Ferrara, Italy - July 28, 2010
I am now in northern Italy, in the flats between the Apennines and the Alps. Back into the heat as well, although not as bad as I have seen in the past... or maybe I'm just getting use to it a bit.
A "GPS" Road Through Farm Country
This is the first internet connection I have had since the last email out to you and so I am a bit behind even in answering the emails I have received. And as this is my most $$$ connection so far, it may be brief.
Since my last note, I came across the mountains and went to Pompeii. Pretty fascinating place, wandering around the streets and walking through the houses. Most of the second floors and roofs are gone from the final pyroclastic flow, although a few still remain such as in the baths. Lots of frescoes are still visible, although the very best or most significant have been removed and are in the museum in Naples. Not much in the way of artifacts either, again most of what was found is in the museum. But I spent the day. Always wanted to go, and now I have. I found a pretty good hotel about a block from the entrance and so was able to leave the bike parked for a while. I was going to head out the next day but woke up feeling pretty crummy and so figured I'd spend the day in bed, but after ten minutes of that, figured that was a waste of time, and so took the train and subway into central Naples to visit the museum. That was incredible. It's pretty sad to see people's everyday stuff and prized possessions there, knowing that they were all being used one day by folks and that in all likelihood, they were all dead the next. Pots, pans, furniture, mirrors, small glass bottles, food... just everything they would use. Some glass was in perfect condition, some melted from the heat. And the frescoes in the museum were wonderful. Family portraits, landscapes, scenes from mythology. Just excellent. While it was pretty moving, in a way, their final end did make them live as without the eruption, much of what was known about them would have been dispersed and lost. In the town so much is preserved. Even graffiti, campaign slogans and apartment for rent notices remain scrawled on the walls. Well worth the effort to see it.
Main Street of Pompeii
The Forum and Vesuvius
The "Thumbsucker" in the Excavation Warehouse
Inside the Baths
Eventually, I headed north up the spine of Italy, not really heading for any place special. Roads don't really run north-south along the crest and so I've had to jump back and forth to make any headway. The GPS has once again taken me some funky ways, like up some overgrown one-lane broken concrete tracks for miles. But it has always worked out although sometimes I've looked at where it wants me to go and decided to pass and just headed off in another and let it sort it out.
Just by accident, however, I went through the town of L'Aquila. At first I thought that they were doing a lot of roadwork, then noticed scaffolding around an awful lot of buildings. Then started seeing that a lot of buildings had their structure exposed and realized that the town had in the recent past experienced an earthquake. Once I started looking, I could see signs of it everywhere. Walls cracked, buckled, cornices missing, empty lots, etc. Anyway, I checked the internet tonight and see that it had experienced a 6.3 in April of 2009 and that 90 people had died. Yikes. They have a long way to go for sure to get the town back in shape. I should have stayed there. They could probably use the business.
Along the Appenines
Other than that, just beautiful drives through the mountains. Not of the high, craggy variety but more like a small version of the Appalachians. Deep, dark forests none the less. I like those. Got a hornet down the neck of my jacket, however. Stung me once on the collar bone, and as I tried to squash it, it fell down into my shirt and proceeded to sting me multiple times on the chest and stomach before I could finally get the bike stopped off the road and rip my jacket off. I guess they don't have a barbed stinger and so one can get you multiple times. The lumps are starting to go down now, but I was quite deformed for a while. I looked like the guy from the original Alien movie, just before the alien erupted from his chest. All bumpy and knarly.
But off tomorrow for the top of Lago di Garda, a place that Niels told me had some good camping. Unfortunately the forecast is not for all that good, and there is a large low pressure over the Alps bringing rain. I'll wait it out somewhere if I have to. The Alps are on my list of places yet to visit on the bike. From there, will have to see how the time goes.
Back to the battle tomorrow. Diane doesn't want to hear about the drivers and so let's just say... “Now where did I put that sword...” Or better yet, “Where did I put that bazooka...”