Thursday, June 25, 2009

Traveler explores Pompeii and Herculaneum

Up early for the drive down to Naples to visit the ancient site of POMPEII and Herculaneum! I was so excited!

Here it is, Pompeii. It is thought that a city was first founded here in the first half of the 6th Century. Pompeii, which was at first considered part of Greece, was absorbed into the Roman Empire as a colony in 80 B.C. Mount Vesuvius suddenly erupted on August 24th at 2pm in the year 79 A.D. Over two days, Pompeii was buried under 60 feet of ash and pumice. Those residents who did not leave right away, were buried along with their town.

I am outside of the Sea Gate. This was one of the gates into the city.

This was a Mill, a horse used to walk around this pedestal and turn the grinder.

These were like modern speedbumps, they were placed in the road and wagons had to go over them and horses had to go on either side. Pedestrians could also use them to cross the dirty and muddy street.
This was the part of the road which was to be used by animals and carts...

This was the side walk to be used by people.
The Pompeiians used this type of honeycomb wall construction to provide stability for earthquakes which were, and still are, common in this area.
The marble floor of part of the city's Forum.
The central road leading to the Forum with it's line of arches.
This is the remains of a person who died in the eruption. Most people were immediately vaporized by the hot ash and gas. These are actually plaster castings of the empty space left by the bodies in the volcanic ash. The casts include the bones and in this case the teeth. It's very sad to see these people...
Most of the bodies died with upraised arms as they tried to ward off the hot gas and choking ash.
Here is a remaining fresco left in a home. Some of the frescos are just beautiful and a wonderful glimpse into how homes would have looked thousands of years ago.
A beautiful tree filled courtyard in the extensive public bath complex.
The plastered roof of a bathing chamber.

Another courtyard of a private home. Every house had an inner courtyard surrounded by rooms. I love the layout of the homes...
There were also inner courtyards in the home entrances which had shallow pools to catch fresh rain water which then drained the water into a cistern for use by the household.
See the wagon tracks in the street? They go right over the street bumps. Some of the streets actually had white reflective stones (called Cat's Eyes) embedded in them for illumination at night. The Pompeiians (and the Romans) used very advanced technology.

This was a swimming pool in a outside courtyard of a home.

Here is the Brothel. I was nervous about going in...

And look who I found in one of the rooms! Sally, you get out of there!

My favorite mosaic, it shows birds taking a shiny necklace out of a jewelry box.

I found lots of sleeping dogs laying around the ruins...

Here's another one.

And this one! I though it was best to let sleeping dogs lie...

Especially after I saw this mosaic in the floor of a house. It says in Latin, "Cave Canem" which translates to "Beware of Dog".

After exploring Pompeii, we got ready to head over to nearby Herculaneum. That is after Sally stopped flirting with our guide Cosimo...

Herculaneum is close to Pompeii, but closer to the sea. It wasa smaller and wealthier town than Pompeii. It was also buried in the euruption. Herculaneum's remains are in much better shape, wood, furniture and even cloth was preserved.

Looking down over the ruins.

The wall on my right shows the height to which Herculaneum has been buried over the years.

The hole in the cliff is one of the vaults which was probably used as a warehouse. Most of the remains of residents killed in the euruption were found in these vaults where they gathered to try to find safety during the eruption.
A garden.
Inside of a house, this bronze statue was found in this home and is believed to be of the home's owner. I wonder what happened to him? Did he escape?

Inside of a house.

Remains of wooden beds in a bedroom.

A beautiful private temple.
A beautiful inner courtyard with stairs to the second floor.
A wonderful tiled floor.

What a day!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Traveler Explores The Tiber River

Up early again. I tried to tell the Girls that Rome wasn't built in a day, but they didn't listen...

First stop, the Boca Della Verita, The Mouth of Truth. Before I knew what it was, Sally told me she had put a piece of candy in the mouth and told me to look for it. "Where is it sally, I can't see anything in here..."

Then, I realized what she was doing...

It was only later, that I learned that the mouth is supposed to bite off the hand of someone who is lying. It didn't bite me but I couldn't watch when Sally put her hand inside...

This is inside of the Church, Santa Maria in Cosmedin, built in the 6th Century. It is a more simply decorated church and so far my favorite...

We walked along the Tiber River. Legend says that it was named after a king named Tiberinous Silvinus who drowned in the river. Tiber Island is a small island that was historically significant to the founding of Rome. The island provided safety to travelers on the old salt roads and created a safer place to cross the river.
This is the remains of an ancient bridge, the Ponte Rotto which was built in the 2nd Century B.C . All that remains is this one section in the middle of the river. It's name simply means Broken Bridge.

You can still see the cobblestones up on top.

On the Tiber Island is this beautiful church of San Bartolomeo all'Isola. The church was built in the 10th Century. This is a statue of Saint Francis, who is the patron saint of animals. Both my girls wear a St. Francis medal around their necks to protect all of us at Shiloh.

The church was built on the site of a Temple from the year 293 B.C.

Here is the oldest bridge in Rome, the Ponte Fabricio. It was built in 62 B.C and has been in continous use ever since!

Later on we visited Piazza Navona. Here is Bernini's Fountain, the Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi, the Fountain of the Four Rivers. It's beautiful and one of my favorites.

I like the Dove up on top of the Egyption obelisk.

Bernini portrayed four major rivers, the Nile, the Ghangis, the Plate, and the Danube. Here is the statue for the Nile, see how his face is covered? It's to show that the source of the Nile was still unknown.

What a exhausting, but fun, day. We walked miles and miles. And, it's not over yet...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Roman Cats

Today we visited the area where Julius Ceasar was assasinated in 44 B.C. It is called the Largo di Torre Argentina. It is believed that he was killed on the steps of Theatre of Pompey. While Marc Antony was anxiously waiting to warn Ceasar of an assasination plot in the Forum, Ceasar was intercepted by a group of Senators and lured into a room in the Theater. It was here that he was stabbed.
This is the square where it is said he was killed.

Is this part of the Theater?

Not only is this a place of historical value, but it is also the home to the well know Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary! You can see cats lounging around in the ruins and lots of people come to watch them. Here are some laying in the shade of the marble blocks.

There is one on the steps!

Sally went and played with that one, I hope she is careful and doesn't drop him like she did with you know who...

We went inside of the Sanctuary. Here are two cats eating some breakfast.

This is Bloody Mary, she likes to scratch! Every cat has a name and is brought in from the ruins to be spayed or nuetered and evaluated. Those that can find new homes are available for adoption. They have many older and crippled cats that are available for Long Distance Adoptions with a monthly support fee.

This sweet guy has neurologic problems, but he is happy and well loved in the Sanctaury.

Here is a kitten that someone dumped near the square. Irresponsible people regularly dump unwanted cats and kittens here. This puts a lot of strain on the Sanctuary. Why not check out their website and donate something? All the cats are welcome and loved and get any needed vet care. The Sanctuary runs only on donations and they can use the help.

Sally and my friend, Preston, played with the cats in the Nursery, which is really the Hospital Ward.

Jill and Tony "adopted" three cats. This is Flavia who is very afraid of people due to abuse. She had to have both ears amputated due to cancer soon after she arrived at the Sanctaury. Once she is settled in and gains some trust, she will be allowed to roam freely like all the other cats. Once a cat is over it's health issues, thay are allowed to roam freely in and out of the Sanctuary, who still feeds them daily. The Sanctuary provides food for over 200 cats each day.

Here is Spencer, who is blind in both eyes. Jill and Tony "adopted" him as well.

This is Gene Kelly, named for his long legs. One of his hind legs is paralyzed, but he still gets around and is a real character. Jill and Tony "adopted" him until a real home comes along for him. They even had a cat a few years ago who they named Tony Curtis. He was rehabilitated and adopted out to a new home.

It's so cool to see these cats laying among the rubble and ruins of this historic area. If you ever get to Rome, please do come here to see the cats! Or, think about a Long Distance Adoption like we did.