By Rosario Mariani, http://www.europebychoice.com
Vesuvius, Pompeii, Herculaneum and the festival of Vulcanalia
Every August 23, an annual festival of Vulcanalia was held in Roman times to celebrate and honor Vulcan, the god of fire, which was both beneficial and a hindrance to mankind. The holiday occurred during the harvest season, and all celebrations were conducted outside the city limits in order to avoid any harm to the area.
People prayed for protection against the destructive forces of Vulcan, but also celebrated the harvest and the all good things came along with it. As usual the festivities went very well on August 23, 79AD, but just one day after the celebration, Mount Vesuvius responded fiercely by erupting.
In early morning, a cloud of ash and pumice 12 miles high shot from the central cone. Midday became like midnight as the city of Pompeii, just 5 miles from the volcano, was covered with six inches of ash and pumice within the first hour.
Herculaneum was even closer to the mountain, but being upwind of the volcano it was covered with a light coating of ash. Around midnight, the column from the volcano collapsed and the mountainside was filled with a glowing avalanche of boiling gases, pumice and rocks which flowed over Herculaneum burying the city under 65 feet of hot volcanic matter. The town was sealed as if a layer of concrete had been poured over it.
On your next visit to Pompeii, visit the ruins and reflect on the destructive forces that took place 1936 years ago, but also remember that this area became the most fertile land in all of Italy as well.
Did you Know?
In 1499, the Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojedo, led an expedition along the Caribbean coast of South America, and his navigator, Amerigo Vespucci, observed that many Indian huts were built on stilts over water. This reminded him of Venice so he called the area Veneziola, a little Venice which later became Venezuela.
Rosario Mariani is the owner/CEO of Europe By Choice, which promotes travel to Italy and other select European countries. He has more than 40 years of experience in the travel industry, previously serving as Director of Italy Product for Italiatour and Club ABC Tours, and also in other positions with EuroFly, Alitalia and Air France.