30 July 2009

Italy (Part I)

Posted by Jessica Ball

I’m finally in one place for a couple of weeks this summer, and that means it’s time to start posting photos while I delay writing real blog entries. (There’s some cool stuff I saw on both my Italy and Utah trips that I definitely want to discuss, but my brain is still adjusting to the DC-area sauna, so they’ll have to wait until I”m feeling more creative.)

Anyway, here are a few of the best photos from my trip to Italy in June. (I’ve also discovered that, while the heat and humidity are nasty in Italy in June, they’re nothing like the heat and humidity we have around DC at the same time. I can’t speak for August, though.)

Some of the beautiful marbles used to decorate the Vatican (which is, by the way, big and elaborate and overdecorated enough to make your head explode). A lot of the churches in Rome look like this, but the Vatican takes the cake. (This is the tomb of one of the Pope Alexanders, but I was too distracted by the inlay to notice which.)

A medieval street in Rome near the Vatican. All those cobblestones are basalt!

The first Roman mile marker on the Via Appia (which is not only made of basalt, but built on a lava flow).

Ruts in Via Appia basalt.

The amphitheater at Sutri, which is excavated out of volcanic tuff (and right next to even older Etruscan tombs that were dug out of the same unit).

Probably the most spectacular columnar jointing I’ve ever seen in my life, in a Vulsini District trachyte. (The bush at the top of the cliff is roughly four meters tall.)
The pines of Rome and part of the Palantine Hill. This explains why Pliny the Younger’s comparison of eruption columns to pine trees always confused me – Roman pines don’t look like American ones!

The Fossa cone on Vulcano. Vulcano is a lovely island, but not if you can’t stand the smell of sulfur vents!

Strombolicchio, a volcanic neck off the coast of Stromboli, where an early calc-alkaline volcanic center existed about 200 ka.

One obligatory cute cat photo from a bookstore on Stromboli.

And an obligatory Strombolian eruption photo. If you look closely through the spatter, you can see the lights of the boats watching from about 850 meters below. (Next time, I’m parking myself on a boat for the light show – much more relaxing than the climb!)