Pompeii and Herculaneum: Two Beautiful Mummies

By Irina

Johann Goethe said about Herculaneum,
“Humanity survived many disasters, but no one of them brought so much pleasure to descendants.”

I walk along the street which has been uninhabited for two thousand years and enter the next house. Some frescos are preserved on the walls, and Doric columns stand in the patio. People used to bake bread in the kitchen and make love in the bedrooms on the second floor. We are in the abandoned city that was hidden from view for an unimaginable two thousand years—in Herculaneum, Italy.

The Augustus College or Collegio degli Augustali. Herculaneum, Italy.

The Augustus College or Collegio degli Augustali

A thirty-meter thickness of mudflow (lava, dirt, and water), which covered the city after the Vesuvius eruption, killed much fewer people here than in neighboring Pompeii. Most of the citizens managed to escape, but their city was preserved for many long years. Today, the empty Herculaneum lies in a huge funnel very similar to a volcano crater.

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Venice Carnival: Our First Carnival Outfits

By Irina

My masquerade mask at the Venice Carnival 2014. Italy.

Victor’s masquerade outfit. Venice Carnival 2014.

We both love Italy and come back here at every opportunity, but it was our first visit to the Venice Carnival. The experience was unique and fascinating simultaneously—you did not only put on a Venetian mask, you tried another life for a while. The carnival costume is like your new persona. You don’t recognize yourself!

Sometimes I have ingenious ideas. Once, when we intended to spend a couple of spring days in Rome, I thought: Why not in Venice and why not in masquerade costumes? A small amount of adventurous spirit inherited from someone from my family forced me to Google “Venice Carnival 2014.” Well, the carnival would take place in the second part of February, and this is the best time for us for the next five years. It’s time to fly!

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The Laocoon Group—My Favorite Greek Mythology Sculpture of the Vatican Museum


The Laocoon Group sculpture in the Vatican Museum. Rome, Italy.

The Laocoon Group sculpture in the Vatican Museums. Rome, Italy.

The Laocoon sculpture is a perfectly performed Death itself. I was a child when I first saw this statue. I did not realize its value. I just looked at the beautiful bodies of a grandfather and his grandchildren. Oh yes, I did not know it was the Trojan priest Laocoon and his sons, Antiphantes and Thymbraeus. If there is a beard, then he must be an old man, period! But this old man was in such perfect physical condition that I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I guess the ancient Greeks knew some kind of secret of getting into such a shape and keeping it without using the steroids that we need nowadays in order to recreate such an appearance.

This is the only statue that in my childhood I failed to draw successfully from the catalogue due to the huge amount of detail. It was much easier with Venus de Milo or Apollo sculptures. And now just imagine how much effort it took to cut it out from a solid marble block. As I learned later, there were two blocks, but still, does it make the process easier?

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