The Roman Countryside

Felice Anno Nuovo (or, in Latin: Annum Novum Felicem)! I was so busy having fun traveling outside of the major cities that I am lumping together my experiences of several small towns outside of Rome with what I saw in the Naples area.

Tivoli. I visited Villa d’Este, a 16th century villa with frescoed rooms reminiscent of Pompeii and an incredible fountain garden.

My favorite fountain? The Fountain of Rometta. It is a miniature of ancient Rome!
Tivoli, with a view of the Temple of Vesta.

Subiaco. I braved the winding path up the mountain to the Sacro Speco (Sacred Cave) of St. Benedict. The frescoes were outstanding, ranging from the mid-13th century to the 15th century, and it was amazing to sit and pray in the very cave of St. Benedict’s hermitage. This was by far my favorite destination!

One of the monastery’s outstanding ceiling frescoes.
A view of the sacred cave from the top of the stairwell.

Civita di Bagnoregio. Despite the rain, it was great to see the hilltop village that was the source of inspiration for Laputa in the Studio Ghibli movie Castle in the Sky.

My view of the village from the bottom of the path.

Caserta. During the drive south I visited the Royal Palace, which was the residence of the the Bourbon kings of Naples and Sicily.

The main stairway leading to the palace’s many rooms.
My favorite ceiling fresco, depicting the marriage between Alexander the Macedonian and Roxane to celebrate the marriage between Ferdinand IV of Bourbon and Maria Carolina of Habsburg in 1768.

Naples. I managed the chaos of the Naples metro system to visit the Naples National Archaeological Museum. It was great to see so many of the frescoes from Pompeii and Herculaneum!

A fresco of Chiron teaching the young Achilles to play the lyre, from Herculaneum.

Herculaneum. I visited Herculaneum before Pompeii, and I am so glad I did! It is much smaller and much easier to explore every nook and cranny of the city.

My first few of Herculaneum. It’s shocking to see how far below the city was compared to now… and even more surprising that it used to be just above sea level!
The beautifully preserved wall mosaic of Neptune and Salacia.

Pompeii. I hardly have the words to describe how exciting it was to wander the streets of Pompeii. The Etruscan Temple of Apollo, the House of the Faun, the Villa dei Misteri, the cave canem mosaic, even the Lupanar… This was one of those visits where I hope I can come back more than once.

Outside the amphitheatre of Pompeii.
One of the many ruins of Pompeii’s villas. I especially love the still-preserved lararium (household shrine) on the wall.
The odeon of Pompeii. I loved the multicolored marble flooring of the orchestra.

Mount Vesuvius. Hiking from the base of the volcano up to the crater was awesome! I was lucky enough to catch the amazing view of the Bay of Naples on a clear day.

My view of the Bay of Naples during my hike to the crater.
The crater of Vesuvius!

The Amalfi Coast. Driving along the Amalfi Coast reminded me of road trips through Big Sur. After seeing Positano and Maiori for myself, I saw why they are such popular destinations. I was lucky to see them on such a beautiful day, even in late December!

The Amalfi Coast, with my first glimpse of Positano.
The black sand beach in Maiori.

Now it’s time to prepare for a new apartment, new classes, and new experiences! With one semester under my belt, I am looking forward to feeling more confident as I seek new places and experiences. If anyone is interested in a more detailed post about any of these visits, I have plenty of photos to share!

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