ITALY 362. The city of Naples.—Let us take a glimpse at Naples, tilt largest city of Italy. It seems to be as full of people . as New York. So nar row are some of the streets that carts can not pass each other. Everywhere there are crowds of dark skinned, black-haired people who dress very much as we do, ex cept that they wear brighter color's. A hand organ plays a lively tune, and chil dren dance in the street, in and out among the passing people.
363. A volcano and a buried city.--From a high hill on the edge DI the city we look away over the beautiful Bay of Naples. To the southward we see the volcano Vesuvius. A column of smoke rises from it and hangs above it like a cloud. A few years ago, this cloud, which is really dust and is called volcanic ash, was blown nine miles by the south wind and fell on the city of Naples like snow.
The people had hard work keeping it shov eled off their house roofs so that its weight would not break them. Once, in the year 79 A. D., this volcano sent out such showers of ash that it buried a city called Pompeii, near where Naples now is.
This buried city is so interesting that we must visit it. Pompeii was built by the Romans, the people who lived in Italy at the time of Christ. After having been buried for many hundred years, it was uncovered, and its ruins tell us many things about the people who built it. We can now walk along its streets, paved nineteen hundred years ago, and see the stone walls of beau tiful houses in which lived the educated people of that time. We see pictures on the walls, statues, fine vases, dishes of pottery and metal, and many other things made and used nearly two thousand years ago.
364. Crops from lava.—These ancient ash showemhave now turned into rich, vol canic soil that grows vegetables for the Naples market. Many people owning little farms near Vesuvius and Pompeii live in villages built of lava stones. There are orange trees in the yards, and English walnut trees along the good stone roads. Nuts from these walnut trees are sent to New York every autumn.
Between Naples and Rome, we see fields of grape vines (vineyards) and many fields of wheat and hay. The women are work ing in the fields with the men. The hay is cut with scythes, for the Italians do not seem to be very fond of machinery. The wagons are drawn by big, slow, white oxen, with long, dangerous-looking horns.
365. Rome and Florence.—In the old city of Rome we find many Americans and other foreigners who have come to see the famous art galleries, the beautiful buildings, and the ruins of the palaces, theaters, temples, and other public build ings made by the Romans long ago. For several hundred years Rome was the capital of the great Roman Empire, which ruled all the people then living in the countries on the shores of the Med iterranean Sea.
Rome is now the capital of the King dom of Italy and the place where the Italian Parliament meets. It is also the home of the Pope, the head of the Roman Catholic church.
The city of Flor ence is famous for her splendid art galleries, her beautiful build ings, and the plaiting of straw.
366. A hilly country.—Unlike England and France, most of Italy is hilly or moun tainous. (See Fig. 356.) You have seen that in the Apennines the land could be used only by making terraces on the steep hillsides, or letting trees grow. In many parts of Italy, the steep hillsides have been plowed so many times that the rain has washed nearly all of the good land away, and people there can no longer raise good crops.
Even the Italian islands of Sardinia and Sicily are hilly. In eastern Sicily, Mt.
Etna, a large volcano, two miles high, has poured its lava for fifteen miles in all directions. Much of this lava is so old that it has turned into rich soil. The slopes of the mountain are therefore gen erally covered with farms and orchards.
Countries that have active volcanoes usually have earth quakes also. From time to time build ings are shaken down in southern Italy. In the city of Mes sina in 1911, many thousands of people were buried under falling walls in a terrible earthquake.