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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mr. and Mrs. Landrum in Europe: First Came the History Lesson…

May 27th, 2010

After having a relaxing day of no itineraries aboard our cruise ship, it was time to get back on schedule and tackle our last shore excursion of our Mediterranean cruise.

Our ship was docked in the port town of Naples, the birthplace of pizza.

Mr. L and I were there for another reason, however – to visit Mount Vesuvius, the only active volcano on the European mainland to have exploded within the last 100 years, and also to visit one of the cities Vesuvius destroyed, Pompeii.

Ever since taking my two Geology courses in college, I’ve been fascinated by the inner and outer workings of our planet, so I was completely and utterly thrilled when I realized we would be able to climb an active volcano during our honeymoon.  Volcanoes are also one of the big reasons I’m so excited to live in Hawaii – I can’t wait to explore the geological intricacies of such a beautiful place!

Some might call me crazy, but climbing Vesuvius was easily one of the most amazing experiences of my lifetime.  It really puts so many things into perspective, including how fragile life is and how easily it can be taken away.

On that same note, once I get to Vesuvio later on in the next post, I’ll let you know when I dive into “geek speak,” so feel free to skip the geology lesson if you’d like :)

Our morning began bright and early, and after getting ready and having some breakfast, we went back to the Stardust Theater to wait for our 8 AM excursion group to be called.  We had decided on the “Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii” tour, which included a few hours visiting the ruins of Pompeii and a few hours climbing Mount Vesuvius.

We chatted with some people sitting near us in the theater, and after they heard which excursion we’d decided on, they laughed and told us something along the lines of “Good luck – you wouldn’t catch me climbing a volcano!”

Our group was finally called, and we made our way off the ship and onto our tour bus for the day.  The original plan was to go to Vesuvius first and then Pompeii later in the afternoon, but after learning about a roadblock caused by some workers on strike on the windy mountain road to Vesuvius’s summit, our group leader and driver decided it’d be best to tackle Pompeii first.  Later we’d be very glad of this decision, because even in the morning, the day was beginning to feel rather hot and Pompeii didn’t have much shade.

Don't worry Vesuvius, we're going to come back to you in a few hours!
We arrived in Pompeii, and our guide for the day led us to the entrance of the ruins.

Looking back onto the modern city of Pompeii and the mountains behind it
He spoke for awhile about the disaster on August 24th, 79 AD that led to the destruction of Pompeii and its neighboring town, Herculaneam (which, by the way, will be where we visit next if we ever find ourselves in Italy again – I hear it’s much less crowded, smaller meaning easier to navigate, and more impressive than Pompeii).  We admired the still-standing buildings and columns surrounding us, as well as the impressive yet humbling view of the monstrosity that caused all of this destruction, Vesuvius.

Columns with original Latin writing still visible
Section of the Forum

View of Vesuvius from the Forum -- very impressive!
We walked along the well-worn cobblestone paths that people of nearly 2000 years ago walked daily…

If you squint closely you can see the marks left by ancient wheeled carts!
…and we were able to see one of these people frozen in time because of the power of Vesuvius.

The expression on his face was incredibly eerie...it sent chills up my spine to think of his last moments
Gorgeous frescoes painted on the walls where the body was kept
We explored more of the ruins, including those that used to be houses and places of business, all with Vesuvius ever-present in the background.

We were able to actually go inside one of these houses, Casa Della Fontana Piccola, to see how the people (at least the wealthy ones!) lived.

Outside of the house
Marble flooring still intact within the villa
An impluvium, an area in homes which would catch rainwater falling from the sky
Skylight in the villa's roof
Beautiful painted frescoes on the walls in the back of the villa, as well as the open roof
Fountain and more fresco paintings
Some other notable sights we were able to experience included --

A bakery:

The marble was absolutely beautiful and perfect for rolling out dough

A brothel:

You can tell it's a brothel thanks to a certain phallic object near the top of the building
The Temple of Apollo:

Front view, with the top of Vesuvius in the distance
Statue of Apollo, the god of light and the sun, truth and prophecy, medicine, healing, plague, music, poetry, arts, and more
Bust of Diana, the goddess of the moon and the hunt
The Landrums in Pompeii

Storage area where many, many more artifacts are kept:

Another cast of a body
You can also see the cast of a dog's body encased in glass here -- archaeologists believe it was chained outside the House of Vesonius Primus, a Pompeiian fuller, according to Wikipedia.  See a close-up picture at Wikipedia's Pompeii page here.
And even the stray dogs that now live in Pompeii's ruins:

Pompeii is enormous, and we definitely weren’t able to explore it all in one day, let alone the few precious hours our excursion provided us with.

Before we knew it, the tour was over and we headed back to the un-ruined, modern city of Pompeii for some lunch.

Remnants of a delicious Neapolitan pizza from a local pizzeria that you can tell we devoured
With our bellies full, we said farewell to Pompeii and headed to its destructor, Monte Vesuvio.

Our last look -- goodbye, Pompeii!


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1 comment:

  1. [...] After we explored the ruined city of Pompeii, it was finally time to climb Mount Vesuvius!  Our tour bus made the nearly-treacherous drive up the mountainside on incredibly narrow roads (and yes, this was a full-size tour bus – it was pretty scary!). [...]



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