We arrive in Naples, the 3rd largest city in Italy after Rome and Milan. Like many seaside ports, Naples built fortresses to defend herself, but not much is left as this was one of the most bombed Italian cities during WWII. Naples is a very industrial town, a stopping off port to the primary destinations of Pompeii, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast. Hmm…which destination should we head to?
Month: November 2014 Page 1 of 3
Catania is the second largest city in Sicily, and is known for it’s seismic history! Yikes!! Our tour guide said that in her lifetime, she has seen the city rebuilt five times. All of the citizens live beneath the active eruptions of Mt. Etna volcano, never knowing if the next eruption is going to take their house. It is one of the most active volcanos in the world and is in a constant state of activity. It has been designated as a decade volcano by the United Nations, and is also a UNESCO world heritage site. Of late, it has erupted in 2001, ’03, ’05, & ’08, with summit eruptions in 2006, ’08, and 2012. Interesting to see, but I sure wouldn’t want to live here!
As we sailed into Valetta, Malta, it was like seeing an ancient Biblical city that time had forgotten. Most of it’s buildings were constructed in the 1600s during the rule of the Knights Hospitaller, or the Order of St. John, one of the most famous Western Christian military orders of the Middle Ages. They were dedicated to St. John the Baptist.
Their mission was to follow the crusades, which were widespread military expeditions by the Roman Catholic Church to regain the Hold Lands that were taken by Islamic conquests who imposed their Muslim religion. The Knights were successful in regaining possession of the Holy Lands from the Turks, freeing the people from Muslim rule. Grandmaster, Jean de Valette led the siege, from whom the city then took his name. To date, Malta is 99% Roman Catholic in great thanks to the Knights.
This city is absolutely mythic. The narrow meandering streets are crowded with ancient buildings and ancient Renaissance cathedrals and Baroque palaces with 2,000 years if history. The entire city was recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 1980. The old and historical building have now been filled with little shops and eateries but there is still plenty of old world charm to take you back in time.