Staying with Eddie and Laura in Pozzuoli, a town that’s a half hour northwest of Napoli, through tunnels by train or bus. On Friday we spent a lazy day wandering around, checking out the ubiquituous ruins that are everywhere here in this part of the world. First we got some food and had an impromptu picnic on the waterfront a short distance from where they live. The house we’re staying in is in the distance following the curve of the cement pier. You can’t tell from this photo, but the whole coast is just trashed, covered in rubbish. Someone set some of it on fire a short while after this photo, and a nasty black billowy cloud threatened us briefly but then dissipated.

After our bucolic lunch (the sea is great even if not very clean or inviting), we walked to the older part of Pozzuoli, a town that has suffered from “Bradeyism”, the ebb and flow of a volcanic caldera that thrusts the surface up and down depending on gases and other volcanic activity below. So there’s a whole detailed story of how the city was evacuated in the 1980s and then squatted by north African immigrants, who were in turn evicted, and now the town is struggling to make itself into more of a tourist destination. But in decades past this area was apparently something of a bastion of working class politics. Here are two monuments, one by local anarchists who decided to take graffiti to another level and planted this huge stone in front of one of the oldest local ruins. The other to fallen workers sits above the the lower town where we’re staying.

(translation: It is absolutely important for the future that people, all humanity, lose their sheepish habits, acquired by millenia of slavery, and be inspired to learn, think and act freely. ” the anarchists)

Here’s a major ruin that has risen and fallen several times, most recently inundated by winter rains.

We then wandered up to the old Roman Amphitheater, which is being slowly restored. Here are several shots from above and below. This is one that used to get filled with water to stage faux naval battles between gladiators. There are always many rooms beneath these structures where animals were kept before being hurled into battle for the entertainment of the crowds above.

Perhaps the oddest part of being here is when you realize how many layers of history you’re always standing on. Daily life is permeated with ruins, shadows, hints, ghosts, and references to lives and cultures past. This last shot in Pozzuoli shows some columns of an old Roman structure that are just sort of ‘hanging around’ amidst a bunch of 20th century buildings. In my next blog entry on Mt. Vesuvius and Herculaneum I’ll talk a bit more about how much more is not excavated than is…

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