Thursday, December 17, 2009

Italy, Part Two--Pompeii and Herculaneum

Insider Secrets to Cheap Flights

From Naples, it's an easy commuter train ride to either Pompeii or Herculaneum. We spent a day in each ancient city.

The two cities that perished in 79AD sit in one direction in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius. Modern Naples sits in its shadow in another direction. Vesuvius is an active volcano that last erupted in 1944. Eventually, inevitably, there will be another eruption as powerful as the one that buried the two Roman cities in the 1st century.

Pompeii had actually been a thriving city for centuries before it became part of the Roman Empire in the 4th century B.C. However, what both Pompeii and Herculaneum are known for today is the preservation of Roman cities under 60 feet of ash, where they remained until accidentally discovered in the 18th century.

Both cities were resort towns for visitors from Naples and Rome, and homes, shops, and tombs are preserved. The ash burned some bodies of animals and people away, but left perfect molds that in modern times have been filled with plaster to create eerie ghost sculptures.

Preserved streets and buildings show us exactly what the city of Pompeii was like just before its destruction.

Some are so complete that you almost feel you could move in. Murals, courtyards, and fountains show how elegantly and comfortably people lived here.

A lifestyle wiped out two thousand years ago, yet preserved for future generations to discover and appreciate.

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