OK, how about if I just forget Vittoria? This relationship isn’t ever going to go anywhere, and I’ve been wasting my time with it. I’ve got an idea. To get her out of my mind, I’ll write a book about the truly fascinating landmarks and historical stuff in this part of the world. A travel book. Yes, that’s it.
Vesuvius! A good place to start.
Lots and lots of famous people have written about this volcano, beginning with the well-known account by Pliny the Younger of the huge eruption in 79 AD that buried Pompeii and Herculaneum. When things cooled down somewhat, Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe came along. Then Lord Byron. Then Keats. Mark Twain. And moi.
It’s a LONG way up, folks. When you start, an old couple by the entrance gate distrubute cane poles. You think, wow, isn’t that considerate? (But then a couple hours later, when you come back down all covered with sweat darkened with volcanic ash, those two old crones expect you to pay them a couple Euros, otherwise they won’t let you out.)
After your long, exhausting hike up those narrow switchbacks to the summit, why, what a surprise! There’s actually a gift shop that has post cards and jewelry made of crystallized black lava, and sunglasses and straw hats. And a tiny three-seat café that serves a surprisingly decent espresso.
You can’t help but love this place.
Now, please board the bus for the next stop on our itineary. Grazie.