Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Irony of Volcanoes

Okay, so the last half day in Rome turned out better than expected. We saw a couple of tiny churches and saw some beautiful views of Rome. Then it was off to the train station to catch our train to Naples. The train station was in utter chaos. As I’m sure you’ve all heard, there’s a volcano creating havoc for air travel in Europe. Given how many flights are down, people are turning to the trains. And all of the trains heading north from Rome were sold out until Friday! Totally crazy. Hopefully all of this ash business is over and done with by the time I fly home in a month or so. I have never heard so much about volcanoes as I have in the past 2 days! We boarded the train to Naples and from there took a tram to Pompeii. Our hotel was pretty nice. We had a fantastic view of the mountains (and Mount Vesuvius!) from our balcony. It was pretty late by the time we arrived so we decided to hit up Pompeii the next day. Instead, we took a tram to Sorrento, Italy. It’s this absolutely charming seaside town. So cute. We walked around, shopped, and had a wonderful dinner in town. It was really relaxing and the weather was beautiful.

Southern Italy is certainly different from Northern Italy. It’s a much poorer area and certain places that we passed on the train looked to be in sorry shape. But I swear the physical landscape makes up for it. Huge mountains and the Mediterranean Sea made for incredible views.

We headed back on the tram around 10 and took it easy for the night. We had the chance to sleep in a bit on Tuesday before heading the excavation site (literally a 3 min walk away from our hotel). We grabbed a bite for breakfast and headed in. First impressions: Pompeii is HUGE! I had no idea how massive it was. It turned into a very cool day of exploring the ruins. It’s incredible what has been preserved. We hung out in a former theater and took pictures in a huge amphitheater. I can’t even describe how neat is was to be surrounded by such history and to learn of the complete terror of the way the Pompeii people died. When Mount Vesuvius erupted way back in the day, it rained three meters of ash onto Pompeii. Roofs collapsed and people were crushed. But this was only the beginning. The next day, those who survived quickly suffocated on burning ash and gas that filled the air. There was no escaping it. Completely terrifying to think about. We saw a couple of calcified bodies. One was in a crouching position, the other laying to down with this hands over his head. So creepy.

The experience was totally unique and interesting. Once in a lifetime kind of thing. We boarded the train back to Florence and called it a night. My internet stopped working for some reason on Friday night. This is incredibly frustrating given how much I had to pay for it, but luckily I have the receipt and a teacher that speaks fluent Italian who is going to accompany me to the store that I bought. Hopefully I’ll have it all figured out soon.

I only have two days of school this week! Woot. We have a three day weekend coming up and I am planning to go the Cinqueterre and perhaps the Boboli Gardens in Florence. A book, sunshine, and some solitude sounds just like what the doctor ordered. From one good weekend to the next.
I could totally get used to this…

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