Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Italy, Part Three--The Appian Way

Getting Out in the Countryside

You may have noticed from my photos of Pompeii and Herculaneum that Italy is an exceptionally photogenic country. Wherever you point your camera, you get a beautifully composed picture. One other country I have visited is similarly camera-friendly: Japan. The difference is that in Japan most of that composition is man-made--every patch of greenery in the city becomes a garden, and even in the countryside agriculture is laid out in pleasing patterns.

In Italy, though, Mother Nature is the gardener. Flowers grow wild, sunshine is golden, and the intense blue of the sky is punctuated by strategically placed clouds. Some of the poplars are planted, of course, but most spike skyward in random places, perfect to punctuate a photo--or a painting. Even the chickens are worth chasing down for a portrait, and not even Ireland has more shades of green.

After visiting Naples, Pompeii, and Herculaneum, we rented a car and drove out to see the famous Appian Way, the tomb-lined ancient Roman road. This is the tomb of the great orator Cicero.

We stayed at a farm B&B, where the family cats climbed the roof and came into our rooms to visit, and simply explored the area within convenient driving range. We were well off the regular tourist path here, visiting the small towns and villages dotted here and there.

Hillside villages are old, their narrow streets not designed for modern traffic. At one point we could not get the car we had rented through, and had to back out of a street until we could turn around.

And the past is everywhere. On the edge of one village we found the ruins of a Roman village, just there, not labeled, an archaeological dig left for people to admire ... or ignore.

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