Sunday morning we woke up ridiculously early (for our vacation time, that is) to catch a train at Roma Termini to Naples. From there we took the Circumvesuviana to Pompeii and did a self-guided tour. I was so excited about Pompeii. I had no idea what to expect, really, beyond some casts of poor victims and remains of buildings. Maybe I was a little ignorant about Pompeii, but I thought it was a small little place. Turns out the ruins are a lot bigger than I expected. Our handy Rick Steves book suggested having at least 3 hours to tour the city and that’s all the time we could afford.
The trip from Rome to Pompeii was about 2.5 hours each way including wait time for the second train. We wanted to get back to Rome early enough to have a leisurely dinner, walk to the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon again in the daylight and start packing for the trip home on Monday. This meant catching a train at 9am and returning to Roma Termini by 5:30pm. Calculating in the time, we had three hours only to spend at Pompeii. While we were waiting for the Circumvesuviana train, the station would play recorded messages in Italian and then in English and Spanish. One of the messages was warning travelers about thieves. “Ladies and Gentlemen, please watch your pockets” I found that to be quite amusing. I like the subtle miscues in the Italian-English translations.
Here’s a good place to include a semi-retraction about Naples. Looking back at earlier posts, I realize I was little harsh on the city of Naples. Especially since I now know about the garbage pick up problems they’ve been having for the past few months. This completely explains the mounds of trash we saw on the streets earlier in the week. I still think this is not a very tourist friendly town, and the drivers are lunatics, but I apologize for saying it was a dump. Hopefully the garbage will be picked up soon and they can work out their mozzarella problems.
We arrived at Pompeii around 11:30 and got right in line. It must be our lucky week because the admission to Pompeii and Herculaneum – another city of Vesuvius ruins- was free! We got a map and booklet that gave information about the excavation, which was started in the 1700s when Italy became a unified nation. They’ve really done a lot of excavating, but there is still so much more area to uncover. This is an area currently being excavated.
First we had to get a good look at the volcano that started it all. Here’s us with Mount Vesuvius in the background. The sky was a bit hazy; I wish it would have been clearer!
This is the main city entrance. You can’t see this, but directly to the left is the pedestrian entrance, this one is for pack animals.
It was a very steep walk. The streets are basically round flat boulders that are tough on your feet. They suggest that women do not wear high heel shoes here. Jose and I were both wondering how many broken ankles happen at Pompeii each year. That’s something to research!
This is a picture of one of the famous Pompeii victims. This is not actually a body covered in volcanic dust…don’t laugh, some people really think it is. This is a plaster body cast. While they were excavating, the archaeologists were finding a lot of holes in the dried dust and ash. They soon figured out that these holes were actual remains of where decomposable materials once were. They would pour plaster into the holes and fill them up. After they dried, they would break off the volcanic ash and would be left with the perfect recreation of what had been in that hole. Most of the time, it was either people or animals. Sometimes it was an object made from animal products (hence the decomp)
A few last Pompeii pictures. Most of the ruins are just random houses, here’s one they uncovered with original wall paintings.
This is a house with the original mosaic tile uncovered…isn’t that incredible?
Sooner than we realized, it was time to return to Rome. We saw less than half of what was at Pompeii. I think we were moving a little slowly, either from being tired, or just having so many things to look at! We stopped across the street for a quick sandwich and a lemon granita, which was so cold and delicious. It tasted just like a LemonChill!
On the way back from Naples, we were on the train waiting for it to leave the station when we heard a lot of loud screaming from outside. We looked up just in time to see a guy steal a woman’s purse. She chased him for as long as she could, but he hopped inside a commuter train (we assume he left from the other side, but don’t know for sure) and she lost him. I felt really bad for this lady. It was the first and only time we’d seen something violent happen. Well at the airport someone driving one of those carts that move people and baggage ran into a lady walking with her suitcase, but that’s not quite the same thing.
When we arrived back in Rome, the sun was still shining (thanks to last night’s spring forward). The cab driver let us off at the Trevi Fountain and we were able to get some pictures of it during the day. It does not possess the same magic that it does at night, but it was still nice to look at.
We stopped at our little grocery store to stock up on gifts, mostly food items for people at home and then walked back to the B&B. Here are a few photos of things we’ve only seen at night. This is one of the many obelisks that are found all around Rome and a closeup of the carvings on the side.
This is the view of the Pantheon as it appears when you turn down a street. I love this photo because it looks like the buildings are playing peek-a-boo!
and this is the view at the end of the street above
We went to dinner at the place directly next door to our B&B called Taverna Le Coppelle. They were known for their pizzas. We had the best, most friendly waitress we’ve seen yet. She explained things on the menu and made some good suggestions, like these items on a fritto misto plate. This is rice balls, potato croquettes, and baby mozzarella
another caprese sald…I LOVE basil, and tomatoes, and well cheese too. At least mozzarella cheese
Tonight I had orrechiette (little ears) with broccoli and some mild sausage. It was very tasty.
Jose had a pizza, which was also very good.
Once again, I had veal saltimbocca alla Romana, but it didn’t photograph well. Regardless of how it looks below, this tastes just incredible.
These are the pictures of our room at the B&B.
That’s pretty much all of the trip. I’ll be posting some loose ends over the next week so feel free to come back here to visit. We have to upload all the video clips so be on the lookout for that. I will also post the names and addresses of the places we stayed. Thanks to everyone who kept coming back to read and traveling “with” us. I hope you enjoyed the trip as much as we did.
C & J