Rome is a city of incredible domes. The earliest masonry dome made of stone was the Pantheon and it is one of the best preserved of all Ancient Roman buildings. The Vatican dome is recognized world wide as it dominates the skyline. These religious and historical structures of amazing engineering feats, stir the metaphorical and literal response of ascension. Often, when people are in the midst of greatness, there tends to be silence while trying to take it all in. From an immovable structure, I felt a type of movement as my eye followed the flow from the arches and around the dome with seemingly no beginning or end. In the midst of enormity, there was a type of calming intimacy from being totally surrounded by and connected to beautiful artwork of heavenly visions…and again, in that silence, I wonder and question. How were these works of art ever created? Perspective, height, vision, tools, agility???? Lillian Smith said, “When you stop learning, stop listening, stop looking and asking questions, always new questions, then it is time to die.” I want to live forever!
Years ago, I can remember being totally mesmerized when I heard the story of molten volcanic ash enveloping an entire city and its inhabitants. Approximately 2000 people living life were now preserved in their final moments for the ages. Mothers and fathers sitting at a table, little ones sleeping…these acts became their last on August 24, 79 A.D. EyeWitness To History.com relates an ancient voice from the past that reaches through time to relate these horrific events. The ash grew to be 16 feet and a once flourishing resort for the rich and famous of Rome with marketplaces, brothels, taverns, bathhouses and a 20,000 seat arena was totally silenced until 1748. The archaeologists found buildings intact, skeletons frozen in time, art and artifacts of every day life. Today, Pompeii draws thousands of tourists. One must past through about 15-20 vendors lining the entrance selling bottles of lemoncello, cameos carved from shells which may or may not be authentic and of course row after row of the famous winged penis which was the city symbol (who knew)! There was no McDonald’s in site though!! Despite all of the tourist trappings, every time I walk through Pompeii, it is truly one of those “pinch me now” moments. I wander through the homes, seeing mosaics and frescoes which are erotic and beautiful still visible after thousands of years. It is a bit surreal to come upon the few frozen remains still on display… the people who were so compelling to me years before. Many of the artifacts have been moved to the National Archaeological Museum in Naples and is so deserving of a visit. It is said that a third of the city still remains covered. In just a span of 4 years, I saw graves carved into stone that had just been unearthed. It continually gives me a reason to return so the story I heard sitting in a classroom may take on new layers of richness and intrigue.