Happy Birthday to Mike St Dennis!! Another birthday to celebrate in Italy.
The day started out with a bang…or rather a crash. Our hotel in Naples had beds that pulled out from the walls so we could fit 3 into each room, and some rooms even had pullout bunk beds. Around 6am one of these bunk beds gave in and fell off the wall. Two of our travelers were on the two beds and another was sleeping on the other side of the room. No one was hurt but it made for a very entertaining breakfast story (and a full refund for that room). After that jump start we headed to the engineering department of the Federico II University in Naples for some lectures. The first lecture was about the tower of Pisa. The lecture focused on how to make the tower more stable without compromising its historical and artistic integrity. The tower is leaning about 5 degrees from vertical and the less lean the better. The second lecture was on earthquake protection of historical buildings. Italy lies on a fault line so it does experience occasional earthquakes. With all of Italy’s historic landmarks, this is something they constantly think about. We also toured one of their labs which had a lot of cool tools. Their tools were also on a much larger scale than the tools in the St Thomas labs.
Next we moved on to Pompeii. Pompeii was essentially frozen in time when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79AD. The city is so well preserved as are some artifacts such as pots and pans and even some human remains. The city is huge and we only had a couple of hours so we only got to see some things. We saw a villa and stores and restaurants. We also saw a theater, which was pretty big and very impressive. After Pompeii we loaded up the bus and started our 7 hour journey to Florence. We watched Gladiator on the bus thanks to Barbara, which made the time pass that much faster. We arrived in Florence and checked into our new hotel which is a very nice hotel (compared to the Naples hotel). After settling in, most people stayed in to shower, sleep or check Facebook/email, but a brave few went out for a drink to celebrate the last hour of Mike’s birthday. We had a drink then went back to the hotel to prepare for tomorrow. Maserati and Ducati factories tomorrow!!