"good news! your bag has been found and it's right here"
The hostel staff then proceeded to hand me an enormous bag that was distinctly Not-mine-at-all. But the bag was checked with my name on it from London, so we went ahead and opened it. And inside floating around was my little bag I had checked. Ripped in half. Covered in grease. With a bunch of clothes and all the toiletries missing! It looked like some machine had ripped the bag in half, then the groundstaff just checked another bag in under my name. Unhelpful! So, slight spanner in the works, but our raincoats were still intact! So it was off to Pompeii, the primary reason we came to Naples!
|Napoli with Mt Vesuvius in the background|
Following the helpful advice of our hostel, we grabbed a very cheap bus to Pompeii that took about 40 minutes of highway-driving to get to the ruins.
And these ruins were on a scale like nothing I had ever seen before! This is not just a couple ruined houses, or a ruined village, but a ruined metropolis. I knew Pompeii was big, but the size of it is hard to understand until you arrive.
Here is a small-scale model of the streets (keep in mind about 40% of Pompeii has never been excavated):
We wandered around the streets of Pompeii for over 4 hours, and probably only saw a small section of the city. But what a city! We saw temples, regular plebian houses, rich houses, in-between-houses, baths, shops, and even a brothel. We were actually ridiculously lucky that it was raining- there were hardly any people around and it wasn't hot and sticky (Pompeii is similar to London in that there are not really a lot of trees around). This meant we had lots of energy for walking which was essential
Like in modern Italy, there were many beautiful courtyards. By looking at the imprints and residual DNA left under the ash, archeologist/scientists have been able to replant exactly the same plants as were there 2000 years ago when the volcano erupted. They even grow the same type of grapes that used to grow there originally, and produce wine under what I imagine is a very expensive label!
|tourist (Me!) posing for scale- in a huge mansion. A few building still had the original paintings intact 2000 years and one volcano later.|
One of my favourite parts of Pompeii was the special dog programme that they run. Pompeii since the beginning of time has welcomed dogs and cared for them. In the current modern day, they run a special dog adoption programme. They take in a few stray dogs who are allowed to live in the ruin, and wander about. There are a few dog kennels for them to sleep in if they want, and they can are all up for adoption. And these were the calmest dogs you've ever seen. They must see millions of tourists a year, and they were cool as cucumbers and not phased by it at all:
|sleeping in an amphitheatre|
Jumping ahead slightly, but my parents recommended that we head to the museo archeologico in downtown Pompeii. I highly recommend the experience as well! it was eye-popping to realise how much stuff was in Pompeii when they found it. It must have been chocker with mosiacs, statues, icons, paintings, mosaics, crockery, pottery, jewelery, gold, papyrus libraries( !!!!! they found 10,000 books which they managed to read through some miracle of science and technology), and more. Pompeii is essentially gutted of the stuff it used to have, but is nonetheless impressive. Once you realise all the stuff they have taken away from the site, it's truly mind-boggling.
What also amazed me was the mosaics. I had never really seen any before, and they had removed all the good ones from Pompeii into the museum. it was partly amazing in how realistic and colourful the images were...the other half of the amazing derived from the subject matter. Hippos, ibises, and alligators in this instance. Clearly there was a lot of trade and travel going on, even then. Maybe things haven't changed as much as we thought.
This is part 3 of my series on the 9 days R. and I spent in travelling on the cheap in Italy across Naples and Rome- you can read about the whole trip here: