Interesting how dreams are made. Last spring at my son's piano recital, as a young friend of ours played and sang "Pompeii," I sensed that my long-held desire to see the ruins was ready to move on deck.
I am somewhat into volcanos. To wit:
- I tend to pull the Pele card (Five of Wands) from Goddess Tarot decks.
- One of my most vivid childhood memories was visiting the hot, seething crater of Mauna Loa as a 7-year-old, and watching a log explode when a ranger kicked it in.
- The Cinderella character in my musical/novel is a sleeping volcano (her name is Ashley St. Helens and she lives among her step-family, the Hills).
- I had once worn (and written about) a Vesuvian red dress.
When I started looking at Google Earth, I grasped that Pompeii was actually a real place and that Vesuvius was an actual mountain, not just a mythical one. When I realized one could actually hike the Mount Vesuvius of myth and legend, the desire burned like, well, lava.
From above, the perfect circle of Vesuvius winks like an eye...or a giant zit. The black hole of the crater seems bottomless in its shadow, a giant anthill where chthonic gods and creatures of the imagination might crawl. The beckoning was magnetic.
But with only ten days to travel, Jenny and I had sadly scrapped the idea of going to Pompeii and Herculaneum. On our art-and-nap itinerary, it would be too much rushing around.
With Florence forsaken, however, I could still see making this pilgrimage alone.
Now if I could only figure out how. There are thousands of tours to take visitors from Rome to Pompeii in a day on heated/air conditioned busses for tourist-sized sums of Euros. On the third or fourth page of a Google search, though, I found ways to see this part of the earth independently. And even better... a way to ride a horse up the volcano.
HORSES AND VOLCANOES? What is this, a children's book written just for my inner ten-year-old?
This adventure also coincided with the lowest overnight price I could find in the area (17 Euros, about $21). Everything came together with the wonderful, welcoming people at Hostel of the Sun in Naples. I stayed downtown at Fabio's studio and caught the early train on Monday.
(<< BTW this is a Gypsy breed!)