IN THE SHADOW OF VESUVIUS
Beset with mechanical problems, my twelve year old Minolta analog camera was on its last legs at this point; it finally gave up the ghost completely a bit later while I was wandering around Rome, but I still managed to capture Vesuvius looming darkly over the ruins of Pompeii. Digitalizing the colour slide a few years later only seemed to add to the photo’s difficulties. Sometimes though, even a not so perfect photo can preserve the mood and the memory of the moment. Earlier that day I had been on the summit of the volcano walking around the crater’s edge and enjoying an incredible view over the Bay of Naples. When one realizes that original summit of Vesuvius was partially blown away during the eruption that began the destruction of Pompeii on August 24th 79 AD, and that the cone collapsed the next day finishing the job, one can imagine that before the eruption the volcano looked much different than it does today. When I was on the crater’s edge I could see only a few harmless looking plumes of smoke and steam wafting skyward. Other than that, all seemed very peaceful. But looks are deceiving. Vesuvius is a ticking time bomb that could explode again any minute, today, tomorrow, in days, weeks, months or years. And with over two million people living in the vicinity of the volcano today, an eruption on the scale of that which buried Pompeii and Herculanum could turn into an unthinkable disaster. I was just always glad that it didn’t happen while I was up on the volcano. For something like that I don’t particularly need a ringside seat…
Photo taken in Pompeii, Italy during a visit in 1996.
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