand the organic farm’s processes for feeding, milking, and cleaning the buffalo. Then they watched as mozzarella makers stretched and formed the balls of mozzarella, afterwards enjoying a sample of a small mozzarella di bufala ball. Free time was spent either purchasing mozzarella to be taken home or eating any of the several products made on the farm.
Paestum, located in the southeast of the Gulf of Salerno, is an important archaeological site containing three majestic temples located in grassy plains, namely the Temple of Hera, the Temple of Neptune, and the Temple of Ceres. The group visited the site on foot and then walked through the museum containing some of the artifacts found over the years.
Sunday began with a visit to the Royal Palace, La Reggia di Caserta, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site and one of the most important monuments of the Italian artistic heritage. This masterpiece of architecture and decoration houses many works of art accumulated from the various years of use. The group walked room to room, learning their differing purposes and coordinating decorations, with furniture, stucco walls, and fresco paintings and sculptures still in tact. The palace is very reminiscent of the Palace of Versaille in France. Outside the group briefly walked around the enormous grounds containing many gardens and paths.
After dining together near by the palace, the group departed for Rome with a stop at the Abbey of Montecassino along the way. Montecassino Abbey is a cradle of Western monasticism and culture, four times destroyed and rebuilt, and today still offers visitors the splendor of the Cathedral’s art, with evidence of wartime martyrdom and precious manuscripts in its huge library. The group visited the oldest and deepest area of the Abbey (not destroyed by WWII bombings) which included the cell of St. Benedict and the staircase of Epigraphs. The rain and fog were thick as the sun started to set, which perfectly concluded the weekend away from Rome. With so much seen and discovered, all slept very well this Sunday night as they geared up for the beginning of semester classes the next day.