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Sometimes history can be one of a country's largest draws for tourists, and that is certainly the case in Pompeii, Italy. A longtime staple of Italy tours, the lost city attracts millions of visitors every year largely due to its unique past. The famed eruption of Mount Vesuvius that buried the city in ash has made Pompeii one of the few places on earth where you can directly experience the impact such a geologic event can have on society.
Vesuvius, whose 4,200-foot peak still looms in the distance, remains an active volcano to this day, but it was its eruption in 79 AD that earned it a place in history. That explosion was so powerful it quickly buried Pompeii in a pyroclastic flow, killing an estimated 16,000 people. In fact, it all happened so fast many of the victims had no time to flee, resulting in their bodies being preserved in the ash.
Because of the eruption, Pompeii has attracted substantial attention from the archeological community as well. Many of the city's building were maintained by the ash and as a result, tourists can see Pompeii much as it was thousands of years ago during the height of the Roman Empire. Landmarks such as the ruins of the Temple of Jupiter and the Garden of the Fugitives are particularly impressive sites.
Pompeii's location in the southern part of Italy also makes it easy to transition to a tour of Sicily. The largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily is a popular tourist destination in its own right, whether you want to visit centuries-old buildings or relax on pristine beaches. Some of its most widely visited spots include the Greek building Valle dei Templi and cities such as Palermo and Syracuse.
Look down in wonder at Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Westminster and St Paul’s Cathedral from your glass-walled pod on the London Eye, then gaze out over the Louvre and the Champs-Elysees from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
The scent of rich pine forests lingers in the breeze as the 13th-century ruins of Turaida Castle are revealed before your eyes in the lush Gauja River valley in a medieval sanctuary untouched by the march of time.
The aroma of dark roasted Viennese coffee hangs thick in the air as you tread the cobblestone laneways and bask in the elegant architecture, atmospheric cafes and refined restaurants in one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe.
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