Just north of Sicily, Stromboli, one of three active volcanos in Italy, rose out of the flat Tyrrhenian Sea and disappeared into an ominous cloud. It is called the Lighthouse of the Mediterranean: Stromboli has been almost continually active since Roman times, its flanks of grey ash and rusty rock in constant evolution. We watched in silence from the rear deck as hikers’ lamps lit their way to the summit and the village of 500 settled in for the night.
Sorrento was our morning destination, a ochre-tinted town perched over the sparkling blue Bay of Naples on the rocky Amalfi coast.
I succumbed to the lure of the shop windows featuring hand-painted pottery and order two platters reminiscent of the fancy Italian dishware that we acquired during our four years in Italy during the 60’s. Turned out not to match at all, but very pretty and vibrant nonetheless!
The afternoon’s destination was Pompeii, famously buried in 20 feet of lava and ash by another still-active volcano, Vesuvius, during Roman times. Mount Vesuvius yet looms over the marketplace at Pompeii and threatens a population of over 3 million today, making the area the most densely populated volcanic region in the world.
The painting on the left is from the dining room of a upper class home. The mosaic on the right is from a house of a very different type of repute!
The absence of air and water until its re-discovery in 1748 has preserved life as it was at the moment of the disaster, most dramatically seen in plaster-filled cavities in the ash that once held human beings. Current humans have tossed in coins: as a remembrance? to ward off Vesuvius? as a donation? The coins in the Trevi Fountain are scooped up three times a year and used for charity work in Rome, but that’s tomorrow’s post!