Trip Start Nov 09, 2012
Trip End Nov 25, 2012

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Flag of Italy  , Campania,
Friday, November 23, 2012

Pompeii always gets me. You can walk down street after deserted street of houses. The fountains still work and there is water spilling out of the stone mouth. Stray dogs roam the streets that used to be filled with horses and people. After the eruption the emperor had most of the cities in the path of Vesuvius rebuilt. But Pompeii was a lost cause. It was so completely buried in ash the local people even forgot it was there in a few generations.
There were restaurants and brothels, temples and schools. And people.
In the morning of the eruption there was a little ash and by dinnertime it was all over. Around 2,000 of the 15,000 inhabitants died. You can see the plaster casts of them when they were perfectly covered in ash. Moms with kids laying beside them, men tucked in fetal position, families laying in clumps where they fell thousands of years ago. These people were real.
Eden loved to play house in this expansive ghost town. Honestly I think she is a little starved for play time. We pretended to make dinner in one of the houses and went out to eat at the restaurant. She even had us recreate her Kindergarten rug time in the school. Something about these recreations were even more powerful than the plaster casts.

I know I'm mortal. Likely I've thought about death more than your average 30 year old. But seeing Pompeii is like seeing memento mori for an entire civilization. Not only will we die but at some point everything we have done will cease to matter. It reminds me of a CS Lewis quote "Nations, cultures, civilizations--these are mortals and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals we work with, joke with, marry, snub, love and exploit" Kind of puts in all in perspective.

Eden is a Celebrity
I have seen fewer than twenty children in the three days I have been in Italy. Granted most sensible parents wouldn't take their kids on the metro (Eden please don't lick the bar") or to art exhibits (Sam knows all of the Italian words for be quiet and go more slowly). I know Italy like everywhere in Europe, has a decreasing population but the rarity of kids here is still almost eire.
Eden is a pretty cute kid to begin with. Couple this with the ridiculously huge bows I put in her hair and she is simply irresistible. Everywhere we go people pat her head, ofer her their seat on the metro, and give her candy. As a parent this is the best kind of flattery. And it underscores to me the importance of children. Every pat or smile is propelled by a deep biological need for a community to preserver. We love children because we need them for longer than they need us.

Train Rides
To do Pomeii as a day trip from Rome is a little tricky. To do it with two small kids in tow requires a touch of insanity. But I was determined that my kids see old stuff that they could play in. So we got up early, poured food into them and got on the train. There was the metro and the commuter train and then a private train.
I came to Italy 15 years ago. Rome was different then. People weren't so stylish and men had far more gold chains. As we drove south I saw the Rome of my youth returning. Graffiti at every stop, loud conversations over the heads of mashed together train riders, women with way too much make up...ah this is Italy. It was good to be back.
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