Having experienced school geography trips to the Bay of Naples first hand with UK school groups, Travelbound Tour Co-ordinator and Naples native Laura Marrocco discusses the tried and tested formula which sees Party Leaders and their school groups opt for the rugged coastline of Southern Italy.
‘In Italy, anything is possible.’
You have the added benefit of growing up in the Naples region, how do you see key landmarks supporting students learning?
Party Leaders are likely to be familiar with notable landmarks like Vesuvius and the impact that has had on towns like Pompeii and Herculaneum. Don’t forget that Herculaneum is still inhabited which will stimulate enquiry amongst students as to why this is the case. While the old town of Herculaneum was covered by the eruption, the sea level retreated and the new town sits where the beach used to be. I often get asked by students what is the impact and history of living so close to Vesuvius. Many struggle to understand how living in close proximity is a way of life for locals.
The other thing to consider when contemplating a school trip is the value of those landmarks you will expect to see. By visiting the locations which hold either geographical or historical importance, students will be able to place their learning in context and return home with a better understanding of what they have covered in the classroom. Comprehending scale leads to a developed perspective which is all important when considering the development of young learners.
While your most recent experience with a school to the Bay of Naples had a geography focus, are there any excursions that stand out suitable for students from other disciplines?
I would strongly suggest a visit to Capri. Most school groups will stay in Sorrento and with Capri only a 30-minute boat transfer from Sorrento, the island is a popular day at leisure for classics groups. While Capri is known to be an expensive island, it is the boat tour around the island which offers the most value with students given the chance to explore rock formations. This is a great opportunity to generate discussions within the group and with space for 50-60 passengers, Party Leaders will likely prefer to keep their students all in one place.
Earlier you mentioned Herculaneum, Pompeii and Vesuvius which are all popular with our school groups. Have you got any advice to consider when visiting these sites?
I’d suggest between one and two hours to visit Herculaneum old town which will provide enough time for students engage with the site and complete some fieldwork. Travelbound offer a workbook to accompany tours to the Bay of Naples and it is a great addition for Party Leaders to utilise should they want to further enhance their instruction whilst away.
I always recommend my groups to link Vesuvius and Pompeii together in one day so students can place in perspective the distance and reach of the destruction Vesuvius had on the area. It is also good to link the two as groups with geography and classics students can both take away learning from the day.
What new excursion would you suggest for Party Leaders to discover a new area of the Bay of Naples with their students?
I recommend Sommerso di Baia. Located in the Phlegrean Fields, school groups can take a guided trip on a glass-bottomed boat and see the ruins of the imperial town which have become a marine archaeological park. This gives students a unique insight into an important imperial coastal resort in Roman times. There are also some archaeological sites in the small town and an archaeological museum in a medieval castle.
When would you recommend schools to travel to the Bay of Naples?
October, Easter and July remain popular times for schools to travel to the Bay of Naples. You may think these times are popular tourist traps but with everything planned out for our school groups Party Leaders can rest assured they can maximise the school trip experience. For the price conscious teacher, I’d recommend looking at February. While the weather can be hit or miss, travel in February is cheaper. What’s a field trip without a little rain!
Any top tips for Party Leaders planning a school trip to the Bay of Naples?
While we can help tailor the school trip experience to the school’s chosen subject or cross-curricular needs, I’d say it’s important to remember the school trip is a learning experience that extends beyond the textbook. While some students may be accustomed to travelling with their family, travelling with their peers will provide them with a new experience that will call on the student to develop skills, improve independence and increase confidence. It’s important to tap into the cultural aspect of travelling abroad and everyone knows we make good pizza! So, get your students involved in a pizza making class as one of your evening entertainment options, spend time in Sorrento exploring the locality and consider some contingency money for impromptu pizzas outside Herculaneum.
I would also suggest Party Leaders consider working with other departments to maximise the experience for students. There are a number of excursions in the Bay of Naples which would suit both geography and classics students. Adding in one or two nights in Rome is also well worth thinking about. Visiting the Colosseum is worth the stopover alone and presents students with added value to their time outside the classroom.