italy

Tuscan Villa

I found this lovely Italian villa in Langebaan of all places when out on a training run. One of the great things about running is that you see so much more of the world around you, so when I finished my run I grabben my camera and went straight out to take this shot.

I still find it a little strange seing such an Italin looking house in the middle of the west-coast fishing village of Langebaan.

Tuscan Villa in Langebaan

The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum was the commercial hub of the ancient Roman world. This was where you would go to do anything from buying a few pigs, to visiting the Senate House to file a legal document. This is where the center of Roman Law was debated, and where citizens could petition Caesar.

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The Forum was also the home of many temples paying homage to the various gods, and where the famous Vestal Virgins kept their eternal flame burning (of course they were beaten if they let it go out!).

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It is also where Julius Caesar was killed, the spot is marked by a small grave, and to this day is covered with notes and flowers.

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Trevi Fountain, Rome

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The famous Trevi Fountain in Rome. Although the fountain is really beautiful, this is the part of Rome that made me feel most uncomfortable. There were hordes of people in a rather confined area, and far to many shady vendors walking around. It just felt like a ripe place for some pick-pocketing.

Having said all that, we didn’t have any problems. The fountain is very beautiful, made up of water gushing over wonderfully carved marble statues and figures, creating both a soothing and cooling effect.

The popular story has it that if you throw a coin into the fountain, your return to Rome is assured. Although I did not throw a coin into the fountain, I certainly plan to be go back to Rome.

The Colleseum, Rome

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This was a remarkable building to visit. Even tough I have seen it many times in books and magazines, seeing it in for real was a remarkable experience. The sheer scale of it was staggering. It soared into the sky, far above my head.

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This is where the citizens of Rome watched the gladiators fight each other to death, kill exotic animals, and slaves would try to win their freedom.

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Despite popular belief, it was not where Christians were fed to the lions.

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And to think that it was build almost 2000 years ago, and is still (at least mostly) standing is inspiring. I also realised that it will be there long after I am not.

A day in Pompeii

Firstly a warning: the train station in Napoli has three planform three’s. Yes that is correct; different platforms serving different lines, but with the same number. We figured this out the hard way.

Having said that, the trip from Napels to Pompeii is about 45 minutes, and only costs about 5 Euros return.

Ok, now to Pompeii. It is a wonderful place to visit. The street are almost 2000 years old, and the preservation in some of the buildings is staggering condidering the age, the volcanic eruption they faced, as well as the prior earthquake. It is sobering to walk the streets that Roman citizens walked just after Julius Caesar was emperor of Rome.

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Temple

While the ruins are very well maintained, you need to consider the age of the roads and pavements, so you are going to both walk and get very tired legs. In some aspects it is more like walking up a mountain than walking through a town.the pavements are very uneven, but the walking is well worth it.

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Arch

The preservation is staggering. The Romans made buildings to last 2000 years, whereas in some places in South Africa we can barely manage to make houses last for more than a few months (but I digress).

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Water arch

This arch is interesting in that it held water in the top of the arch. This was used to increase the water pressure in the city; much like the tall water towers we use today in cities.

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Take out

This was a take out restaurant; the marble slabs would have been the food preparation and serving counters.

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A typical road in Pompeii

A day is more than enough to plan for a trip from Naples to Pompeii (even from Rome if you plan for a long day). We spent about 5 hours there. While we could have been there for longer, we felt that we had seen plenty. Don’t be deceived by the walking distances in the city; remember that it was a city for 2000 citizens, and probably even more if you included the slaves. It is a big place!

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The Great Theatre, Pompeii

This theatre is the mid-sized theatre in Pompeii, holding about 5000 people. The small theatre can only hold a few hundred, while the amphitheatre could hold the entire city of 20000 people.

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A (reasonably) modern church poking out behind the ruins of Pompeii

I have crossed Pompeii off my list, but yes I would love to go back in a year or so.

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