Chapter XIX. Rome to Brindisi.

From Rome I went to Pompeii, stopping long enough at Naples, however, to learn that the impudence of the pestiferous porters is quite unendurable. Italy throughout is much infested with porters, but in the southern section of the peninsula they are a regular pest, which at times becomes epidemic. During the traveling season it seems as if everybody was a porter. Sometimes they will surround the traveler and assail him on every side, asking him to let them carry his baggage. Sometimes I found them to be of great service in finding hotels for me, but at other times I was much inconvenienced by their attacks. I think it was at Naples, where a dozen or more of them yelled at me all at the same time, each desirous of carrying my satchel. As none of them could speak in a language that I understood, I declined to let any one have it. Each one evinced his earnestness by taking hold of my baggage while asking for it. After taking turns at their chances in this way for a while, at the same time crowding the path in front of me so that I could not proceed, one of them in his greediness almost tore my satchel out of my hands, I responded to his supplication with such a tremendous no, that the next fellow assumed a stooping posture and asked me in a whisper! These people deserve our pity rather than censure. Many of them are evidently sometimes in a famishing condition. But few who have not seen, can form an idea of the poverty which reigns in some sections of Southern Italy, especially between Naples and Brindisi. I saw children running about in this section, that had little of clothing save a shirt, which was generally torn in every part; some few, below the age of about six or eight years, had not even a thread of clothing upon their bodies. An elderly man that was plowing with a pair of oxen, as is the custom in Italy, was accompanied by his wife who was well dressed, but he wore only a shirt that reached to his knees, and a hat. I spent a Sunday at Brindisi, and observed that people keep no Sunday there. All the people wear old and tattered garments, and I could not see a hat, a coat or a pair of pantaloons on the person of one of the hundreds that thronged the market-place all Sunday, that looked as if it had been new at any time within the last few years!

The railroad tunnels are even more numerous than in the Black Forest. In some places it becomes impossible to read in the cars, as the train is much of the time under the mountains. From the window of the cars I saw a man with his bare feet in a tub treading grapes, for the purpose of making wine. It reminded me of the way, as it is said, some made their sourcrout in this country some forty-five or fifty years ago.

I spent a day among the ruins of Pompeii and in the ascent of Mount Vesuvius. Pompeii was a town of about 30,000 inhabitants when it was destroyed by an eruption of old Vesuvius in A.D. 79. On the 24th of August a dense shower of ashes covered the town 3 feet in thickness, but allowed the inhabitants time to escape. Only of those which returned to recover valuables, &c., were overtaken and covered by the shower of red hot rapilli, or fragments of pumice-stone, which, with succeeding showers of ashes, covered the town to the depth of 7-8 feet. "The present superincumbent mass is about 20 feet in thickness." In the one third of the town already excavated the skeletons of some 500 have been found. Casts of bodies found in 1863, were made by pouring plaster of Paris into the cavities where they had lain, and the figures of the deceased in their death-struggle are thus obtained. Baedeker devotes 25 pages to a description of the wonders and curiosities of this exhumed town.

The ascent of Vesuvius required about six hours. We started at 6:30 in the morning and returned at 12:30 p.m. The distance from Pompeii, which stands at its foot, to the top of it is about 5 miles in a straight line, and eight miles by the paths. Mules can ascend half-way; but I took a guide and walked the whole distance. At the point where the mules must be abandoned, a number of guides offered to carry me up, or to drag me up by means of a rope! But I climbed it. A cloud hangs over it all the time, which is occasioned by the column of steam that issues from its crater. The entire upper part of the peak is perfectly bare of vegetation, and covered with fine cinders, rapilli, &c., through which escapes a gas that almost suffocates the ascending traveler. At the top we shouted into the crater and heard distinct echos after two seconds, which proves that the mouth of the crater reflected the sound at the depth of about 1,000 or 1,100 feet!

From Pompeii I returned to Naples and spent the night there. Early on Thursday morning I went to the "Stazione" (Station) and left for Brindisi. The temperature was 90 degrees in the shade, in the afternoon. Some people have constructed artificial caves which they use as stables, for their cattle; and possibly some have such rude grottos for their homes!