Onto my most anticipated cities–Pompeii. We had learned about Pompeii last year and we’re excited to see it come alive. And alive it did! Along with Pisa, this was my other most favourite site we saw in Italy.
Pompeii is not just a few blocks of ruins, it is immense in size and nearly completely intact.
Digs are still ongoing, but what’s been uncovered, which is nearly 2,000 years old, is scarcely ruined. Mosaics on the entranceways to people’s home are still in colour and intact. Walls are still strong and straight and the pulls it all together. Pompeii has huge stones in the middle of the roads which served as “pedestrian crosswalks” as the streets were often filled with waste or water. They also were the signs that indicated whether the street was a one way, a two way or no wagons allowed. Again, my view of these ancient people is one of basics survival, but it clearly was not. There were multiple restaurants, with obvious counters and holes for pots of food and stationary stone stools.
We saw the bakery with its enviable stone oven and a stationary mill. The steam baths were mostly still intact and wall decorations, like a moulding, went the entirety of the building inside. We saw a crowd lingering at the entrance of another building and judging by the wall sign, which was a protruding penis, we rightly assumed we had made it to the brothel. Ancient day “pornography” was still intact on the walls inside, which we were told, indicated certain specialties. We saw traces of plumbing of the day, using pipes and everything and big villas, with the entrance leading to some rooms and in the middle was an outdoor garden with more rooms to the back. This particular villa had an incredible floor mosaic of the Battle of Actium. All around, are remnants of painted walls and wall art and decorations. Even the stone and brick outer walls had a pattern. Of course not to be missed are the glass-encased remains of people and animals. Because of the way the body decomposed while being encased in ash when diggers started to try to dig out the corpse, the body would literally puff into ash itself. A technique had to be used of filling the body with a plaster in order for it to retain its shape. Pompeii really is a site not only seeing once but multiple times.
Back at the van, our awe at an ‘awe’ time high (I know, that was really terrible), we discussed what we had seen while we made our way up to the top of Mount Vesuvius. Now prior to our visit, we had learned that Mount Vesuvius has been not only overdue for an eruption (based on historical data) but has been very active lately. So 5/6 of the family were not in total agreement about trying to get a bird’s eye view of what could be an eruption. But Micah won out and up we went. Along with way, we travelled through the city and had a second dose of ruins, although this one much more like a ruined place. Abandoned and half-finished buildings were everywhere. Unfinished buildings we saw were inhabited yet shouldn’t be. Pompeii had taken all day, and we could have actually spent even more time there, so by the time we reached nearly the top, the park had closed and we couldn’t get any higher up.
Before making our way back to Rome, we needed to get our Napelese pizza. If I can drive in Naples, I can drive anywhere. Both France and Italy have little mopeds and bikes everywhere so passing and being passed by these tiny motorized wasps felt normal. Where the two countries differ is in the structure of how they pass. French motorists pass nicely on the left, almost always, and in single file. Italian motorists pass….where ever there is an inch. Left, right, together, in a huge group. The only difference between Italy and Punta Cana is that in Punta Cana they went the opposite direction too. At least the Italians had the sense to go the same direction as the flow. What we learned is that you just go. We’d never been honked at as much and we’d never honked back as much, even just for the fun of joining in on some angry honking war. I think I am defiantly over my sense of being honked at. Back to our pizza. Maybe that night was extra busy, or maybe they had a newbie working, but our pizza had to be eaten practically using spoons. And it wasn’t that tasty. We were quite disappointed. But we can now say we tried. On to Rome.