In February half - term, 46 Year 7 students enjoyed a fabulous residential to Rome, the Eternal City.
The primary reason for our pilgrimage was to pray at the tomb of the apostles, Peter and Paul. The mighty basilicas which house the relics of these saints were impressive as much for their atmosphere of peace and prayer as for the glory and magnificence of their architecture. We also had the privilege of seeing at very close quarters, Pope Francis himself, the modern day successor to St Peter, and of hearing him speak of our need to create a more just world.
We saw the glory that was ancient Rome, once regarded as the centre of the world with its Forum and mighty Colosseum where gladiators did battle and Christians were fed to wild beasts. We enjoyed an excellent guided tour of the of the Catacombs of San Sebastiano as well taking in breathtaking rooftop views across the city from the Victor Emmanuel Monument and from the Dome of St Peter’s.
Our most relaxing day was spent out of the city in the little hill top towns south of Rome. In the morning we visited Frascati and then Castel Gandolfo where the Pope has a summer palace. The afternoon was spent wandering around another summer palace, Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli. From the extensive ruins it was clear that the Caesars certainly knew how to relax and enjoy themselves.
The weather was kind to us and the sun shone as we strolled around ancient cobbled streets, relaxed in piazzas graced by splendid fountains, ate traditional Italian food in local restaurants - as well as the delicious gelati or Italian ice - creams. On the last day we observed the traditional custom of throwing three coins into the Trevi Fountain in the hope of one day returning to the city.
Our accommodation was the idyllic Villa Palazzola, perched high on Lake Albano in the Alban Hills. The food and hospitality were once again first class, and for that we thank Joyce, Giuseppe, Julie, Mena and all the staff who looked after us so well. Our students certainly seemed to enjoy themselves there, virtually having the run of the place. Each night we had fine entertainment with games, talent shows and discos - and even some of the staff throwing down a few shapes on the dance floor!
Once again, it was lovely to meet up with Alan Wasowski who is now in his second year studying for the priesthood at the English College and who was a former student of St Bede’s.
Our drivers, Heather and Les from Glovers Coaches are now so much part of the pilgrimage that they are honorary members of the college. They are always so accommodating in getting us to where we need to be, but more importantly, they are good friends and it’s always great to share our week with them.
Finally and most importantly, a big “thankyou” to our 46 students who were excellent in every way. Right from the start there was a brilliant atmosphere among them. They were polite, punctual, enthusiastic and good fun. So thanks to everybody - we had a wonderful time, long to be remembered. Mr A Doherty
Here is just a selection of the wonderful comments we received from parents:
"What a wonderful, unforgettable experience for all the children. Can I thank all the teachers immensely for making the trip to Rome memorable. Your involvement, participation and care gave them a group experience to remember!, A big THANK YOU. The Thomas family."
"Just like to say a great big thank you to all who made Millie and Sam's experience in Rome a truly memorable time. They had a fantastic time and made many new friends they haven't stop talking about it since they arrived home. Thank you so much to all the teachers who kept them safe and did a fabulous job of keeping us informed it felt like we did the journey with them."
"Thank you so much for everything you did to make the trip to Rome fun but also safe. Caitlin had an amazing time and is currently zonked in her bed. I've never seen her so tired. The status updates and pictures were fab and I will miss checking for them every 5 mins. "
"A massive thank you to all the staff that have helped this trip happen. Elise said the whole experience was amazing, she has loved every minute of it. She has made some fabulous memories and also made new friends. Thank you for keeping all of them safe, you are all amazing and you did a fabulous job at keeping all us parents informed if your adventures. Much appreciated. God bless you all."
"Massive thanks from Liz and I to everyone involved in arranging, taking part and looking after the kids this past week. Patrick has hardly stopped talking about it and clearly loved every minute including the ice cream. He did however, threaten to ring Childline if we offered up pasta or pizza for some considerable time! Seriously though, the updates helped us through the worrying and almost made us feel like we were there."
"Mr Utting and Mr Rice have kept us updated this week, and deserve our thanks. Likewise, Mr Parker, Miss Baggot, and Miss Devanny have been part of the team, but, having been in this trip last year, I think it's only right that as a parent I pass on special thanks to Mr Andy Doc Doherty. He works all year round to get this trip on, and doesn't get time to be on social media as he does all the stressing and worrying that taking 45 kids abroad brings."