“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

Standard

pompei3                   pompei1

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.

pompei9

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.

    pompei8       OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERApompei4

“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,”

PompeiiVenusCupid

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.

pompei5

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.

                  pompei6cave canem

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…

pompei10

Advertisements

TRAVEL MORE FOR A BETTER HEALTH.

Standard

I’M SURE YOU ALREADY KNOW! But just in case you need it, here is a scientific proof from the U.S Travel Assosiation that Travel is seriously good for our health. 🙂 Image

Last month, the U.S. Travel Association, in partnership with the Global Coalition on Aging and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, released the results of a research study that showed a link between travel and positive health outcomes. Basically, the study showed that people who travel are healthier and happier than those who don’t travel.

I imagine some of you might be thinking, “I could have told you that.” But it’s useful to have actual data to back up something that many of us in the travel industry know instinctively.

For instance, the study showed that those who travel are significantly more satisfied in mood and outlook compared to those who do not travel (86 percent compared to 75 percent). Further, 77 percent of Americans who travel report satisfaction with their physical health and well-being, while only 61 percent of those who do not travel say the same. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of survey respondents report walking more and getting more exercise on trips than they do at home.

Travel also has cognitive benefits. A white paper released as a complement to the study, titled “Destination Healthy Aging: The Physical, Cognitive and Social Benefits of Travel,” reports that the stimuli associated with travel, including navigating new places, meeting new people and learning about new cultures, can help delay the onset of degenerative disease.

“Travel is good medicine,” explained Dr. Paul Nussbaum, president and founder of the Brain Health Center, Inc. and a clinical neuropsychologist and adjunct professor of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “Because it challenges the brain with new and different experiences and environments, it is an important behavior that promotes brain health and builds brain resilience across the lifespan.”

From Levanto to Lerici (Liguria Italy) – you’ve already decided where to spend your Summer vacations?

Aside

 We’re already thinking about the summer, the scent of the Mediterranean Sea and its unique scenery…so, here is an advice for an unforgettable trip!

An excursion from Levanto to Lerici (Liguria Italy) outstanding and intact scenery of Cinque Terre is a truly unique experience.

Cinque-Terrelevanto-beachfront                 

A bathe in the charming of old colorful towns in a dazzling location as this particular seafront, overlooking hills, steep terrain where the vineyards triumph.
We are in the beautiful location of Cinque Terre National Park, declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
The trip starts from Levanto, whose historical center shelters genuine architectural treasures, such as the  Gothic church of St. Andrew or the Municipal Loggia of the 13th century. Along a rocky coastline, which descends steeply into the sea, with tight vineyards  that arise between the rocks, punctuated by small villages where agriculture and maritime blend with rich colors, simplicity and charm.

    Monterosso                   Monterosso_al_Mare-oratorio_dei_Neri-facciata1

First authentic stage of the Cinque Terre: Monterosso al Mare, acclaimed tourist resort, adorned with polished villas and a nice beach . In the old-fashioned village center, where the narrow streets climb up the hill, you can admire the Gothic parish church of St. John the Baptist and the baroque Church of San Francesco, close to the Capuchins convent. Here you will come up, among other beautiful things, with  the literary park named after the the poet Eugenio Montale, chorister of these lands.

       OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA                il gigante negli scogli di monterosso 2

Then you arrive to Vernazza, with its awesome marina, around which develops the medieval town, with its distinctive square, you can admire the imposing watchtowers of Genoa and the bewitching Gothic church dedicated to Saint Margaret of Antioch.

       vernazza_street            liguria_vernazza

A hundred feet above the sea there is Corniglia, perched on the crest of the hill and connected to the beach by a staircase of 365 steps;  you can enjoy a splendid view from here.

      corniglia-cinque-terre-mare             corniglia-vicolo

Will certainly have a strong impact the huge black rock overlooking the sea on which Manarola stands, known for olive oil and wine production, with its colorful houses that give the impression to arise from the steep rock.
The last (but not least!) village in the Cinque Terre, and also the heart of the homonymous National park, is Riomaggiore; a picturesque fishing village, with high and narrow houses  coloured in typical pastel colors, among these narrow alleyways you can enjoy a continous alternation of light and darkness.

    A side street in Corniglia             Corniglia-chiesa_di_San_Pietro-navata_centrale-soffitto

Leaving the protected area, is definitely worth making a detour to Porto Venere.
This popular resort of Liguria region is a perfect illustration of the blend of nature and architecture: from the marina promenade that frames the infinite palette of its narrow houses, the steep stairways and narrow alleys end on the promontory of the Mouths where stands the Church of St.Peter, from the early Christian era completed in the Gothic style.

      Mareggiata Portovenere 2003       Porto_Venere-chiesa_san_pietro4
Also worth seeing is the Sanctuary of the Madonna Bianca, formerly the parish church of San Lorenzo, built in the 12th century in Romanesque style it was later restored and enlarged, and the Doria Castle, a majestic military fortress.

        portovenere2        Port-Town-Portovenere-Italia-1050x1680

 In front of Porto Venere we can find the three islands of Palmaria (where you can visit the beautiful Blue Grotto), Tino and Tinetto, all part of the Regional Park of Portovenere.

    cinque terre isola         laspezia

Then we go straight to La Spezia, where one must visit the abbey church of Santa Maria Assunta, which has an interesting artistic heritage inside; and also worth a visit the Museums of the Italian Navy.

The last stage of this beautiful trip, is Lerici, the so-called Gulf of Poets (the Gulf of La Spezia, chosen by Byron and Shelley for their holidays). The resort is marked by a lots of stair and steps and alleyways and by the imposing military Castle. Not to be missed a stroll along the promenade and a visit to the oratory of San Rocco, with its 14th century bell tower and the church of San Francesco for the valuable works of art stored there.

        lerici marejpg     lerici mare 2

I greet you with a wonderful song by a beloved singer passed away, that was just from these  wonderful places. (local dialect)   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoVxtw5V3GQ

With closed eyes I can already smell the scent of the blue sea..

>>>  If you choose to cruise the Mediterranean, Seadreams can bring you there!
        Visit the Facebook page here:  https://www.facebook.com/SeadreamsExcursions
😉

ORDERING A COFFEE…IN ITALY ;-)

Standard

ORDERING a COFFEE…IN ITALY 😉 

Ordering coffee sounds quite easy but depending where you are, things may work differently. If you are in Italy it will for sure 😉

Image

In small towns you can usually order your coffee first and pay later.  In big cities it’s normal to pay first and give your receipt to the barista to prepare your drink.  Unless they offer table service, in which case you sit or are seated and wait for your server, of course ordering and enjoying your beverage while standing at the bar is cheaper than sitting at a table.

If you order coffee, you’ll be served an espresso so if you’re used to ordering a drip coffee, try an americano.  Want to stick out like a sore thumb? Order a cappuccino in the afternoon.  Milky drinks are reserved for the morning in Italy, you may get away with an espresso macchiato after eleven but ordering something with more milk will surely peg you as a foreigner 🙂

Image

But how do you recognize a perfect coffee then? “Must have a creamy brown color, a very fine texture, no bubbles larger or smaller. To the nose – says the expert – the espresso has an intense aroma notes of flowers, fruit, toast and chocolate, all sensations are felt even after swallowing. Taste is round, firm and smooth, while acid and bitter must be balanced “.

Image

The golden rule is: 25 milliliters in 25 seconds! 

THE TIP – Although not expected, if you get good service it’s ok to leave a little something by rounding up.

The pleasure associated with the aroma of coffee is a mass passion for Italians, who daily consume about 70 million cups of espresso at the bar. The notes to the Italian Espresso National Institute, which promotes Friday 17, throughout Italy, “Italian Espresso Day”, the first national day of espresso and cappuccino. A celebration of ‘tazzurella’ (small cup of coffee  ) which will also be an opportunity to find out if the coffee served at the counter is really a good quality and to understand how to choose the right place for a breakfast with all the trimmings.

Image

‘I’ll buy you a coffee’ is one of the phrases that you’ll hear pronounced more often. Even if is a wrong sentence: in Italy there is no ‘one’ coffee, but infinite! Because coffee is a cult, it is a categorical imperative, it is a dogma; everybody knows which type they prefer and defend the superiority of ‘their coffee’.

And after you decided if you’re Copernican or Galilean, and you declare yourself as an incorruptible follower of the “Caffè al bar”, the one with the froth on the surface and the creamy looking flavour, get ready, “one coffees” here are almost endless:

Espresso, Ristretto, lungo (Long).
Macchiato hot milk, or cold milk.
In large bowl, in a glass. Double ristretto.
Cold and shaken. Cold, with milk. Cold, with ice. Cold, period.
With a glass of water at hand.
Natural, no, sparkling water.
American (here are a few, though 😉 ).
With cream. Liquid …. or mounted.
With cold milk separately. Correct with grappa or sambuca.
I could go on ad infinitum, and naturally I avoided the regional variations. The Neapolitan coffee is REALLY a religion, and as such should be treated: books, movies, lyrics have sung the praise. And..I have spoken only of coffee from the bar, the coffee at home (the moka), well we’d have to write an encyclopedia then! 😀

Image

Now that you are sufficiently confused,  do you want to know how I prefer it?

Well, naturally it depends on the time of the day. at this time now.. (which is afternoon on a sunny winter day in Rome)

I will take it Macchiato caldo e con panna, grazie! ^_^ (with some hot milk and mounted sweet cream)  with a little cocoa!

Image

Here are some words you might find useful in your delicious (for sure!) trip to Italy:

Per favore: Please

Grazie: Thank you

Prego: You’re welcome

Come sta?: How are you (formal)

Buon giorno: Good morning

Buona sera: Good evening

Buona notte: Good night

Birra: Beer

Cibo: Food

Dove siamo?: Where are we?

_SEARCHING OUR OWN PRIVATE ITHACA_

Gallery

            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”.

Ulisse_capri_d96k9.T0                   Ulisse_Libia_LeptisMagnaMercato1

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.

Ulisse_tracia            OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

Ulisse_Stromboli              Ulisse_libia

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