Day: January 22, 2014
Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD in Italy. This dangerous volcano buried two Roman towns. The names of the towns were Herculaneum and Pompeii. Herculaneum and Pompeii have some differences and some similarities. Here are a few. Both of the towns are coastal towns, and they were both buried by the same volcano. Additionally, they were in the Roman Empire.
Here are a few differences of the two towns. Pompeii is a much bigger city while little Herculaneum stands aside like a little mouse because it is so small. Pompeii had a population of 20,000 people, while Herculaneum had only 4,000.
When Vesuvius erupted, it covered Pompeii in hot ash, while Herculaneum was buried the next day by a pyroclastic flow. Archeologists have excavated both towns. What you can see now is all that they have uncovered. Today, anyone can walk through the streets as if the markets were still alive.
[If you get the chance, go see them!]
After Naples, we were a bit worried about Rome and whether or not it would be so gritty… well, it wasn’t. Rome was the grandest city we had ever been to. All of the buildings were wonderfully decorated and regal. The city makes you actually feel like you’re somewhere special. We stayed in a nice apartment with a kitchen so small, it felt like you were in a closet with a sink, a stove, and an oven. After we arrived to Rome in our first speed train (it was super cool, it goes 186 mph), we walked around the city to try and get our bearings. We ended up walking to the front of the ancient forum, and going into the capitoline hill monument. The building was flanked by two soldiers who stand at attention twenty four-seven guarding the tomb of the unknown soldier.
On our second day it rained, but that didn’t stop us from getting outside. We visited the Vatican City. We self-toured the papal collection in the Vatican Museum, which was full of beautiful statues and ancient Egyptian mummies. One passage way has a ceiling so lavish with gold, King Midas himself would have been as breath taken as we were. We tunneled around the beautiful courtyards and vast hallways until we finally came to what we were hoping to find; the Sistine Chapel. We entered the room full of tour groups and security officers. Some of the surrounding people were crying from the beauty. We looked up and mom couldn’t answer my history questions. She was speechless. Above us was a ceiling painted with what is considered the most beautiful frescos in all of history. Amazing paintings decorated the chapel, and in the center of the ceiling was The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo.
After our visit to the chapel, we exited the building and headed into the magnificent St. Peters Square and into St. Peters Basilica. Michelangelo’s cathedral is definitely one of the grandest and extravagant churches in the world. In the center of the basilica is an enormous bronze canopy supported by unique twisting pillars. Underneath the church is a crypt full of the tombs of past popes which is entered by a stairway underneath a statue of St. Peter.
On our third and final day in the Roman metropolis, we headed to the Colosseum. The Gladiator stadium was erected in 75 ad and took only eight years to build… but the history of Rome is much different from the history of the Catholic Church, hence the third day in Rome deserves its own post.