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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Italy - Volcano Adventure - Vesuvius and Pompeii

This person was hiding in a corner

Mt Vesuvius in the clouds Sunday
This girl looked just like our friend Doris -
serving us 2 dips for 3 euros
About 800 years ago - Pompeii was just a little Etruscan settlement in Southern Italy. It had flourished due to its location on the edge of an extinct volcano - where the people happily raised crops of grapes in the fertile volcanic soil. Later - it became a resort community for many of the rich Romans that lived to the north.

Pompeii had restaurants - beautiful villas - public baths - laundries - and brothels. The brothels were populated by slave women. I guess you can’t call them professionals because they weren’t being paid. Their owners made the money.

Pompeii’s history extended 3 times as long as our United States. Then 46 years after Jesus was killed - a disaster struck Pompeii.

In August of 79 AD - the mountain gave off a belch of hot poisonous gasses - killing most of the residents. The next day  Vesuvius blew its top releasing millions of tons of ash - mud - cinders - lava - and volcanic bombs. In a few hours - the town of 11,000 people ceased to exist. Everything was covered by a layer of ash and mud upwards of 30 feet thick. The town was forgotten rather quickly.

Other towns and villages were built on the site over top Pompeii. Then in the 1700s - while digging for a well - the workers fell into an ancient building. They found treasured artifacts perfectly preserved from the damaging weathering and erosion caused by exposure to the atmosphere. For years the area was a treasure trove to looters.

Today - Pompeii is a UNESCO site. The area is protected by the United Nations. Money is being funneled in to uncover and protect Pompeii - and two other towns - Herculaneum and Stabiae.

Lulu and I visited Pompeii about 16 years ago on one hot summer day. Lulu had a conference in Sweden and we bought a train pass and visited Naples and Rome. We enjoyed the trip but left wanting more. We wanted to climb the mountain.

We had a beautiful clear Saturday to climb the mountain. Sunday - today - we had a very nice 60 degree day to wander around Pompeii. After two days of vigorous activity - our legs are sore - but our memories are forever. As I type - Lulu is in bed and dreaming of our two days of adventure before we return to Berlin tomorrow.

It is amazing what fate has done to offer us this perfect time capsule of what daily Roman life was like. The citizens did not have any time to smile for the camera or prepare the town for the public relations videos. Poof - they died - and in a few hours - they were forgotten.

The absolutely strangest thing about the visit is the molds. Someone had great insight while they were digging out the city. Whenever they came to a space or cavity in the ground - they poured plaster into the cavity and let it set. Then they dug out the cavities. The bodies had long rotted away - but the shape remained. The plaster made dead figures of the people and animals of their exact moment of death.

There are few places in the world where you can get such a candid view of history. Imagine if right now - some kind of bomb would go off that killed you instantly - then a material was spread over you to preserve you. And later someone dug you up - poured plaster into your cavity - and found you. Pompeii is a truly amazing and profound place. Admission is 10 euros - and it will be there forever - unless Mt Vesuvius erupts and covers it again.

We entered the city
thru this gate facing
the sea

The columns are made of layers of brick - then plastered

Those columns were marble

Wine jugs everywhere - all 2000 years old

that city gate faced Mt Vesuvius

This puppy kicked by the gas and heat

Contorted puppy

this child's lungs burned by hot gases

Swastika symbol in mosaic tiles - 2000 years old

A bar - hot and cold drinks - food

Every living room had a small pool to collect rain

Mosaic floors perfect preserved

This floors has mosaic of battle of Alexander the Great

More brick columns 

the city had hot an cold water - sewers

Restore portico of public baths

A public bath

Restore portico - all wood roofs were collapsed

Stone bed in brothel - there were six tiny rooms

Latin signs

Wall colors intact

It looks like your hot tub

Fescue where color was put right in the plaster

Atrium rain water pool - and tiles

Restored bar with drink containers

This mill ground grapes to make wine

This winery had water irrigation

This guy is trying to buy two tickets to the games
in the arena

Separate entrances for cheap and expensive seats. 

Field for athletic events

These fountains had running water near each street gate

Area of Temple to Athena

More about the train ride from Naples to Pompeii.
It should take about 35 minutes.

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