Bring waders

Wild storms across Italy, with heavy rain and winds up to 110 mph, have battered the coasts. Flooding in Venice has reached the fourth highest level ever recorded, more than 5 feet above the normal level. More details.

Travel Thought for the Week

“Culture shock is a state of mind in transition, a state in which an individual’s senses adapt to new stimuli and he becomes aware that his behavior, which for years he had thought of as correct, polite and friendly, can be interpreted or misinterpreted as odd, rude and even hostile. It is a period in which his experience of life does not relate to life around him. Culture shock . . . is a temporary madness.”
– Robert and Nanthapa Cooper, Culture Shock! Thailand

It's time

If the European Union has its way, this will be the last time its member states make the switch from Daylight Savings to Standard Time. The EU would like to settle on one, fixed time for the entire year, which could be either Standard Time or Daylight Savings Time, and put an end to the semiannual shift that seems to be hated by all (especially in the spring, when we all lose an hour of sleep).

Europe shifts to Standard Time this weekend (Sunday, October 28, 2018), while the US won't make the change until November 4. Keep this in mind if you are traveling during this period.

Don't drink the water

Though most Europeans order bottled water in restaurants, and many drink bottled water at home, this is more for historic and cultural reasons than any fear that tap water is unsafe. Tap water in most places is just fine. I drink tap water everywhere in Europe, and have never had a problem.

The town of Matera, in southern Italy, recently issued a warning NOT to drink their water, until further notice. Routine tests turned up high levels of coliform bacteria. The local water company will be providing bottled water to residents until the problem is fixed.

Matera is a popular tourist destination, known for its sassi – homes built in caves in the old city. The well-preserved medieval town is frequently used as a film location for movies set in ancient times, including Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ.

Was Pompeii destroyed later than we think?

The traditional date for the destruction of Pompeii is August 24, 79 AD. This date is based on a letter written by Pliny the Younger, who witnessed the eruption of Mount Vesuvius from the opposite side of the Bay of Naples and described the eruption in great detail. The letter, however, was written almost 20 years later, and there may be some confusion over the date that Pliny actually wrote, and how it converts to the modern calendar.

Archaeologists digging at Pompeii have noted that the people seemed to be wearing heavy clothing for summer, that there where fruits present that ripen in the fall, and that new wine was being fermented – all indicators that the eruption may have happened later in the year. A new discovery – some faint and fragile charcoal writing on the wall of a home that was being renovated at the time – seems to point to a date in October, meaning Pompeii was still alive and functioning on that date.

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