One of the highlights of my honeymoon in Italy was our trip to Pompeii. Both my wife and I are big classics nerds so for us a visit to Pompeii had something of a pilgrimage aspect to it. For me, as a geologist, it was doubly impactful to see the effect of Vesuvius on the town. For the record, we got in a huge discussion about what actually constitutes a pilgrimage.
As a bit of background, Mount Vesuvius, pictured below, erupted in 79 AD releasing a massive cloud of ash and rock which rained down upon the nearby town of Pompeii killing over 1,000 residents and entombing the town. In addition to the ash fall, pyroclastic flows also hit the town bringing more destruction and were responsible for most of the death. Mount Vesuvius is still active to this day with its last major eruption occurring in 1944.
The Pompeii site is absolutely massive. My wife and I spent about 5 hours walking throughout the town and feel like we only saw maybe half. Around every corner was another incredibly preserved relic of ancient Roman life along with poignant reminders of its fragility. The contrast between everyday life juxtaposed with the destruction is very moving.
Thanks for reading!
Update: Concidentally, renowned Canadian naturalist David Suzuki is doing a CBC special on Pompeii. Check it out here: http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episodes/pompeiis-people