I am so grateful to have visited Italy – it really is one of the most beautiful places. My favourite parts of Italy are around Naples on the coast.
Growing up I also was fascinated by history, in particular ancient history. I had studied Herculaneum and Pompeii at school and when I finally got to visit them I was blown away. Walking down the streets that people walked thousands of years ago, is very humbling, as well as insightful.
I went to Pompeii many many years ago with family, but in 2012 I got to go back to that part of the world and visited Herculaneuem. It was preserved in a different way to Pompeii. Pompeii was buried in mainly ash, whereas Herculaneum was destroyed by a pyroclastic flow – which preserved wood and organic materials much better. In the picture below you can see the beams in the building – these are black because of the intense heat they were exposed to and were preserved because of the nature of the pyroclastic flow!
One of the most fascinating things about both visits was learning more about the way they lived. There are a vast amount of similarities between how the Ancient Romans lived and how we live. They had strong business and entrepreneurial skills, and had different levels of class. There were wealthy people and very poor people. They looked after themselves with water and by going to the baths. Entertainment in the form of gladiators and theatre at the amphitheatre were popular but after the sun went down the streets weren’t always safe and so with no lighting people often went to bed early by our standards.
One of my favourite similarities is their love of food. Kitchens were few and far between and reserved mainly for the wealthy homes. The vast majority of people purchased their foods from the Roman version of take away restaurants – called thermopolia. Here is a picture of one of the fast food restaurants that I saw in Herculaneum.
These were mainly used by the poorer people and were sometimes looked down on by the richer members of the community.
Food was a key component of Ancient Roman life, as it is today. One of the things I love most about Italy, apart from the history and the sights, is the food. I love pizza – but until you have had it from a small cafe on the street in Naples – with fresh dough and mozzarella you really haven’t lived. It makes all other pizza seem inferior!
There are also some wonderful Italian wine regions to which produce great wine to accompany your meals, and of course, olives are served with many things, because they are grown locally and are delicious.
After your pizza – you have to finish it off with some Italian Gelato – I mean, it has to be done.
Again, it will be the greatest ice cream or dessert you ever have. Made with fresh, local ingredients, it’s no wonder the Italians love their food.
I am itching to get back to Italy and see more of the beautiful sights, as well as sample some more food. On my next trip I would love to do a food or factory tour, perhaps like one of the ones by emiliadelizia.com and see the making of these products. I’d love to maybe even try a cookery tour so I can learn how to recreate the wonderful foods I’ve sampled when I am back at home. So many things to look forward to on my next trip to Italy – I’d better get saving!