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 2014: 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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Ellis Island: Gateway to a New Life

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I love theater and restaurants, but more than that, I love history. New York’s history may not be as deeply rooted as that of Europe, but the building of a country in the New World has a historical significance of its own. Ellis Island, which is partly in New York and partly in New Jersey, played an important role in nation building. It was the busiest immigrant inspection station from 1892 to 1954. Millions of immigrants from many different countries, mostly European, passed through the doors of the Immigration House. Imagine how many destinies were resolved here, how many people started a new life, sometimes successful, sometimes not, but most times better than what they left behind.

During the War of Independence, Samuel Ellis, a merchant from New York and owner of Ellis Island, opened a tavern on the island and provided products for local fishermen. The first immigration law, The Naturalization Act of 1790, said that any white man who has lived for two years in the United States becomes a citizen. In 1808, Ellis Island was sold to the state of New York, but retained its name. In the same year, the island was sold to the Federal Government for $ 10,000.

The first immigrant passed through the center on Ellis Island was Annie Moore, a 15-year-old Irish girl who received official congratulations and $ 1,000 ($10 gold coin).

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