Travelers and poets have often rhapsodized about the Mediterranean’s spectacularly capricious geology in this area, but for those living in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79, the end came swiftly and cruelly. As we followed our guides through the silent, deserted streets (save the 21st century tour groups jostling for position in the Forum), the three dimensionality of the buildings and frescoed scenes painted on the walls of the houses allowed us to connect with the city’s doomed citizens in a way that is not possible at ordinary archaeological sites. All too soon, we had to return to the ship for an Italian buffet, and then it was on to Ravello. The enchanting views of the Amalfi Coast and the late fall gardens from the terrace of a villa were certainly worth the trip through the mountain switchbacks!