Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Our visit to Italy started with a long train ride from Venice down to Naples in the south of the country.  Naples itself is a busy city and we did see some small part of it but the basic reason for our visit was to see Pompeii.  There is a modern Pompeii but the one we wished to visit was destroyed in 79AD when Mt. Vesuvius erupted covering the city with ash.  Our friend Wikipedia says the town had about 11,000 residents at the time of it's destruction.  It was lost for many centuries and wasn't really found again until the mid-1700's.  Excavation and re-building is still going on.

We chose to stay in Naples near the train station since there is good train service to Pompeii.  Hotels are found in modern Pompeii as well but we got the impression they were quite some distance from the ruins.  The train worked just fine for us.  The day we visited was a beautiful sunny day; unfortunately warm though since we were both wearing long pants.  You pay your entrance fee then need to decide if you want a human guide, an audio guide or nothing at all.  We chose the no guide option.

You hike up this hill and come to a large open forum.  The roads are rough, large cobblestones and the sidewalks vary in height from a few inches to close to two feet (10 cm to 65cm). 
The photo of the street was taken quite early in the day before the hordes of tourists arrived.  As you can see we were hardly alone.  The forum is currently being used to display some modern bronze sculpture.  They actually fit in reasonably well but were a bit disconcerning.

 The town as it has been excavated consists of nine sections and you can pretty much wander around at will.  Some of the homes and buildings have been rebuilt using those portions of the original building that could be found and reused. 
It is really quite amazing that these frescos managed to last 2,000 years!  There are even some paintings that were done on exterior walls that have managed to survive.  There are buildings in all stages:  some like the frescos shown above that have roofs, some are shells, some are only a couple walls.
There is work being done to make the place even more of a tourist destination than it is already. This building had a history of being re-built several times prior to the cities destruction.  Now it is at least covered over while someone decides what further work should be done.

As a large Roman town, Pompeii had it's own ampitheatre where I'm sure all kinds of grisly games were played.
Before visiting Pompeii we had visited the Archaeological Museum in Naples.  It wasn't directly associated with Pompeii but gave a good overview of the Roman Empire arts and crafts.

I should mention one unfortunate happening in Naples.  My wife and I were returning from Pompeii when we were stopped by a young man who said we'd dropped something.  We said we hadn't but we were held up for a few seconds.  We walked on and a minute later arrived at our hotel.  I removed my backpack to discover it open and my wife's purse was missing.  Hmmm.  Pickpockets can do backpacks as well!  My wife is an unusual woman.  She carried nothing in the purse but her glasses and her camera.  Her credit cards, money and id are in her pockets.  It was a pain in the ass but not the worse thing in the world.  The next day we reported the theft to the police.  They were very nice but they can do nothing.  We spoke with one officer who spoke rather good English while another kind of followed along.  When we gave them our address in Nevada, the one following along pulled up our house on Google Earth!  They got a big kick out of that.  Yes, rural Nevada is just a little different from metropolitan Naples.

Next day we hopped on another train this time headed for Rome.  We wanted to look at some more ruins.  Stay tuned but I'll warn you now, it was disappointing.  Take care!

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