|View of Vesuvius from Hermitage Hotel in Sorrento|
If something more is needed, then cross the hills just behind Sorrento. One then finds oneself on the Amalfi coast, which is part of the northern shore of the Gulf of Salerno. Nearby is the picturesque small town of Positano, built on a very steep slope running down to the sea. It seems surprising that the colorful little houses do not themselves slide into the water.
|Vesuvius erupting over Pompeii|
Among this plethora of attractive options, my strongest memory of my visit is of the ruins of the Roman city of Pompeii. These are very close to Sorrento. When Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, volcanic ash and boiling mud flowed down the mountainside and buried Pompeii. It stayed buried for nearly 1700 years and was not uncovered until 1748. Then, the excavation of the ruins of Pompeii revealed what had been a thriving Roman city, just as it had existed at the time of Jesus Christ and Julius Caesar. The layers of volcanic ash had allowed it to remain undisturbed over the centuries.
|Pompeii man is frozen in prayer for eternity|
|Charge of the Light Brigade|
Yet Pompeii is not just some old ruin. Since its excavation in the 18thcentury, it has been a hugely important place to visit. Even rich English aristocrats undertaking their “Grand Tour” of Europe in the 19th century always took care to visit Pompeii. Today, in a country full of places to see, it is one of Italy’s most visited locations. In 2007, there were over two and a half million visitors. But take care when you visit because, since that fateful day in AD 79, Vesuvius has erupted again on dozens of occasions. It has not erupted since 1944, so it’s probably due to erupt again soon. It would be a pity if your visit was disturbed by waves of volcanic ash and boiling mud.
This piece, written by Bob, was originally posted on our website on April 16, 2009.