Although a short stay was had in Rome and I would be back in just a few days, This morning I was joining Busabout’s Italian Adventure and leaving Camping Roma for Sorrento traveling via Pompeii.
We met our guide, Ereni, who ushered us onto the bus then gave us her interpretation of Italy. A relaxed culture of abundance and relaxation, she told of how the people are friendly and that we too would fall in love with this place.
I had my reservations of her view of Italy because up until now, my experience of Italy had been quite removed from the description she had just shared. I only knew of the “big city” that I had just come from where you have to pay for everything! Even a visit to a public toilet will incur a payment. The people I had met so far gave the same impression as I’d received in France. I cant blame them, it is among the worlds most popular travel destinations and one could easily grow weary of typical travelers who are often too hungover to experience the cultural offerings of the places they are visiting. Perhaps this “adventure” would be an introduction to the Italy that we know from the movies with big personalities, family oriented, caring and passionate. Well it was a lot to expect… the journey continued.
We arrived in Pompeii, the line of buses made it clear that this was not going to give way to my established opinion of Italy. We get off the bus and head straight for gelato (yes Italian gelato is worth having at every possible opportunity). A short time later we were handed out headphones for the tour, were introduced to the tour guide and we started our walk through this once buried ancient city.
I wasn’t quite prepared for the size of the place in the same way that I was not prepared for the heat, my water bottle was finished far too quickly. Many things amazed me about Pompeii, a couple points of interest firstly the entire city was lost in just two days and secondly, when it was discovered in 1749 the whole place had to be dug out, when you see the size of it, such a task seems extraordinary. It used to be a river side city where the water came right up to the walls of the city with direct access to the Mediterranean sea. When it was buried by the lava and ash from Mt. Vesuvius’ great eruption in 79AD, the water side was moved well away from the city.
We made our way through the ruins and through the lives of these people. The stone streets were worn by the carts that were pulled through the city. You could see the trading routs used by the traders. We went into some of the homes and I could just about imagine the people still living their lives here. The town square and bathes were explored as well as one of the many brothels of the city. Throughout the city there were preserved fresco’s depicting life in the time. It was truly an amazing place to see.
My only gripe up until this point was that each time the tour guide went around a few corners the headphones would cut out… So the best idea is to keep up… Still she was way better that the guide tour guide in Prague.
One thing I hadn’t yet mentioned, and I suppose possibly what Pompeii is today most famous for is the plaster castings of the people that were buried alive under the ash, pumice and poisonous gasses. They were eery to see especially a casting of a dog that was writhing in agony as passed and its final resting position was perfectly captured. Most of the castings have been moved to a museum but the few that are still in Pompeii are enough to move you.
We finished our tour had some lunch at a near by restaurant and discussed our perspective’s on the experience We soon continued on our way to Sorrento happy to be back in the comfort of the air conditioned bus.
Note: If you have Google earth, be sure to check out the 3d models of Pompeii, even the fresco’s have been recorded and can be found. So cool! Yes I tried to find some of the statues I took photos of… and found them!