Friday, April 22, 2011

Quiet Days

After our two days of pounding the Venetian cobblestones, we decided to spend the last two days of Mike and Katrina's vacation resting and staying near home. We spent much of our time reading, writing, and sleeping in the warm, lemon-scented Glass House, which is always a nice way to pass the time.

In the interest of one last site visit, we drove the quick, 5-minute drive to the Baia Archaeological Park. I visited this place a few months ago, on a quiet day while Nathan was out of town. It's a little known, lovely place to see ruins of old villas and thermal complexes completely alone. There are no other tourists. Both times I visited, there was a sum total of about four other people walking around this huge area - much different from our visit to the Roman Forum the following day (coming in a future post).

Waiting for discovery
This visit, however, I was armed with the most fantastic guidebook specific to our region - Campi Flegrei, Guide of Discovery to the Lands of Fire by Massimo D'Antonio. Using this, we could see that the big hole in the ground really was once a swimming pool, we could see the changing rooms for the thermal complex, we could know that the domed Temple of Mercury (the swimming pool built a hundred years before the Pantheon in Rome) is actually the oldest known example of a round cupola. We walked around, sometimes following dark tunnels into the terrace below, sometimes pausing to take in a vista that included the Temple of Venus, set right into the nearby neighborhood, the Baia Castle atop it's cliff, the Bays of Pozzuoli and Naples, Capri in the distance, and Mount Vesuvius hovering over the mainland, a view that we could imagine those bathers so long ago enjoying as they walked upon mosaic floors, from sauna to warm pool to cold pool.

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