King’s College London, has a “Reading Week” of no classes at the end of October, which is meant for catching up on studies and focusing on papers. Of course, Ali and I took the opportunity for the chance to travel to Italy! We went to Rome, Florence, and Venice. Each city was equally beautiful and enchanting! Italy is unlike any place I have ever seen.
Rome has so much history that it seems that everywhere you turn there is another ruin with historical significance. But on the other hand, there is something mildly depressing about it, mainly that its in ruins. The Coliseum or Pantheon for example, two of the original standing structures, once great and tall above the city of Rome. Now a fraction of the massive figures they once were on the city skyline. Almost all of the granite which once covered these structures are gone, used as a quarry by civilizations that followed the great empire of Rome. The modern city of Rome is in fact built on top of all the prior ruins. Excavations in the city are still finding new artifacts of history, yet they do not have the resources to preserve it, so they just cover it right back up. Many of the ruins of Rome are so far below where the city of Rome stands today. To see Rome in all its glory, would truly be a spectacular site. Funny enough, the western saying we all know so well, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” is not at all popular among modern day Romans!
One day we took a day trip to the lost city of Pompeii. We got to climb Mt. Vesuvius, which is still a very active volcano of 4,203 feet. The citizens of Naples, still live in such close proximity of the Volcano, which covered and preserved the city of Pompeii back in 79 AD with its pyroclastic flows. The volcano last erupted in 1944. After we climbed to the top, we went on to tour Pompeii. Pompeii is one of a kind in the world, to be so well preserved after millions of years. Part of the reason Pompeii remained covered and protected for so long, is a lot to do with certain characteristics of the Oscan people (those that lived in Pompeii). Specifically, the erotic nature of their art tastes. Many archeologists uncovered and recovered the sexual frescoes as they were very inappropriate of the time. The frescoes are so well preserved from over 2,000 years ago. We were able to visit one of the thirty-five brothels of Pompeii, not to mention the entire city still has yet to be excavated.
We then traveled onto Florence, which is a charming city. Florence had, arguably, the best atmosphere. Each street is small and narrow, with Vespas everywhere! While we were there we visited the Piazza del Duomo and climbed to the top of Giotto’s bell tower (414 steps in all), and the Cupola del Brunellsechi (450 steps in all). It was tiring, but well worth the views once we reached the top.
The tour of Italy ended in Venice. It is impossible not to fall in love with Venice, a city with no cars so the entire city relies on water transport. Every corner you turn is picturesque. The entire trip we stayed in AirBnB’s with local inhabitants of each city. Our host in Venice, Cesar, was by far the most entertaining. It was not until we arrived, that we learned he spoke barely any English. This did not stop him from being a very hospitable host, within minutes of arriving he had poured us glasses of wine, and was trying to show us the best spots in the city on his map. Every morning he made us a full spread of breakfast complete with espresso. It sure made for an very interesting trip!
We only have a little under a month left in school here, and I have to write four papers by December. I travel to Spain in a week, and can not wait to share about my adventures there. Ciao!