Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Final Italian stop: Salerno

The week flew by as we moved from city to city and site to site. Having only small backpacks made it easy to pack up and catch a train to our next stop. After the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, we headed farther south to the base of the Amalfi coast. Time slowed a bit as we didn't have any plans or "must-dos" other than relax a bit as our trip came to an end. Salerno is a relatively small coastal town and we had a few lazy days.

Along the Trieste Seafront Promenade 
Narrow streets in the old part of town

For some reason, this store caught Krista in its tractor beam...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Herculaneum - oh so impressive

Mt Vesuvius' pyroclastic flows not only buried the Roman town of Pompeii but other settlements in the area. Herculaneum is located a bit north from its popular neighbor and receives only a fraction of the hordes known to flow through Pompeii. Yet, it is an amazing location to wander about and can be done without lots of people. The site spans a smaller area as much of it is covered by the present day city. As we visited, the rain finally caught up with us but we were able to duck into "homes" and other shelters.

Ancient Herculaneum with the modern city behind.

At one point, these bays opened up towards the ocean front. Many skeletons inside.

Jugs & Charred Wood (reportedly original...)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Mt Vesuvius

From Pompeii, we decided to head up to the top of the mountain that had caused so much damage. I guess we could say that we climbed it, but by the time the shuttle bus wound up the roads and dropped us off in the parking lot the walk up was a brief one. The mountain was a bit bashful and kept itself hidden most of the time. The occasional glimpse across the crater or to a higher peak kept us looking for more.

Lots of tourists wind their way of these slopes. 
Looking across the crater

Peering into the crater

Woohoo! 30 seconds of blue skies.

Sunday, August 31, 2014


On of the first things that I discovered about Krista was that she really, really wanted to visit Pompeii - we did meet at a geology camp :) This summer, when my parents gave us the amazing, awesome gift of a week travel the primary location was barely discussed. We were going to Pompeii!

A day forecasted to have rain must have kept the crowds down as we arrived early in the morning with few others and beautiful skies. The walk was humbling as we imagined a bustling village prior to the catastrophic eruption of neighboring Mt. Vesuvius. Narrow streets, side-walk "fast-food" counters, public baths and more provided us with a great trip.

Finally getting to tour a place on her list. 
One of the casts made when the hot ash flew through the city.

Street-dining counter

Inside a bath

Typical cobbled street recessed below the sidewalks / home entrances.



More casts

The edges are still uncovered. What amazing finds lie underneath the vegetation? 
Diner & Fresco 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Naples: a necessary stop-over

Even now, scrolling through photographs, it's hard to believe that Rome and Naples exist in the same country. In Rome, everything seemed to put together so we received a bit of a shock the moment our train deposited us in Napoli. Without leaving the train station, we transferred to the metro. There we waited and waited and waited. The quai slowly filled to the brim with people and there was still no sign of a train. The regularly scheduled train was simply not coming on time (first indication that we were in a new land). Eventually, one did roll in and we loaded with the hordes of others, made our way across town and found our hotel. Strike 2 was arriving in an Italian city on a Sunday afternoon. Almost everything was closed up which made the city feel even more desolate.

The National Archeological Museum was open so we walked there. Along the way we realized that a bathtub ring of graffiti adorned almost every surface of building. Beautiful buildings lay in various states of disrepair. The museum itself posted a sign indicating that the vast majority of exhibits were closed down so we skipped the visit.

Why were we here? Naples is well-positioned for those wanting to visit Pompeii and Mt Vesuvius so it was a necessary stop. 

Closed up

Grass and other plants grew from many buildings and monuments.

I wonder what the sermons here are like...

Sunday, August 3, 2014

To the Vatican

St. Peter's Square
A calm surrounded the square as we entered during the hours of dusk. Gone were the crazy crowds and lines that would return the next day in order to catch a glimpse inside the basilica. Rome felt so pleasant to walk around at night when temperatures dropped and the numbers of tourists dropped.

The next morning we joined the throngs of people to enter into the Vatican Museum. Again, Krista saved us by having purchased tickets earlier and we avoided the hours of standing in line. 

First impression: opulent. Second impression: still opulent

Grand halls managed to hold everyone with ease as we slowly made our way towards the Sistine Chapel. Paintings and tapestries covered every surface.

Hall of Maps

We made our way down the spiral staircase ready for the exit. The works of art were beautiful but how is the expense justified?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Roaming Roman Cobblestones

The size of Rome is perfect! We found it easy to walk from area to area and there are so many pedestrian zones that a sense of peacefulness seems to spread out and about. Getting away from the cars and walking down the cobblestones makes for a lovely afternoon. After we left the Colosseum area and enjoyed a quick sidewalk cafe, we continued wandering around...

Tiny streets where the walls of buildings seem to gently press in opened up to grand piazzas with fountains, statues, obelisks or other surprises.

Marcus Aurelius Column

As we roamed, a general direction was set and we hoped to stumble upon a fun site. At one point, we came upon what seemed to be opening up to quite a large square. The Pantheon loomed at the back end of the piazza.

Street artists hang out in many places and this lady's work was interesting. Her art took form on what appeared to be discarded pizza boxes or other form of cardboard.

Rest break outside of the Pantheon
 A bit further along found us stumbling into the Piazza Campo De Fiori. A flower, pasta, vegetable market fills this square though it's better to get there earlier in the day as vendors begin packing up fairly early.
A statue of the philosopher Giordano Bruno - burnt alive for heresy
 So much pasta...

Piazza Navona is a large square with a beautiful church, gorgeous fountains and a lot of activity.

Crossing the Tiber River

What's the trick of these two guys?