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Lessons from Pompeii – Italy Segreta

“What does it feel like to live next to something that could explode at any moment?,” my buddy requested me. I’m Apulian by origin, however Neapolitan by adoption: I selected to reside in Naples, conscious of how candy and bitter the town is on the similar time. When I used to be now not content material with that, or maybe simply to take a danger, I moved to a small city east of the chaotic metropolis, proper on the foot of Vesuvius. I benefit from the marvelous view I’m extremely fortunate to have from the terrace of my home, and even when typically I feel it’s loopy to be right here, I don’t care. I ponder if the inhabitants of Pompeii would have made the identical comment if that they had solely identified that Vesuvius was not simply any mountain, however a volcano.

Yes, the Pompeians had no information of dwelling subsequent to a time bomb. They thought it was only a mountain. They grew vines, let their flocks graze there, and went looking. The occasional earthquakes that occurred had been definitely not attributed to the longer term eruption that may destroy and bury them for nearly 1,500 years. Pliny the Younger, a noble Roman patrician, is the one individual to supply an eyewitness account of the occasion. After witnessing the eruption from the Gulf of Naples on the dwelling of his uncle Pliny the Elder (who later misplaced his life in an try and rescue Pompeiians from the coast), he wrote to his buddy Tacitus about what occurred: 

Una nube si levava in alto, ed period di story forma ed aspetto da non poter essere paragonata a nessun albero meglio che a un pino. Infatti, drizzandosi come su un tronco altissimo, si allargava poi in una specie di ramificazione; e questo perché, suppongo io, sollevata dal vento proprio nel tempo in cui essa si formava, poi, al cedere del vento, abbandonata a sé o vinta dal suo stesso peso, si diffondeva ampiamente per l’aria dissolvendosi a poco a poco, ora candida, ora sordida e macchiata, secondo che portasse con sé terra o cenere. –Epistula VI 16

[A cloud arose overhead, and was of such form and appearance that it could not be compared to any tree better than to a pine. For, rising as it did upon a very high trunk, it spread out into a kind of branching; and this, I suppose, because it was lifted up by the wind at the very time it was formed, and then, when the wind gave way, left to itself or overcome by its own weight, it spread widely through the air, dissolving little by little, now white, now sordid and stained, according as it carried soil or ashes with it]. –Fuga da Pompei (Daniella Morelli)  

Surely it will need to have been each an exquisite and horrible sight, as we are able to perceive from his phrases. Pliny the Younger referred to as Pompeii “the most living of dead cities”. Why? Visiting the ruins of the town, one doesn’t have the impression of strolling in a ghost city, however of visiting a spot that’s alive and vivid, albeit crystallised in time and untouched by the years. The nature of the eruption of 79 A.D. was of such violence and velocity that Pompeii couldn’t defend itself, couldn’t insurgent, and so all the pieces that was there remained intact, ready. One of essentially the most unbelievable points of the town is its colors: regardless of being buried beneath tens of metres of ash and pumice for hundreds of years (a typical false impression is that the reason for Pompeii’s demise was lava, however this magma by no means reached the town), its dwellings retain the cheerfulness and joviality of the previous. The historical metropolis has even given its title to some of the stunning shades of purple on the earth–the so-called Pompeian purple. The color of the partitions of the noble homes, Pompeian purple is an inorganic pigment composed of iron oxide and is instantly recognizable by its deep, sensual tones. A byproduct of the cinnabar trade, the color was costly to supply and was used solely to adorn the properties of patricians, a few of which might nonetheless be visited immediately, bearing witness to the grandeur and sweetness with which its house owners had been surrounded. (Since cinnabar comprises appreciable quantities of mercury, the color was regularly changed by vermilion, purple ochre, Mars purple and Pozzuoli purple. The latter two are mixtures of iron oxides and hydroxides.)

The Hall of the Triclinium of the Villa of the Mysteries, for instance, has frescoes which are nonetheless virtually excellent, revealing unequalled inventive expertise. Divided into 9 totally different scenes, the fresco, which runs the size of the wall, represents the levels of a bride’s preparation for her marriage ceremony or–a extra seductive speculation–the initiation of a younger girl into thriller rites of Dionysus. This clever experience disappeared with the collapse of the Roman Empire and it wasn’t till the Renaissance that we returned to this historical splendour. How unusual wouldn’t it be for us “modern” individuals to reside in homes with colored partitions, embellished with photos and human figures telling each actual and imagined tales? What have we misplaced over time and why have we disadvantaged ourselves of this magnificence that was so apparent on the time?

Of course, it should be famous that such artworks had been nearly at all times unique to the rich, simply as immediately’s millionaires reside surrounded by work, statues and antiques. However, anybody who has visited the ruins of Pompeii is aware of what I’m speaking about: that feeling of misplaced magnificence, which is felt in each nook of the town however has slipped by our fingers. It’s like a visitor accompanying us on our journey, whispering, “Look how beautiful I was. Look how unlucky I was. All is not lost, because time has preserved me.” This feeling is what Pliny the Younger refers to when he describes Pompeii as “the most living of dead cities”: delicate and ruined although it’s, it’s not with out soul. Incidentally, the town has not but totally emerged from its hibernation: there are nonetheless hectares and hectares of hidden wonders ready to be unearthed.

Also of nice significance are the ruins of Herculaneum, a metropolis hit shortly after Pompeii, and the archaeological excavations at Stabia and Oplontis. There are two iconic domus within the latter two places (Villa San Marco and Villa di Poppea, respectively) which offer glorious examples of the pomp, wealth, and refined style of the highly effective individuals of that point. We usually hear that the mastery of the previous can by no means be equaled once more; visiting such wealthy and majestic websites does make one assume that these phrases are true. So, what do Pompeii and its tragic finish train us? Somehow it means that we must always seize the second and rejoice within the richness of the current, with out letting ourselves be taken in by concern of the longer term, which might disguise risks that we are going to by no means have the ability to foresee. After a number of visits to Pompeii and my time dwelling on the foot of Vesuvius, I’ve realized that it’s unimaginable to come back to phrases with magnificence and the transience of time. I select to remain in a spot steeped in historical past: it might be difficult and chaotic, however it’s stuffed with inspiration, breathtaking views, and vitality. And maybe that is what fascinates me about Pompeii: I can expertise an period that has all however disappeared. Only within the ruins of this metropolis, in these 44 sq. kilometres of UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997, does this historical magnificence proudly endure.

 

“Qui su l’arida schiena
Del formidabil monte
Sterminator Vesevo,
La qual null’altro allegra arbor nè fiore,
Tuoi cespi solitari intorno spargi,
Odorata ginestra”.

Giacomo Leopardi

Uno degli aspetti più incredibili della città sono i suoi colori: nonostante siano state sepolte sotto decine di metri di cenere e pomice per migliaia di anni (errore comune è pensare che la causa della wonderful di Pompei sia stata lava, ma questa non arrivò mai in città) le sue dimore conservano l’allegria e la giovialità del passato, tanto allegra e tanto gioviale che ha persino regalato il nome a una delle tonalità di rosso più belle al mondo, il cosiddetto rosso “pompeiano”. È il colore delle pareti delle case nobili, un pigmento inorganico composto da ossido di ferro, immediatamente riconoscibile dalle sue tonalità profonde, sensuali. Adornava le dimore dei patrizi e in alcune di queste, visitabili tutt’oggi, testimonia la grandezza e la bellezza di cui erano circondati i suoi proprietari.

Si resta attoniti nel visitare la Sala del Triclinio di Villa dei Misteri advert esempio, i cui affreschi sono praticamente perfetti, immersi in uno sfondo rosso che lascia emergere una perizia artistica inarrivabile. Il crollo dell’Impero Romano infatti inghiottirà tali perizie e dovremo attendere l’arrivo del Rinascimento per poter tornare a quegli antichi fasti.

Quanto sarebbe strano per noi, uomini “moderni”, vivere in una casa con le pareti colorate, abbellite da immagini e determine umane che raccontano delle storie, delle trame fantasiose e reali? Cosa abbiamo perso nel corso del tempo e perché ci siamo privati di quella bellezza tanto scontata all’epoca?

Bisogna dire che tali opere d’arte erano quasi appannaggio esclusivo dei facoltosi, come oggi i milionari vivono circondati da dipinti, statue e pezzi d’antiquariato, ma chi ha visitato gli scavi di Pompei sa di cosa parlo: quella sensazione di bellezza perduta, che ci è scivolata dalle dita e che si percepisce in ogni angolo della città, pare un ospite che ci accompagna nel cammino, che ci sussurra “guarda com’ero bella, guarda quanto sono stata sfortunata, ma non tutto è perduto perché il tempo mi ha preservata.

È a questo che si riferisce Plinio il Giovane quando descrive Pompei come “la più viva delle città morte”: per quanto sia delicata e in rovina, non è però priva d’anima. Tra l’altro non è ancora emersa del tutto, restano nascosti ancora ettari ed ettari di meraviglie in attesa di essere riportate alla luce.

Di notevole importanza sono anche le rovine di Ercolano, città colpita poco dopo Pompei, e gli scavi archeologici di Stabia e Oplontis. Due le domus simbolo di queste ultime località, rispettivamente Villa San Marco e la Villa di Poppea, esempi dello sfarzo, della ricchezza e del gusto sopraffino dei potenti dell’epoca. Spesso si sente dire che la maestria del passato non si potrà eguagliare mai più e visitando siti tanto ricchi e maestosi fa davvero pensare che queste parole abbiano un fondo di verità.

Cosa ci hanno trasmetto Pompei e la sua tragica wonderful? In qualche modo ci suggerisce di cogliere l’attimo, di gioire della ricchezza del presente, senza lasciarsi prendere dalla paura del futuro che può nascondere dei pericoli che non possiamo prevedere.

Dopo aver visitato Pompeii più volte, ed aver vissuto ai piedi del Vesuvio ho capito che è impossibile fare i conti con la bellezza e la caducità del tempo. Ho scelto di vivere in un luogo ricco di storia: può essere complicato e caotico ma è ricco di ispirazione, panorami mozzafiato e vitalità.

Forse è questo ciò che mi affascina: posso vivere ancora una volta un’epoca ormai scomparsa. Solo nelle rovine della città, in quei 44 chilometri quadrati patrimonio mondiale UNESCO dal 1997, questa antica bellezza perdura orgogliosamente.

“Qui su l’arida schiena
Del formidabil monte
Sterminator Vesevo,
La qual null’altro allegra arbor nè fiore,
Tuoi cespi solitari intorno spargi,
Odorata ginestra”.

Giacomo Leopardi

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