Procida lies low in the Gulf of Naples, much like a snoozing crocodile–immobile, so that one barely notices it. From the air, it looks like a Scotty dog.
Nothing could prepare me for the strange experience of being on top of Mount Vesuvius at night. Of course it was not just any night, but August 10, an evening in which the sky was filled with shooting stars dedicated to Saint Lawrence, (La Notte di San Lorenzo).
As we pulled around the castello we could see Procida, Vivara and the whole Gulf of Napoli from a different perspective. Most impressive was Vesuvius which looked like it was rising in all its majesty right out of the water. Breathtaking is the only way to describe it.
If I told you there was a place near Naples where elephants, leopards and hippopotamuses once roamed, would you believe me? Well, these exotic animals lived happily and thrived, guess where? On Capri. How they got there is of course, a geologic story.
While waters have been used for therapeutic purposes for millennia, the question we, in our modern world must ask is “Do those waters actually have any real therapeutic benefits, or is any benefit, perceived or real, the result of a placebo effect?”
We are not the only ones seeking youth. In fact, the idea of a fountain of youth has always roused man’s imagination, even in ancient times. And guess what? Ancient man found it. And guess what? It was volcanic. And guess where it was? Ischia.
The non-stop volcanic activity transformed Ischia into a geologic wonderland. Whether it was the birth of a new volcano where a peaceful bay once lay, lava and cinders exploding out of fiery craters, gases hissing out of vents, or the entire island being submerged and then violently pushed up out of the sea.
It was also a colicky baby: bubbling, boiling, churning and spewing. And then, when all this turbulent activity stopped in 1302, it calmed down, became lush and fertile, the thermal waters and mud gently bubbled up from the ground and the island was transformed into paradise.
The Vulcanalia was the annual festival held in the Roman religion to honor Vulcan (Latin: Vulcanus), the god of both beneficial and hindering fire, particularly in its destructive aspects as volcanoes or conflagrations.
Amidst this chaos, something strange happened at Pompeii on the morning of the 25th. The rain of pumice which had battered the city for 18 hours became much less intense.