This portion of the web doesn't cover current events. The four characters (N.E.W.S.) represents the compass points: North, East, West and South. Here you will find information about various world-wide destinations. This page is updated with facts and images on a number of destinations. Previous themes and topics have been moved to the ARCHIVE section of the web.
“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.” - James Michener
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If You Go:
Out of the Ashes — Pompeii
In 79 AD the city of Pompeii, located in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, was a rich and thriving seaside resort. In its time it was the Malibu Beach of the Roman world. It's markets were rich with the trade from all over the know world, which made a number of its citizens wealthy.
The ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as several smaller settlements and thousands of ancient villas scattered on the hillsides and overlooking the bay, were destroyed in a single day, when Mount Vesuvius erupted on August 24, 79 CE (AD). To the residence of these ancient cities, the mountain, which had been dormant for hundreds of years, was not recognized as a volcano. It began in the morning with a loud explosion when the building pressure of the magma inside the mountain finally burst through the crater of Vesuvius.
The citizens thought it was little of the fire and smoke that billowed from the mountain; surely it was nothing more than a pyrotechnic display, and so they kept about their buisiness. But then, at midday, an even bigger explosion blew a mushroom cloud of pumice 12 miles into the sky. Soon ash began raining on the cities and villas. Although the falling materials were light, it came down in such quantity that within minutes everything was covered to a depth of several inches. That afternoon a third explosion shook the town, sending another column of ash even higher into the air. When the debris from this explosion finally fell, it was of much heavier stone and soon covered the building with ash and stone several feet deep.
Buildings soon began to collapse under the weight of the debris. Those who could left the city for the harbor, finding protection from the rain of stone whenever they could. Those who stayed huddled under stairs and inside their homes. Some holding onto their loved ones, many clasping their most treasured possessions.
Pliny the Elder (and his son, Pliny the Younger), witnessed the event from across the bay. Pliny the Elder ordered his fleet of ships to the sticken cities on a rescue mission. He would perish in the disaster. His son would write a historical record of the event.
Late that night the huge cloud of volcanic dust and debris would collapse under its own weight, resulting in six waves of pyroclastic flow that would rush down the mountain at over 100 miles per hour, baking and suffocating all who were in its path. The residence of the town of Herculaniem were closer to the volcano. They were instantly roasted alive. The people of Pompeii would also surcumb to the wave of heat, but some, hiding deep in their basements, would slowly asphyxiate as they inhaled the dust, which coated their lungs, where it mixed with their body fluids the dust turned to cement. The ash kept falling and soon the towns, villas, and civilization of the area was buried beneath 70 feet of the gray and black material. Pompeii, Herculaniem and the other towns were effectively wiped from the face of the earth.
The towns and villas eventually became a tale kept alive with local stories. Until 1755 CE, with the construction of the Sarno Canal. Workers digging the canal suddenly unearthed an entire town. But what was unearthed was more than just the town. From the skeletal remains scientist were able to determine what life was like for these long dead inhabitants. Many exhibited high levels of lead in their bones, from the pipes that provided water to the town. Others showed evidence tooth decay from an over-sweet diet, and tooth enamel worn away from stone chips in bread; chips that came from the milling stones. Those citizens who were suffocated and covered in ash became forever frozen in their final pose.
Also preserved was much of their art and written works. Mosaics can be found at various villas through the town. One, with a representation of a large dog, warnes visitors "Beware of dog", while another at the home of a merchant proudly proclaims "Profit is Joy". Bordellos have artistic representations of the services available with wall paintings above the doorway of the numerous bedrooms. The rediscovered town of Pompeii allows us to reconstruct the life style, hopes, and the desires of the thousands perished so many centuries ago.
For over 250 years, Pompeii has been a popular tourist destination. In 1997 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and attracts over 2.5 million visitors per year, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy.
In the summer, the days can be very hot, so wear a hat and sunglasses, and don't forget to be generous with the sun-screen lotion. There is much walking, so wear comfortable shoes.
Photography is allowed. However, you will need special permission from the sites Superintendents office if you intend to use tripod, flash, or artifical lighting.
You are requested to store knapsacks, backpacks and other bulky items at luggage service.
Some areas are not recommended for viewing if you have difficulty walking or other health problems.
You can take a guided tour of the site, which — depending on your tour — can take anywhere from two to four hours. If you really want to see the entire grounds it is recommended that you plan to spend the whole day at the site. Tickets, however, do not allow you to exit and re–enter the grounds, so take bottled water with you.
It is forbidden to climb on walls, smoke, and to litter. Remember that Pompeii is an active archeological site. One–third of the site still remains to be uncovered.
Do not enter buildings unless it is expressedly permitted. In 2010 the House of the Gladiators collapsed. Although the structure was not open to visitors, they were allowed to see the building from the outside. Reports suggest the cause may have been water infiltration following heavy rains.
The site is closed on January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th. The remainder of the year entrance to the site is at 8:30 AM, and it closes at 7:30 PM (April — October) or 5:00 PM (November — March).