Sunday, May 02, 2004

It's 9:15 pm, just after Naples dinner time, and we leave tomorrow morning by train to Rome. As fantastic as the whole trip has been, I confess to being VERY EXCITED now. We'll be staying at a bed and breakfast just 5 minutes walk from the Colosseum (apparently b&b's are a little less expensive than hotels here in Europe), but breakfast is included. Allen says not to count on too much of a breakfast, as we are in real Continental breakfast territory -- that is hot coffee and rolls. Here in Naples, some people eat their breakfasts in bars, that is coffee bars. They stand up, talk and munch away on fresh sweet rolls and drink strong coffee, and off they go, on their motorbikes. Chaos quickly ensues.

We're still recovering from our back-to-back visit to Pompei and Herculaneum over two days. Pompei, inundated by clouds of noxious gas and killing hot ash, was buried to a depth of 20 feet, while Herculaneum suffered a hot mud flow which buried it to a depth of about 60 feet. Excavations are still underway at both sites, but imagine Pompei as a town of 20,000 (about 2,000 died in the AD 79 Mt. Vesuvius explosion). Everything lost but a wealth of material to study. I loved the wall paintings, delicate mythological scenes, and rich mosaics, some black and white, some every color. Allen liked the way that traces of daily life were preserved. He was impressed by the 89 fast food joints, looking like they were just ready to serve food to the hungry citizens who wanted to eat on the cheap. The public baths are amazing, Roman baths still ready to use with dressing rooms, steam rooms, pools for bathing, and a frigadarium (think very cold water). Of course, separate baths for men and women. We were also enthralled by the sense of class mobility even in those times, for Pompei was based on a slave economy, yet we were struck by how many slaves became wealthy. One former slave bought a temple in the name of his six-year-old son (Temple of Isis) that made his son automatically a member of the Senate. And, of course, I have some truly wonderful pictures that I'll try to post later.

For now, I'll close by saying you should have been here for the parade we saw last night after dinner -- A religious parade went right by our restaurant to celebrate St. Gennaro festival day. We saw bands, floats, banners, people carrying candles and saints and angels. Truly a wonderful way to say goodnight, Naples!

Be well. Beth

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