A Pizza Pilgrimage to Campania’s Lost Cities of Pompeii
Pompeii. (Photo by Andrew J. Koszul)
I was born in New York and spent my childhood, formative years, at the camp of the same name in northern Idaho. Our family vacationed there every summer, and our memories of what the camp looked like and the people we encountered are deeply rooted in the memories of those who grew up there. The camp inspired our love of ruins and architecture.
It is in New York that I had my first experience with pizza, but pizza is hardly what I had in mind when I was young. I was more enthralled by the stories of the camp, and it was during a visit to the camp in northern Idaho in 2003 that I wrote a short story that would eventually become Losing Pompeii.
My relationship with Pompeii lasted several years. I attended the camp as a guest lecturer and then spent several years writing book reviews in the New York Times. I did not return to Pompeii until 2012, when I moved to New York from northern Idaho.
I knew nothing about Pompeii’s Lost Cities but decided to find out. I wanted to explore a place in Italy that was lost long ago and find out what the city looked like when it was being destroyed by a volcano. I had already spent many hours with photos on Google Earth, but I learned that not all the photos were even from Pompeii, so I decided it was time to visit where the photos were taken, the Campania, to see what it looked like then. In 2017 I made my first trip to the Campania.
I arrived in Naples on June 3, 2017 and spent two days wandering around the Campania—taking photos and reading about what the city looked like. We left Naples on June 5 and flew to Naples. We flew to Pisa and spent a night at the Hotel La Fenice, the grandest and most luxurious hotel in Pisa. The next day, Sunday, we spent a night in Siena.
On Monday I explored the town and found out that Siena has a fascinating history, and I was curious as to whether Pompeii was also inhabited by a people who spoke Latin.
It was not a place I had ever visited before.