Italy : A Journey to the Center of the Earth (The End)

Italy : A Journey to the Center of the Earth (The End)

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Finally from Iceland we continue to follow the route above the ground whereas the explorers traveled beneath the earth surface passing through adventures after adventures. Here we end our Iceland travel. Stay tuned for the “The End” part of the story in Stromboli, Italy.

We are back with our “The End” part of “Journey to the Center of The Earth” travel video and we are now on Stromboli island in Italy, about 50 kilometers off-shore from mainland Italy and about 250 kilometers from the nearest major city Naples or Napoli in Italian. Stromboli is a volcano island with about 5 square miles of area and population of about 500 only. This is Vinayant again operating the camera for this episode also.

This is the Stromboli Volcano on the Tyrrhenian Sea, a part of the Mediterranean Sea. This volcano with a peak height of about 3,000 feet or 1,000 feet from the sea level, loosely named “The Lighthouse of the Mediterranean” has been in almost continuous eruption, mild eruption, for about the past 2,000 years and possibly this is the reason Jules Verne set the end part of the story in Stromboli. To recap on the story, the explorer team led by Lindenbrook, after descending through Iceland’s Snaefellsjokull volcano, and traveling about 3,500 kilometers beneath the earth, passing through adventure after adventure, descending many miles, reached at the bottom in a volcanic chimney of Stromboli. At the base inside the volcano, the group comes upon the ruins of a sunken city. They also find the skeleton of Arne Saknussemm. While a strong updraft suggests it leads directly to the surface, a giant rock partially blocking the way, Lindenbrook decides to blow up the obstruction with gunpowder left by Saknussemm, and they take shelter in a large sacrificial altar bowl.

The explosion triggers a lava flow. The bowl floats atop and is driven upward by the eruption and the bowl reaches the top of the volcano chimney. This is the north-west side of the volcano and the lava flows from this area to the sea. Finally after reaching the top, Lindenbrook, Carla, and Hans are thrown into the sea with the bowl and rescued by the local fishermen who brought them to safety in their boat.

When they regain consciousness, they learn that they have been ejected from Stromboli, a volcanic island located off Sicily in Italy. This is a small fishing village Ginostra on the west side of the volcano. It is possible that the fishermen brought the explorers first in-here. Here our cameraman followed the explorers and jumped in water for a camera work. Interestingly, this Strombolicchio Island, a volcanic plug composed of lava rock, resistant to erosion, formed approximately 200,000 years ago when it was the main volcano and later shifted to the current location.

This is located about 2 kilometers north east of Stromboli Island. No one lives here but there is a 1925 built lighthouse at the summit Alec lands naked in a tree in a convent's orchard where the nuns provide him with a ladder and a “pantaloon”. This is a Church of San Vincenzo which was there at the time of the story. In fact, the first inhabited nucleus of the island was around here. This is at the east side of the volcano, located at a high point in the island and Alec’s first view could be this. A further imaginary addition to the story.

All gathered together and naturally the first surface stay since the descent is logically a hotel. This is our hotel and could be quite representative of. The next immediate task was to send a telegram back home from the nearest Post Office. Interestingly, none of the “Journey to the Center of the Earth” movies were filmed in Stromboli and we are possibly the first to shoot Stromboli part “Journey to the Center of the Earth” at the actual location.

The only feature film shot here in this island was the 1950 release Ingrid Bergman starrer Stromboli. And here is this house near the church where Ingrid Bergman and co-star Roberto Rossellioni lived together during the shoot of the film provoking a scandal as both were married then. Some memoriam. What a view from the backyard. Ingrid Bergman sitting here and enjoying. The cameraman, right at the bottom of the volcano.

Too much temptation. Camera work on the sea right on the black lava beach at the bottom of the volcano. Before we leave Stromboli, a dinner at the foothill of the volcano. And the food is naturally seafood platter because the island is surrounded by the sea. House wine and draft beer. This is the Ferry Terminal of Stromboli Island also at the east side of the volcano.

The explorers then leave Stromboli possibly by boat or steam ship from here for the nearest city to return home, and obviously Naples. In fact, during steamship days Stromboli was an important stopover for ships crossing the Tyrrhenian Sea. On the way, a view of Mount Vesuvius. This is the ferry terminal and the marina area in Naples. At the time of the story, this should have been a steam ship port and the explorers naturally reached Naples at this port.

Again, possibly a hotel stay in Naples, and possibly near the Railway station for train to home. Since in Naples, not to miss the ferocious volcano mountain Vesuvius in the outskirts of Naples. When it erupted in AD 79 it destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis, Stabiae, and several other settlements.

Pompeii, the whole city got buried under 4 to 6 meter of volcanic ash and largely preserved as a unique snapshot of Roman life, frozen at the moment it was buried. It was a wealthy town, with a population of about 11,000 with many fine public buildings and luxurious private houses with lavish decorations, furnishings and works of art. Excavation revealed remains of the city and a few glimpses. This is the Forum which was the main town square of Pompeii, a lively plaza lined with many of the most notable buildings in the city, such as, The Temple of Apollo The Temple of Venus and The Temple of Jupiter here. Next, these were Stabian Baths which were the largest and best-preserved baths in Pompeii. The entrance led into a swimming pool on the left and on the right are the male and female baths, separated by the stoves for heating the water.

Each facility had a circular cold bath or Frigidarium, a warm bath or Tepidarium, a changing room with racks for clothing, and a hot bath or Caldarium heated by air-ducts in the floor. Some wall carvings still remain. This is Lupanar, which was an ancient brothel and was one of Pompeii's most visited landmarks. The building was most notable for the erotic paintings and scandalous graffiti which still decorate its stone walls.

This large, well-preserved House of Menander belonged to a wealthy merchant who gave notice of his status right at the entrance, which is flanked by pillars with Corinthian capitals. The well-preserved atrium, little temple in one corner and an intact wooden roof that extends out to the center opening, where water drains to collect in the pool below. Interior rooms are decorated by beautiful painted walls. Further, here is a Thermopolium. Then this Amphitheater, which gives a real sense of the ancient city. This large stadium was once used for actual gladiatorial fights.

Legacy goes on till modern time. Besides various shows, the 1972 concert movie “Live at Pompeii” featuring the English rock group Pink Floyd was filmed here. Finally, all the landmarks found in Pompeii give a fascinating snapshot into the life in Roman times and possibly the city was evacuated but there are scenes of the human destruction caused.

Here there are plaster cast forms of 13 victims, each eternally frozen into the position they were in when the city became covered in ash. The victims were adults and children, several found close together and others scattered over the area. They died apparently while trying to find a way out. Before leaving for home, naturally visit some landmarks in the city of Naples. The city was founded by Greeks in the first millennium BC and Naples is one of the oldest continuously inhabited urban areas in the world. Since then the city served as capital of many kingdoms until the unification of Italy in 1861.

In 2023, the city has a population of about 1 million. To start, on the waterfront here is Castle Ovo which is the oldest castle in Naples. It was built by Roman emperor Valentinian III in the mid-5th century and carries the Roman-Era structures. Castle Ovo means Castle of Egg and legend goes that a Roman poet Virgil put a magical egg into the foundations to support the fortifications.

Also it was a site to which the last western Roman emperor, Romulus Augustulus, was exiled in 476 AD. The location offers an excellent view of the Naples waterfront and the surrounding area. Next is San Francesco Di Paola Church built in the early 19th century by Napoleon's brother-in-law King of Naples Joachim Murat who started the construction. After Napoleon's reign, the European dynasty Bourbons were restored to the throne of Naples and King Ferdinand I continued construction and finished it in 1816. The church resembles a Roman Temple Pantheon in Rome.

The façade is fronted by a portico resting on six columns and two Ionic pillars. Inside, the church is circular with two side chapels. The dome is 53 meters high.

Unfortunately, no photography was allowed inside. This Piazza del Plebiscito in front of the church means Public Square, was built in 1846 by the then King of Naples, Murat who was Napoleon's brother-in-law and built as a tribute to the emperor. This is the Royal Palace of Naples built in the 17th century, as the residence of Spanish King Phillip III who was the ruler of Naples at that time. Later it was used by various other kings of the European dynasty “The Barbouns” ruling Naples. Currently it is a museum and tourist attraction.

Here are the statues of Kings of Naples. Near the harbor, this is Castel Nuovo, built in 1279 by Charles I of Anjou, who ascended to the throne of Sicily and transferred the capital from Palermo in Sicily to the city of Naples here. This is one of the main architectural landmarks of the city. This is the University of Naples Federico II, a public university established in 1224 and is the oldest public university in the world, noted for being the world's oldest state-funded university, It is also believed to be the oldest secular state university in the world. The local transport in Naples are Taxi, Bus, Tram, Metro, Train, and Funicular, the inclined cable Railway. Naples has 4 funicular lines from terminating stations at a hilltop neighborhood of Vomero, called Funicular Central.

Nearby, this is Chiaia Funicular station, the oldest in Naples built in 1889. Unfortunately, this line is now closed for maintenance. However, we were on bus number 11.

Kilometers and kilometers of uphill-downhill walk in scorching heat. This is Porta Nolana, remains of a medieval city gate, erected during the 15th century by the Spanish Authorities at that time. This stands at the entrance of the ever busy local pedestrian market. This Santissima Annunziata Maggiore is a basilica church located in the historic center of Naples. In the ancient Roman era, the city baths and gymnasium were located in this area.

In 1318, the queen consort of the King of Naples, initially constructed the church and in 1513 the church was razed and a larger church was built. In 1757 a fire destroyed nearly all the church and the current church was consecrated in 1774 and the concave façade was added in 1782. Another must visit in Naples was Napoli Sotterranea which means Naples Underground. Currently, it is a water museum or Lapis in Italian. Naples has been inhabited for almost 3,000 years and much of the city’s past is hidden beneath the modern streets here. Greeks built this underground city during 470 AD and expanded for centuries primarily from the need of water where underground cisterns to pick-up rain.

It was further expanded during Roman rule around the 13th century. During the 2nd World War, the tunnel was used as a bomb shelter. This tourist famous Spanish quarter with a population of about 1,400, is a part of historic Naples.

This district was built in the 16th century to accommodate the Spanish military garrisons aimed at suppressing the revolt of the Neapolitan population. Since its creation, the neighborhoods have become a nerve center for crime and prostitution, and have always been a zone of social problems. Despite its reputation, the district is of historical and artistic importance, with the presence of many small workshops and artisans. Little break at a streetside Trattoria, a typical of Italy, in English Cafeteria. This is Naples Central Railway Station, originally built in 1866, redesigned and reconstructed in 1954 with 25 tracks for intercity trains including Naples-Rome High Speed Train. The story was written in 1864 and set-in for 1863.

Considering that the train system in Germany was well operating by 1850 and in England even earlier, it is obvious that the explorers made their return journey from here by train to Germany as in the original story or England as in the 1059 film and the duck hunter introduced in the film, further onward journey to Iceland. At home, Professor Lidenbrock received Hero’s welcome. And happily ever after. This is Benoy Bala and cameraman Vijayant, Megalith Video, signing off from Naples, Italy.

2023-08-14 01:16

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