Friday, September 6, 2013

Pompeii! Tuesday, June 25th, Part One!

This is a day I had been so looking forward to! From the very beginning of the planning this port was one of the highlights for me. Not so much because of Naples, or shall we say, Napoli. But because by docking in Napoli we’d be able to not only be able to go to Pompeii but also the Amalfi coast! What could be better? All of this in one day? 

We would be using Joe Banana Limo’s again and our port day was thankfully a long day. 7 am – 7 pm. We chose an “all inclusive” day with Joe Banana – the tour included our lunch as well as a guide in Pompeii. 

Alex however was not too excited about our plans for the day. Sure, he was looking forward to Pompeii, but something seemed to be missing from our agenda. He could not believe we had a day planned in the place where pizza was essentially discovered, which is Naples – and yet we wouldn’t actually be setting foot in the city of Naples itself! How could we not be getting authentic pizza from Napoli? “Mom – you of all people? To not get the original pizza?” He was horrified! Well, it really didn’t seem quite right did it? 

Anyway…we got off the ship and met our driver, Paolo, right on time at 8 am. Right away, we could tell this was going to be a great day. Paolo was one Italian who loved his job! Mimi mentioned to Paolo that maybe during our day if at all possible, could Alex get some authentic Napoli pizza here in this Pizza Capital of the World? Well – Paolo very enthusiastically accepted this mission!

We all got into his van and he explained his plan for the day as we set off for our first stop…Pompeii! He gave us some history on the way, which included some video clips he had on his dashboard iPad! He showed us some videos of the lava flow, eruptions, and pictures of Mt Vesuvius. This man loved the history of this doomed city! 

I think I may have mentioned that prior to the trip, the kids and I had several “International Movie Nights” to prepare for some of the places we’d be visiting. Many movies were watched by just Megan and I. Alex thought they were a bit too “girly”. But we all watched a documentary on Pompeii. I think it may have been a PBS or National Geographic special. Alex had actually watched it in school before, but Megan had never seen it. It really was great that they both had such an in depth knowledge of what had happened there and what life would have been like leading up to the eruption.

Mt Vesuvius was looming at every turn during our drive. The crater had a few clouds around it, but the volcano was just huge!

I can not imagine living there with such an active volcano just waiting to erupt!

We arrived at Pompeii, and like our other private tours of the ruins we’d been to, we got there before the big buses filled with huge masses of other tourist arrived! Nice!

Our guide for Pompeii, Enzo, was there waiting and he had our tickets already so we could walk right in. Paolo made our introductions, we had a quick stop at the rest rooms and off we went!

Enzo was an interesting older gentleman. A bit goofy at times even! But he seemed to know Pompeii in and out! I know we only scratched the surface but we sure saw enough to get a feel of the daily life there. As we walked through the city, one could imagine the eruption and what came after! 

We saw the government areas and social areas

I felt like we saw it all - but I know we didn't!

There is so much detail here. So much history and really such tragedy. What amazing places these were! We of course saw the bodies frozen in time. This was so touching. Their breath literally taken from them as they were covered in ashes.

We saw some artifacts that were recovered

We saw the bath houses.

We walked some more and made our way to the shops - the “fast food” stands you always hear about!

Alex and Megan pretending to serve some food

This was the Modestum's Bakery with the brick ovens that even could have been used for pizzas! Or maybe just breads… 

Mimi and G-Pop listen to Enzo explain what took place here at the Bakery wile sitting on a millstone, used for making flour

We saw the residences - I felt like we saw it all - but I know we didn't!

This is the entrance to one of the very wealthy residences, the House of the Faun.

This is the colorful entrance way inside that gate to the House of Faun.

Inside the courtyard of the house.

This is the Macellum, which was a covered food market. 

Right at the entrance of this area were more bodies - you could get much closer to these. At a matter of fact, our guide - Enzo insisted we get right up to the cases, much to the annoyance of the other tourists behind us and in front of us. He practically pushed the six of us behind the ropes and insisted that "we" could because we were with him. Ok....we quickly walked behind the ropes following him, snapping pictures and ignoring the people in line telling us to get out of their way. I have no idea if we should have gone behind the ropes or not - but he was our guide and there was someone in charge watching him and they never told him to move. So - when in "Rome" or should I say when in "Naples" so to speak...follow your guide! I did get some pretty moving pictures I think. I am amazed at the discovery of how to preserve the shape of these people in plaster. On the bodies here you can actually still see pieces of their skulls. 

It was so easy to imagine such a busy port city that this was before it was destroyed!

This was the one place we bought one of those little books that shows the overlays of what the ruins look like and what the original city may have looked like. It was just fascinating to me. The size is just immense! The last page of the book shows a map of Pompeii in 79 A.D. and it could be of any modern day city. It’s just amazing to me. Then you turn the page and see what has been excavated. Such a small amount! There is so much more still under the earth! It’s hard to believe so much is still uncovered. Walking there it felt big – imagine how much more is there, underground today.

It was early when we arrived, so it was never too hot and it was never too crowded. Enzo seemd to always move us just as other people showed up where we were standing. I had no idea that Pompeii had already experienced pretty severe destruction from an earthquake prior to the eruption and it was in the process of rebuilding.

We had seen now ruins in Athens, Ephesus, smaller ruins in France and now Pompeii. Each was so different. So unique. So fascinating!

Just as the crowds started to really arrive it was time for us to move on. We said good bye to Enzo and met back up with Paolo.  Our morning could not have been better.  It was a perfect start to the day.  Could the afternoon compare?  Next up...the Amalfi Coast! 

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