Saturday, June 10, 2006

Mt. Vesuvius

The thing that mostly impressed me during this trip to Italy was being so close to Mt. Vesuvius. It is one of the most dangerous volcanoes of the world and its last eruptive cycle lasted from 1913 to 1944. Right now, it seems to be having a "quiet time". Thanks to the gods.

The image on the right I got from the Discovery website and their documentary "Pompeii: The Last Day". Worth checking it for more details on the history of the site.

I have selected it because I think the image does capture very well what the image of the volcano conveyed to me while driving through Naples. Three words, simply: beautiful, imposing, intimidating.

You drive through it to/from the Aiport on the way to Amalfi. All you can see is the volcano, quitely watching the towns at its foothills. And it's a bit of a shock. It's still active, of course, and there is a whole world living underneath its shadow, towns and people, life just going on. Brava gente, I would say. Of course people cannot think about what may or may not happen there. I think it's touching and courageous at the same time. It makes me admire them even more.

I remember the Vesuvius from my chilhood: watching pictures from Pompeii and Ercolano. I could never forget the photographs of those bodies, like macabre pictures taken at the moment of their (apparently) painful, agonising deaths. Actually, these people were enveloped in some few seconds, dying instantaneously from either the heat and/or gas poisoning. I remember there was a picture of a dog laying dead. And several people. I could never forget that. However those were not actual bodies, of course, but plaster casts made by pouring the plaster into the hollows left by the actual bodies (now long decomposed of course). At any rate, it was shocking to have those images captured somehow.

But there is a fun way to remember Mt. Vesuvius too. And that's the crazy witch duck Magica DeSpell! I had great fun reading the Disney magazines and Magica and Donald Duck's adventures were my favourites. Magica is a "sexy" duck villainess (a bit like Sophia Loren maybe) who tirelessly tries to steal Uncle Scrooge's "first dime". Guess where she lives? Righto! In the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius! Although sometimes she spends time in her house at Ducksburg, closer to Scrooge's, of course... Her name in Portuguese is "Maga Patalógica", and her inseparable friend was Mad Madam Mim ("Madame Min"). As far as I can remember, she wanted to get the dime and throw it into the Vesuvius for some crazy, magical purpose, a bit like a twisted version of Frodo and the One Ring! (Or maybe I am just mixing things, he he!). Of course, while driving in that region, I thought of her too! Not only the serious stuff...

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