The other really impressive thing about Pompeii was the sheer scale of some of the remaining buildings. One of the facilities was a big arena that included a swimming pool (now completely grassed over but still visible as a sloped depression in the earth).
The other amazing building was the amphitheatre, which is thought to be the oldest amphitheatre in the Roman Empire, predating the Colosseum. The entire structure, unlike the Colosseum, is intact (though many parts are grassed over), allowing you to see the symmetric shape of the facility.
We only spent an afternoon in Pompeii, far too short a time to see everything we wanted to see. But we had to drive on to Positano.
From Rome, we drove the Autostrade to the Amalfi Coast. Our first stop was originally to be Naples, but we decided that the hazards of taking a car into Naples outweighted our desire to see the city. We accordingly gave Naples a miss and (after some maneuvers because we missed the exit) got to Pompeii.
After Rome, which was clean and had its antiquities tucked away into well-defined corners, usually in pretty bad shape (the Forum is nothing but broken blocks and chunks of marble), our first view of Pompeii was a surprise. The city is both more and less well preserved than one might imagine. After reading National Geographic articles about the discoveries from this excavation, the initial reality of the site is a let-down. It’s extremely dusty and has been utterly stripped of ornament—all the good pieces went to museums, mostly in Naples.
However, as we started looking closer and entering some of the dwellings (some of which have intact ceilings, most of which had intact walls), we started to be blown away. Many of the dwellings had gorgeous frescoes on the walls; some had incredible mosaics.
The continuation of our trip can be found on the pages below:
After London, we embarked on a ten-day trip to Italy to celebrate Lisa’s graduation last summer from Maryland with her MBA and MS, and my admission to Sloan at MIT for the fall. The focus of the trip would be the Amalfi Coast, but we had spent some time in Rome on our honeymoon and wanted to revisit our old friend.
Although the city was mostly familiar, it seemed to sparkle as a result of the preparations for the Millennial visitors. One especially noteworthy thing was the colors of the walls, which had been painted throughout most of the city with an ancient technique that used natural pigments in solution with milk to achieve a lovely wash.
We stayed near the Piazza Navona, and spent a lot of time just walking around the place, built over Diocletian’s hippodrome and said to offer the best people-watching in the city. It certainly had one of the best enotecas (wine bars) around…
One of the small joys about our days in Rome was that much of the restoration work that had been ongoing on our previous visit was complete now. I finally got a chance to see the facade of St Peter’s, which had been under scaffolding when we visited in 1998.
One of our favorite churches in Rome is Santa Maria de Trastevere, named for the funky district across the Tiber in which it is located. We took this shortly before going for a repeat dinner at Romolo, one of our favorite Roman osterias. It’s housed in the former villa of Raphael’s mistress, and the seating in the stone courtyard is to die for. We did not die this time, as we knew we were on our way to Paradise on the Mediterranean, Positano. Of course, we’d have to drive the Autostrade del Sol and go through Pompeii first…
We’ve been promising to publish photos from our trips for so long, I can’t blame anyone for not believing that we’d do it…but I’ll try to post more photos every few days for the next few weeks to catch up.
Our travels this year started in London with one of those British Airways saver fares. It ended with meeting one of the Cheeselords and his friends at the Savoy for various beverages, some made with absinthe (which, amazingly, is still legal in London).
Two photos of St Paul here in honor of one of the weirder coincidences of the trip: as I was coming down the steps of the dome tour, having gone to the top to get the first of the photos below, I ran into Dan’s friends starting their ascent. We had been trying to get in touch with each other for three days…
Aggarwal, We Hardly Knew Ye
Between conversations with old friends and mash notes from the Post, I’ve heard the name Reggie Aggarwal more often in the past month than in seven years. So who’s Reggie? Maybe these two gems from “Hoover” by Lee Keath (a YJ-revival-era ‘Hoo) will shed some light into the depths of his past:
This is me working with the Suspicious Web Committee.
|Well, we just returned from our trips to Ireland and France. We have plenty of photos, and I will be posting those as time and disk space permit.
|Jarrett House North is the northernmost outpost of my little corner of the Jarrett family. The next nearest claim to the title is my sister’s home in Richmond (sister pictured, right), followed by my folks’ place in Newport News, Virginia. After that it’s all North Carolina and the ancestral (stony) ground.
The long-promised sets of photos from our European trips are looking for a home. I’m out of disk space on my old Mac and experimenting with different free web hosting services. At some point the whole page may move there; right now, I’ll just be hosting the pictures.
What’s Not (Yet)
I’d really like to get some information together on the publications I worked on in school, such as Rag & Bone and Aleph.
Who knows? Maybe my wife will want to put some things up here too…