The Bay Of Naples And Vesuvius
( Originally Published early 20th century )
The Bay of Naples is one of the most beautiful and one of the most interesting spots on earth. Graceful hills rise from its waters on all sides, and towering four thousand feet above it, stretches the volcano Vesuvius, a smoking torch by day, a pillar of fire by night. Just below Vesuvius lie two buried cities, Pompeii and Herculaneum, now only just emerging from the deep deposit of lava streams and devastating ashes that covered them utterly more than eighteen hundred years ago.
Palaces and villas, vineyards and gardens, adorn the sloping hillsides. On one of these slopes was the home of the poet Vergil. But Mt. Vesuvius is always the background of every picture of the Bay of Naples ; it is the presiding genius of the place.
In the Bay of Naples lies the island of Capri, once the home of the Caesars. The emperor Augustus was especially fond of it and made of it a dream of delight. He left the island to his successor Tiberius, and Tiberius built upon the cliffs of Capri twelve splendid palaces, each vying with the others in magnificence, and all of them lavishly adorned with statues, theaters, groves, and gardens. In each of these palaces he lived a month in turn through-out the year, thus making the island for the time the center of the civilized world.
One of the most attractive features of Capri is its wonderful Blue Grotto. The opening to the cave is so small that the visitor has to lower his head when the boat enters, and only a very small boat can enter the grotto. But within, walls, roof, and water are of the most beautiful shade of blue, such as no painter in the world can reproduce. The oar of the boat seems in the water like a blade of sapphire; the hand dipped in the waves gleams like silver; the opening to the cave, through which alone the light can enter, appears like the sun rising from a sea of turquoises.
The visitor does not linger long, however, in the Blue Grotto, for if the sea should become violent, he might have to remain in the cave till the wind changed and the waves went down. Travelers have sometimes been detained thus for twenty-four hours.
Pompeii (pom pa ye). — Herculaneum (her ku la ne um). — Capri (ka pre). — Tiberius (Ti be'ri us).