Sunday, October 23, 2005

Today we walked the streets of Pompeii.

I think, perhaps, this could be the highlight of the trip for me. Though saying so might be a bit premature.

The city is simply amazing. To walk the streets captured in time so very long ago was overwhelming. To witness their achievements that spoke of artistry and engineering hundreds and hundreds of years before the dark ages was humbling. I even admired (and photographed) the built in drainage pipes that you can still see within some of the walls.

There were a surprising number of eateries, sort of like modern day Rome with at least one pizzeria on every block. Standing before the counters and built-in containters for food, I could almost imagine someone ordering lunch while out and about in the market.

The larger homes were quite beautiful, with atriums, courtyards, and porticos. Remains of colums were strewn everywhere, but a few still stand proudly memorializing the thriving city buried beneath the volcanic ash on August 24th in 74 AD.

I climbed on stones and stared at the view. I walked along the outer walk on a hill and stared. I entered many of the buildings and stared. What a marvel of achievement! It was not just one spectacular building, such as the Colosseum, or a collection of places, such as found in Rome. Pompeii stands as a testimony of the powerful combination of artistry and commerce, of living and worship.

Of course, I find myself compelled to mention that in order to get to Pompeii, we took the metro, Rail Italia, and a local commuter train. Three successful transfers each way!

Our only truly tourist mistake this day was when we picked out this rather engaging book on Pompeii that has colored overlays on photographs of several buildings so that you can see what life was like then and then what remains now. We were so taken with the book that neither one of us noticed that our books were not in English. The rather kind vendor pointed out our mistake and found two copies for us.

We did have this local lemonade-type drink that puckered my mouth for half an hour after drinking it...even after cutting it with water. I assumed it is an acquired taste.

NOTE: I have decided I need no longer to worry about dying from MS. I suspect that I shall perish from lung cancer caused by the COPIOUS amounts of secondhand smoke I am consuming EVERYWHERE I go. I haven't drawn an easy breath since arriving. Hopefully, those in Florence and Venice have a healthier respect for their lungs...but I suspect they will be smoking comrades with the Romans. Tobacco stores must be the wealthiest trade in town!

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