IN INTERNET IMPAIRED TUSCANY

[I’m going to post a series of posts from the first internet cafe I’ve found in Tuscany. These were written over the past several days]

We finally made it to Tuscany, where we’ll spend three weeks in a lovely villa near the town of Seggiano. Where’s Seggiano? Let’s consult the Papal map!

As you can see, it’s found in the ancient region of Etruria, the land which dominated Italy before the Romans came to power. But it’s still a bit difficult to make out on this large map. How about if we zoom in a bit?

You can now see it (spelled all Papal style as “Segoiano”) quite clearly in the lower-right corner of the photo. In the upper-left, about 50 kilometers away, is Siena (Florence is another 70 or so kilometers farther north). The famous wine-producing towns of Montepulciano and Montalcino are also nearby (though either Montalcino wasn’t in the Pope’s favor when this map was made, or it was not yet even a twinkle in Brunello’s eye back then). Montepulciano is on the right side of the map, near the top, and Montalcino would be in the middle of the map, near the bottom, a bit north of where you might just be able to make out “Angelo.”

(The map is in the Hall of Maps in the Vatican Museum in Rome, but Greta took a photo of it when we were there for just this occasion).

We’ve been out of internet range for a few days now (and in fact I have no idea when I’ll be able to post this), so let me get you caught up on what we’ve been up to.

After leaving Rome, we headed south for Pompeii. We were a bit concerned about this leg of the trip, since Pompeii is just outside of Naples, and Naples is currently experiencing a rather stinky problem: they’ve run out of landfill space, and the surrounding communities have stopped letting them pile their trash in their own shrinking landfill space. So the garbage has been piling up in the streets for several weeks now. The original plan had been to say in Naples and make a day trip out to Pompeii, but we had to modify that and stay in Pompeii proper.

The modern-day city of Pompeii is a bit run-down. It doesn’t have much in the way of hotels and restaurants other than those built to house visitors to its famous ancient ruins. I get the sense that it’s mainly a sort of bedroom community for Naples. But we did find a place, next to the noisy main road into town, that seemed comfortable enough (other than the noise). Apparently this time of year they don’t normally offer clients the luxury of air conditioning, but they took pity on us (it was a very warm day) and handed over the remote.

On to the ruins.

In a word, spectacular. They are vast, and many of the buildings and artworks within are extremely well-preserved. Unfortunately my camera’s batteries expired, so I didn’t get many pictures. Greta did a much better job:

Here me and Nora pretend to consult the map of the ruins for the benefit of the photographer.

It’s difficult to appreciate the vastness of this array of ruins, but this picture does a pretty good job:

In the background, you can see some of Vesuvius, which looks even more foreboding (postboding?) in this picture:

It was a sweltering day, and after three hours in the ruins, we were glad to get back to our air-conditioned hotel room. Jim was even happier when the restaurant serving us dinner gave him the largest bottle of Coke any of us had ever seen:

Now that’s refreshing!

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