“Darkness fell, not the dark of a moonless or cloudy night, but as if the lamp had been put out in a dark room” POMPEII

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On August 24, 79 AD, Vesuvius erupted, burying the nearby town of Pompeii in ash and soot, killing around 3,000 people, the rest of the population of 20,000 people having already fled, and preserving the city in its state from that fateful day. Pompeii is an excavation (It: scavi) site and outdoor museum of the ancient Roman settlement. This site is considered to be one of the few sites where an ancient city has been preserved in detail – everything from jars and tables to paintings and people was frozen in time, yielding, together with neighbouring Herculaneum which suffered the same fate, an unprecedented opportunity to see how the people lived two thousand years ago.

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A “firestorm” of poisonous vapors and molten debris engulfed the surrounding area suffocating the inhabitants of the neighboring Roman resort cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae. Tons of falling debris filled the streets until nothing remained to be seen of the once thriving communities. The cities remained buried and undiscovered for almost 1700 years until excavation began in 1748. These excavations continue today and provide insight into life during the Roman Empire.An ancient voice reaches out from the past to tell us of the disaster. This voice belongs to Pliny the Younger whose letters describes his experience during the eruption while he was staying in the home of his Uncle, Pliny the Elder. The elder Pliny was an official in the Roman Court, in charge of the fleet in the area of the Bay of Naples and a naturalist. Pliny the Younger’s letters were discovered in the 16th century.pompei7

Wrath of the Gods

A few years after the event, Pliny wrote a friend, Cornelius Tacitus, describing the happenings of late August 79 AD when the eruption of Vesuvius obliterated Pompeii, killed his Uncle and almost destroyed his family. At the time, Pliney was eighteen and living at his Uncle’s villa in the town of Misenum. We pick up his story as he describes the warning raised by his mother:

“My uncle was stationed at Misenum, in active command of the fleet. On 24 August, in the early afternoon, my mother drew his attention to a cloud of unusual size and appearance. He had been out in the sun, had taken a cold bath, and lunched while lying down, and was then working at his books. He called for his shoes and climbed up to a place which would give him the best view of the phenomenon. It was not clear at that distance from which mountain the cloud was rising (it was afterwards known to be Vesuvius); its general appearance can best be expressed as being like an umbrella pine, for it rose to a great height on a sort of trunk and then split off into branches, I imagine because it was thrust upwards by the first blast and then left unsupported as the pressure subsided, or else it was borne down by its own weight so that it spread out and gradually dispersed. In places it looked white, elsewhere blotched and dirty, according to the amount of soil and ashes it carried with it.

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“Darkness fell, not the dark of a moonless or cloudy night, but as if the lamp had been put out in a dark room,” wrote Pliny the Younger, who witnessed the cataclysm from across the Bay of Naples.

The darkness Pliny described drew the final curtain on an era in Pompeii. But the disaster also preserved a slice of Roman life. The buildings, art, artifacts, and bodies forever frozen offer a unique window on the ancient world. Since its rediscovery in the mid-18th century the site has hosted a tireless succession of treasure hunters and archaeologists. “Pompeii as an archaeological site is the longest continually excavated site in the world,”

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The People’s Pompeii

“It’s kind of a lost neighborhood of the city. When they first cleared it of debris in the 1870s they left this block for ruin (because it had no large villas) and it was covered over with a terrible jungle of vegetation.”  Much research has centered on public buildings and breathtaking villas that portray the artistic and opulent lifestyle enjoyed by the city’s wealthy elite.

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Archeologists are trying to see how the other 98percent of people lived in Pompeii. It’s a humble town block with houses, shops, and all the bits and pieces that make up the life of an ancient city.

But the eruption still resonates because of the intimate connection it created between past and present. They’re digging in an area where a lot of Pompeians died during the eruption and can investigate in such detail this ancient Roman culture as a direct result of a great human disaster.

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Preserving Pompeii’s Past for the Future

Even after hundreds of years of work, about a third of the city still lies buried. Yet there is no rush to unearth these hidden Pompeii neighborhoods. Today’s great challenge is preservation of what has been uncovered. Volcanic ash long protected Pompeii, but much of it has now been exposed to the elements for many years. The combined wear of weather, pollution, and tourists has created a real danger of losing much of what was luckily found preserved.

We hope all the best for this unique slice of ancient times…

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_SEARCHING OUR OWN PRIVATE ITHACA_

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            IlViaggioDiUlisse

The theme of travel is present in the literature of all time, from classical antiquity to present days. The hero, therefore, has become a symbol: Odysseus. He is clever, curious about every experience, willing to risk in order to satisfy the desire for knowledge; Ulysses is the man sensitive to family affection, longing to finally land the much missed home: his journey, then, is the need to rediscover the roots, to give security to existence. From Homer’s poem the figure of Ulysses was handed over to the subsequent literature as a “hero of knowledge”.

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Ulysses (in greek Ὀδυσσεύς , Odysseus) Half hero, half man. Hero of which you can not do without, who knows how to overcome obstacles with intelligence.

He is the prototype of modern man, contradictory, experienced, adventurous, wise, clever but mostly CURIOUS. Subject to Fate, but also master of its own destiny, ” homo faber fortunae suae.”

Ulysses represents the Journey, the Adventure, he is Freedom, is Research in all its variations, and it is LIFE itself cause life itself is all these things. A journey that encompasses the duality between loyalty to the roots and the challenge of research and full knowledge of “the Other”. And ‘ risk of loss , but also the promise of conquest.

Our natural urge to always searching for New, the instinctive attraction to what separates us from the realities unknown , the ability to adapt to unpredictable situations.

This is the eternal journey of ourselves in search of ourselves, of who and what we really are!

Ulysses is a hero that crosses the border, is a man who wants to go deeper into Knowledge.

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Many authors have written on the myth of Ulysses , giving each one a different reading but he is always the most fascinating and enigmatic of the literature.

Dante describes Odysseus as a hero of the rebellion and free-thinking , which goes beyond the Pillars of Hercules because it does not tolerate limitations. Mainly highlights the desire for knowledge and imagines his last trip with his teammates over the mythical Columns where it was written ” Non plus ultra “. Limit beyond which the medieval man sees the unknown, destruction and death..the end of the world.

“Thus Spoke Zarathustra” by Nietzsche is about a superman, free to build his own destiny, above moral and social laws , following stress and instinctive impulses.   D’Annunzio imagines Odysseus like a  hero – symbol of navigation, as the personification of the superman, the one that rises above the. Always him, the bard/poet , coined the word “Ulisside” to indicate a person inclined to travel.

For Joyce‘s Ulysses the journey is within, he is the absolute anti-hero , not larger spaces not units of time, place and action.

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Ulysses becomes the emblem of a free life and of an heroic fullness.

But we all are “Ulysses” or indeed: “Odysseus”; you are, I am.

When the exclamation mark that we use as our compass snaps, becomes a question mark, and takes us off guard and forces us to open that map of our Existence, to follow with our finger the Roads and investigate those reasons which, at every junction, drive us to take just that one and not the other direction.

Everyone follows his way, imagining his way , everyone is looking for the hidden corners , although sometimes the stories go wrong, theese are just doors behind doors, everything remains the same and everything will change, maybe tomorrow will be better, maybe tomorrow will be worse; but tomorrow, as today is just temporary.

Maybe you are just traveling to get lost..or maybe you are traveling with a goal, living your trip as if each second were the last one; trying to understand what it is this thing that we created and that at some point gets out of hand, enslaves us and kills us, the closer you get the further it goes away: our Knowledge and consciousness!

And traveling beacuse we don’t really know our destination, traveling between Life and Dream, Mortality and Immortality.

Mortality in a sense, so desired by Odysseus, because his desire to return home is so much strong to refuse immortality, he refuses an endless life offered him by Calypso on her island…Is the Journey a perpetual return, to themselves?

 We can land anywhere, but we will never disembark from ourselves.

Have you ever thought of a trip following the footsteps of our hero Ulysses?                                             In the meanwhile, you might look for inspiration here:

http://www.getyourguide.com/rome-l33/rome-full-day-tour-shore-excursion-from-civitavecchia-t11061/

“I cannot rest from travel:                                                                                                                                        I will drink  Life to the lees: all times I have enjoyed                                                                              greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those                                                                                             that loved me, and alone.”                                                                                                                                Alfred Tennyson