And why did we have a snowman? Because of a trend of extremely cold weather meant that not only did Rome have snow for the first time since 1986, but the top of Vesuvius, yes that volcano, was covered in it. And when you are near a volcano and you are traveling with an 11-year-old boy and a man who has a yin for getting to the highest spot, then you are going to attempt to see it up close. So we did, in our Opel stationwagon. We got as far as the two people aboard the motorcycle in front of us, at the point where the snow on the road started to really stick and things got slippery. That’s when we pulled off the road and did what every other Italian was doing – scraping snow off the ground and attempting to make a snowman on the hood of the car.
With careful driving down the very curvy road, we managed to get all the way into traffic in Naples before Anders forgot about our newest 4th passenger, Vesuvio, and switched on the windscreen wipers to clear the light rain that had started to fall.
The attempted summit of Vesuius was the natural completition of our trip to Pompeii. At first Hans didn’t want to visit Pompeii, for fear that the volcano could suddenly wake up and entomb us. We had to repeatedly explain that nowadays seismologists understand when a volcano is waking up, and we are in no danger of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
We took the train from Sorrento and spent the day walking through Pompeii with a fantastic audio tour. It really is mind-bending to think that this city, 2000 years old, has rooms where the color on the walls, or the mosaics on the floor (which basically says “beware of dog” here), look as if they were painted yesterday. We walked around for close to 4 hours.