Joanne and Brian had arrived on Monday, two days before our Pompeii trip on Valentines day.  We walked to the train station in Sorrento and took a 20 minute train to the Pompeii station.  The route took us through tunnels and high rise apartment block after block.  It reminded me of the train ride to Tokyo from Atsugi, the same concrete nondescript type of building, clothes lines, and balconys full of overflowing personal affects and citrus trees loaded with fruit.

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Pompeii, Italy 09

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Pompeii, Italy 08

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Pompeii, Italy 07

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Pompeii, Italy 06

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Pompeii, Italy 05

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Pompeii, Italy 04

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Pompeii, Italy 03

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Pompeii, Italy 01

The logistics of getting to the Pompeii musuem were easy and we had perfect warm and sunny spring weather.  Our guide was an archeologist from the Pompeii Museum and a great choice for seeing and understanding the ancient city.

We spent four hours touring and it was so interesting that time did not weigh on us and fatigue seemed not to matter until we finally sat down at a pub later in the afternoon.  The science of thermodynamics and hydrodynamics exhibited in the baths and fountains of this city can do nothing but bring the highest admiration for the achievements of the Romans.  The beauty of the frescos and mosaic floors was stunning.  The organization of society, the logical arrangement of the city, and the stability of life there over so many hundreds of years also brought a great sense of awe.  To see all of the stone and masonry shaped and decorated to form an artistic sophisticated whole with only the most rudimentary tools begged impossibility, yet it exists.

The genius of the cultures of the Mediterranean basin that fed into and culminated in the Roman empire are a strong argument in support of the admiration of Classical Western Culture and for me refute the attempt to de-emphasize the Western Cannon.  Other cultures have achieved great things, but not one of them other than Classical Chinese culture achieved so much across so many disciplines and controlled such a broad scope of territory.  To teach about other than classical culture is a good and necessary thing, but the roots of civilizations highest achievements are from Roman and Chinese Classical Civilizations, evidence is abundant and at Pompeii can be seen and walked through.  I regret that I did not study classical Greek and Roman history in greater depth.

As a postscript our cities did not achieve the same level of engineering and organization enjoyed by the Romans at the time of Pompeii until the second half of the 19th century.  Public works for dealing with water, sewage, road systems, hygiene, and civic culture were all lost for almost 1,000 years before exceeding the Roman benchmark.  It is humbling and frustrating.  How did we loose so much progress for so long.