Monday, August 07, 2006

Touring southern Italy...

I spent two glorious weeks with my wife (no kids!!) wandering through parts of the Amalfi coast. We flew into Naples, and took a bus from there to Sorrento, where we stayed in a small, charming hotel (called Del Mare), just a stone's throw from the bay. Sorrento has two marinas, Marina Piccola (which is actually the larger, commercial marina, where the various boats and ferries which shuttle along the Amalfi coast come into Sorrento) and Marina Grande (the smaller one!) which functions as a small fishing village. Our hotel was at Marina Grande, out of the main tourist crush, among the locals.

From Sorrento, we took day trips. Danielle and I both like ancient ruins, so we visited Herculaneum and Pompeii, both of which were buried (Herculaneum by mud, Pompeii, ash) when Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. The two present some interesting contrasts. Pompeii was a thriving Roman (earlier, it was Greek) city, a center of trade in the Roman empire, which attracted merchants, craftsmen, freed slaves, and all of the requisite "industries" one would expect in any large city. Herculaneum was a seaside resort for wealthy Roman citizens (including many from Pompeii). The modern city of Ercolano sits above the ruins, only 30% of which have been excavated, because of the city sitting over it. What was, prior to the eruption, the beach, is now the base of a 60+ foot wall of dirt, deposited there during the eruption. Because Herculaneum was covered in mud (whereas ash rained down on Pompei), Herculaneum, overall, is in a better state of preservation, with much of the structural wood in the homes, and even some random artifacts like a length of rope, and a wooden clothes press surviving nearly 2000 years.

More in my next post...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would like to hear the rest of the story for two reasons; (1) I am very interested in all history Italy, and (2) I am planning a trip to southern Italy soon, and I was thinking of starting exactly how you did.

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

MS Guy said...

Yes, I apologize for dropping the ball on this one! I will try to do the update in the next couple of days...