- Fizzy Thoughts: Italy Trip: Day Three

Italy Trip: Day Three

Sunday, September 30, 2007

8/31

After the hotel breakfast of juice, rolls, fruit and cornflakes, we (mom and I) headed for the train station to catch the Circumvesuviana. This is the train that runs between Naples and Sorrento, and stops at Pompeii, which was where we were headed. It was super-muggy, so I was sweating like a pig by the time we got to the station. It took me half of the train ride to stop dripping. Gross! We got off the train at Pompeii and had to dodge the accordion playing girl who had planted herself right in the middle of the doorway of the train station. Outside the station, the street leading to the entrance to Pompeii was lined with souvenir vendors selling postcards and snacks, water and trinkets. We payed our 11 euros to get into Pompeii and skipped the audio guide. The plan was to spend the majority of the day just exploring the site, so off we went.
Pompeii was a Roman city that was buried in 79AD when the nearby volcano Mount Vesuvius erupted. It is a hugely popular tourist attraction, but the site is so large it is actually easy to ditch the crowds and have an enjoyable experience. I'd actually been to Pompeii on my first trip to Italy, 17 years ago. But it was definitely worth a return visit, and a place my mom really wanted to see. Most of the artifacts have been removed from Pompeii and are in a museum in Naples, but there is still plenty to see.
cast of body buried in the ash from the eruption
I seem to have 132 pictures of Pompeii. Don't worry, I won't post them all!
Here is our day, greatly condensed:
We walked all the way down the Via Marina/Via dell'Abbodanza, sweating all the way. We passed by the basilica, the baths, graffiti, lots of ancient snack bars,and beautiful villas with fountains and courtyards and remnants of painted walls and mosaic floors.
detail from a doorway
It took us about one and a half hours to explore our way down the street. A highlight was Terme Stabiane (the Stabian Baths), the oldest of the city baths, with a large central gym area, beautifully decorated walls (both painted and engraved), a pool, cold and warm baths, and furnaces to circulate air under the floor and through vents. Those Romans knew how to live!

detail from Terme Stabiane

a lonely statue in Terme Stabiane

Thanks to the abundance of group and private guides, every once in awhile it was possible to learn tidbits of info. A couple of things I learned by eavesdropping:

  • Pompeii is filled with snack bars, since it was common to go out for lunch. The snack bars front the street and look like sinks - counters with holes to hold the serving bowls:
  • Sliding doors were popular in the north end of town - you can still see the grooves in the stone.
After walking down the Via Marina/Via dell'Abbodanza, we were at the amphitheater. We went inside but didn't stay long, since it was hotter than hell inside.

amphitheater

We beat a quick retreat and were stopped by a worker who attempted to talk to us. He pointed to a "bella casa" and then said Pompeii was hot like Africa. That was about as far as our mutual lack of multilingualism got us, so we set off for the northern part of town. We stopped at the House of the Faun (a large villa that was also blazing hot inside)

mosaic floor from the House of the Faun

and the Baker's House, and then made a stop at a modern snack bar for fruit and water. Good timing on our part, since this is when the wind kicked up and a few raindrops fell.

After our snack we worked our way towards the exit, stopping to look at the Forum and the Temple of Apollo.

the Forum

the Forum

me at the Forum

Temple of Apollo

After taking the train back to Sorrento, we went back to the hotel to clean up and relax. We had made plans to meet Sue and Lance for dinner, but we decided to go wander around the centro storico before meeting them. As we were walking, I called Hamburger to say hello. I told him about how we ran into his mom and Lance the day before, and he got a huge kick out that fact. And then, not two minutes after hanging up, we ran into them again, in practically the same place as the day before. Sorrento isn't that small of a town, so this was kind of weird. We all went down to a bar overlooking the bay and had drinks and watched the sunset before dinner.

Sorrento sunset

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