I had the wonderful opportunity of visiting Italy in the spring of 2010. One of the stops I made was to the preserved town of Pompeii, which so long ago was covered by the thick ash and mud from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
With the slopes of Mount Vesuvius rising to the north, the town stood in a quiet, peaceful, almost eerie state. The birds warbled softly in the trees; the only other sounds were those of fellow tourists, emerging from cobblestoned side streets on either side of me, commenting on the history, the architecture, and the paradoxical beauty of the place.
Frozen in time, the town gave a snapshot of ancient Italian life that can not be captured in textbooks, or even pictures. To truly experience Pompeii, you have to explore the streets of the ghost town yourself, walking the city fixed in ancient history.