Friday, October 8, 2010

To Pompeii and beyond

Let me start this post by saying that when I was 12 or so, I remember reading a National Geographic article about Pompeii and was horrified/amazed/astounded about the events of the morning of August 24th, 79 AD.   

As the information board told us….. “a sudden terror abruptly interrupted the daily routine of the inhabitants of Pompeii.  This was followed shortly afterwards by a tremendous blast signaling the beginning of a violent eruption with a column of debris rising over 20,000 meters into the sky.  Carried by the wind, this cloud of debris hailed down upon Pompeii, submerging the city in just a few hours in some three meters of material.  The roofs of many houses caved in under the weight, often crushing and killing those who had taken refuge within.  But the worst was yet to come.  At dawn of the following day, the first pyroclastic flow, composed of hot gas and fine ash hit Pompeii and sealed the fate of every person and animal it encountered.  The burning ash clogged the lungs and caused death by suffocation.  In the end, Pompeii was left buried under 5-6 meters of ash and debris in a desolate grey landscape whose only features were a few protruding walls.”

With this terror in mind, we did what any good tourist would do….. we climbed to the top of Mount Vesuvius, which is still an active volcano!!!! 

We took a train from the Naples station to Pompeii and then hopped onto a bus that took us up onto the side of the Volcano.  After that, we hiked up to the top and looked into the cause of the disaster.

On one side of the trail, we had wonderful views of Naples….._A060265

while on the other we had amazing images of the volcano cone….

_A060277 All along the way there were monitoring devices (aptly named a “blind crew”) and there are lots of scientists studying the area…..

_A060317 There was definite evidence that the volcano is still active as you could smell the acrid Sulfur odor and see the steam rising from some of the vents…..

_A060280 We met a wonderful couple from Hungary and walked a part of the trail with them.  Most walkers kept to the trails, however as usual, there was one errant soul……

_A060310 This was also a reminder that they dont have “personal injury lawyers” in Italy!!!!

The weather was wonderful, but a few clouds moved in as we were starting down the mountain.  It was fun to realize that you are up among the clouds…..

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While walking down, we could see one area where the lava would have flowed out of the crater and then we could find the lava field on the other side of the trail….

_A060318This lava flow would have been from the last eruption in 1944.  By the way, it erupts about every 50 years so they are waiting for it to blow again!!!

This walk was a wonderful start to our day…..

_A060267We took the bus back to Pompeii and entered the excavation site.  Here was our first view of this magnificent city…..

_A060335  We walked along the roads that were composed of HUGE blocks of rock.  Every so often there were three larger boulders in the middle of the road.  One of the tour guides commented that these were the equivalent of “speed bumps” for the chariots!!!

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As we were in this first piazza, it was ironic to look up and see Vesuvius just behind the ruins….

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We noticed that many of the houses had bricks that were made of lava…..
_A060380…one would think that it would have twigged that there was a volcano close by!!!  Having said that, they are even now building towns on the slopes of Vesuvius….even a new Pompeii. 

It was so interesting to walk along the streets and see the houses, shops and villas that were part of the city….

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_A060386 _A060374 _A060520_A060409 I was expecting the above sights, but was surprised to see some of the villas that had beautiful (but faded)frescoes on the walls……
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….Note….in tomorrow’s post I will show more artifacts that are housed in the Archaeological museum in Napes…..

I loved seeing these artifacts as well….

_A060455 I loved the shape of these urns….cant wait to put them into a quilt!!!!  With my quilter hat on, I also found various patterns that I loved…..

_A060406 _A060407 _A060481 _A060482

_A060344 _A060364 _A060398  In these areas they stored some of the artifacts that were excavated from the site.  The “people” are actually plaster casts that were made from the impressions that were found in the ash…..ie, the person died, his body rotted leaving the impression….

_A060561 _A060555 _A060557 _A060560 All in all, it was a wonderful trip!!!!!

We returned to Naples and were picked up at 8pm by Salvatore and taken for dinner.  The restaurant that he chose was having a special night of Funghi (mushrooms) so we had numerous courses of nothing but mushrooms.  The first part was a raw mushroom with olive oil and salt.  Next came a plate with 5 different kinds of mushroom dishes, a spicy stuffed cap, a grilled cap, one wrapped with bacon, one deep fried and a square of a mushroom casserole.  That was the Starter Course!!!!

Next was a mushroom soup made with all different shapes and sizes of mushrooms, followed by a fresh pasta dish with a mushroom sauce….that was Primi Course.

Next was a roast beef with a mushroom and spinach sauce on it.

Finally, for sweets, we had a chocolate filled pastry that was SHAPED like a mushroom!!!!  The chocolate filling was also infused with Truffles.

There were two wonderful musicians trolling the room.  It was fun to watch how they”danced” with the waiters to get out of their way while still continuing to play.  When they found out we were from the US, they played “What A Wonderful World”, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and a medley of other typical US tunes….

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We fell into bed tired, full and happy!!!!

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