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Sunday, 24 May 2009

Shake, rattle and roll

There is plenty in Italy to remind you that the earth is not as stable as we might like to think: We drove within 20 kms of L’Aquila, where people are still living in tents after the recent earthquake; the campsite near Napoli is in the crater of an extinct volcano where hot sulphur gases still burst out of the earths surface; we climbed Mount Vesuvius, stood over the huge crater and followed the lava flows from 1944 down the mountain and we marvelled at the streets and houses of Herculeum, which disappeared under many metres of mud during the ‘79 eruption.

We have noticed a huge contrast in Italy between public and private space. Away from the central piazza, many public spaces are scruffy, there is a lot of litter and waste, pavements are either not in evidence or poorly maintained, roads are often poor and there are areas of derelict land. All these could be seen as a failing of the state: Whereas private spaces such as cafes, offices and balconies, in the control of individuals and businesses, are often tidy and well maintained and Italians themselves are very well turned-out.

We met Ann and Alistair from Aberdeen and their son Ross, who provided us with helpful hints on campsites and who we were pleased to be able to loan our spare (yes spare!) chair to.

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