The pros and cons of Napoli

We wanted to see Pompeii and I wanted to taste a pizza from the place where it was born. To me a short trip from Rome to Naples seemed like the natural thing to do. We would eat some of the "best pizza in the world"...take a look around, you know..."see Naples and die" (a phrase apparently coined from the city's golden age in the later part of the 1700's). From there, a short skip and jump and you are in Pompeii. In theory, a great idea. Sure, there were those who said it was dirty, full of thieves, and that you put your life into the uncertain hands of crazy scooter drivers when crossing the street. They were overreacting, surely. Welllll... the pizza was awesome, ummm... actually... I think that the critics were not too far off the mark...

OH! there was a lot of contempory art in the new metro stations
and... yep that's all I got. However, you still gotta go. Aside from the pizza and subway art that don't quite make up for Naples shortcomings you must go to see Pompeii. If chaotic, kinda dirty, and a little rough around the edges isn't your thing...go to Naples eat a pizza and catch the first train to the Amalfi coast or a ferry to Capri, then go to Pompeii. I don't see how you would regret this. I'm sorry Naples but 1790 it ain't.

Panoramic view near the main entrance.

"The culprit"

Pompeii was what I call a sock remover. At the base of the still active Vesuvius lie some of the best preserved roman ruines ever. This
did make up for a less than stellar performance from Naples. We gave ourselves 5 hours to do the grand tour. We used up every minute and missed tonnes I am sure. You get a nice panorama of the ruines as you enter threw the main gate. Layed out before you, a true roman city begging to be explored. How could we refuse?

Another view of the surroundings.

The first stop the temple of Apollo. Fluted Roman columns, the altar space, and even (replica) statues that somehow withstood the temperature and time, waited to be explored. Cobbled streets with ruts where the chariots rode acted as the best way to get from one sight to the next.

Narrow street, unfortunately the chariot ruts don't show that much.

Wall mosaics on one of hundreds of dwellings.

As fast and furious as we could walk was as fast as the sights to see came up. So much stuff, in fact, there is no way I can keep track of it all. The most bang for our buck, so far, I'd say. More Roman columns than you can shake a stick at. Nicely preserved mosaic tiled floors, frescos, relief
carvings and even an ampitheater.

Don't hold me to it, but this is perhaps a tepidarium. (warm bath)

We saw about 1000 baths and an ancient fountain where cool water flowed for the bathers to drink in the hot bath. Not so ancient dogs made themselves at home where ever a cool surface could be found. We saw ancient bakeries, large clay pots, dwellings, tombs, and even kitchens! The sight was brimming with as much history as it had tourists. I felt a connection to the past and could imagine bustling village life.

Dog in one of the ample caldariums. (hot baths)

Relief carvings in a bath.


We went to see the villa of the mysteries, a large estate on the outskirts of town, where the most viberant of the fresco paintings are found. Sprinkled throughout the site were plaster casts of victims of the eruption. Apparently, during the excavation process cavities formed where bodies once lay and archaeologists were able to cast the human forms that once lay buried under layers of solidified volcanic ash.

Villa of the Mysteries fresco

All in all, both Corina and I had our metephoric socks blown off with a force similar to that of Vesuvious. Why metephoric, you ask? Well, it seems we visited wearing our sandals and you all know how Corina feels about socks and sandals. So come to Italy and go to Pompeii, just make sure to bring an extra pair of socks...regardless if you are wearing sandals or not.



Karla said...

Nice to hear that Corina is stepping out of her comfort zones!

gayle said...

" socks and sandals" no no no. Great write up and great pictures Miss you M