I love when friends are up for an adventure! Particularly when it means exploring somewhere new! For whatever reason, I thought that places like Sorrento or the Amalfi Coast were really hard to reach. They weren’t on my radar at all until one of my colleagues visited over a long weekend earlier this year. Only then did I investigate how to get there. As it turns out, there are direct flights from Geneva to Naples on easyJet, and places like Pompeii, Sorrento, Amalfi Coast, and the island of Capri are all easily accessible from there.
Monday, September 21 was a public holiday in Switzerland. (I have no idea which holiday, but I’ll take it.) This, coupled with the fact that a friend was visiting from the US, made it a great excuse to get away (and to take a couple of extra days).
[We were really excited about embarking on an adventure!]
In our first hours on the ground in Italy, I learned I had to drive WAY more aggressively. Like turn-left-in-front-of-people, dodge-motor-bikes, park-illegally, stay-out-of-the-fast-lane aggressive. Driving in Naples and the surrounding area is NOT for the faint of heart!
After a reunion dinner with friends from Youngstown, we found gelato (a must every day spent in Italy) and then called it a night.
Our next morning started bright and early with our Pompeii guide picking us up at our hotel. His name was Antonio Somma, and he was AMAZING!! I highly recommend him, if you plan to visit Pompeii. Walking through the ruins comes to life with a guide, and he helped us bypass the crowds. He’s from Pompeii, and he’s been doing this for a LONG time, so he was very knowledgable. We spent about two hours with him, and I thought it was the perfect amount of time. (And no, he didn’t pay me to write that review.)
The fact that we can walk through Pompeii today is pretty remarkable. Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. when somewhere between 11,000-23,000 people were living in Pompeii. They speculate that people would’ve had approximately 10 minutes between the explosion and their death. Some believe that there were a few people who escaped, but there are no records of that, so it’s possible the entire city was killed. What I learned for the first time during our visit is that the city of Pompeii was covered in volcanic ash (13-20 feet deep) – not lava. The lava spilled out another side of the volcano and went into the Mediterranean Sea. Had lava covered Pompeii, it would’ve been destroyed rather than preserved.
Over time, vegetation grew on top of the mound of volcanic ash and throughout the centuries, people began to inhabit the area again. It wasn’t until the 1700’s that the farmers living on the land started digging wells in search of water and discovered a buried city, which was very well preserved. Isn’t that WILD?!
[Excited to start our tour of the ruins with Antonio!]
[The former gymnasium]
[SHOPS! Pompeii was a city of shopping, eating, and brothels. An ancient version of Las Vegas or Amsterdam.]
[A bedroom in the brothel…yikes!]
[And the city was really large – as you can see from this view down the main street]
[Because the city would flood, they put these large stones in the road, so they could cross the street without getting wet. Chariots had to be the appropriate width in order to maneuver around these large stones.]
[Look at the mosaic tiles in this private residence!]
[Mount Vesuvius looked pretty ominous in the distance]
[Many of the remaining buildings have existing frescoes on the walls and ceilings, which I found amazing!]
[Skeletons found when the city was uncovered reminds you of the lives lost]
[The home of a wealthy person in town…multiple bedrooms, kitchen, courtyard, and other rooms!]
[One of the public kitchens in town. Not sure if this was a public snack bar or fast food restaurant, or if it was something like the communal kitchen in a college dorm. Either way, I’m sure someone was whipping up some delicious pizzas in that oven!]
[Coffee or hot soup anyone?]
[A number of body casts are displayed. This is how archaeologists found a number of bodies when the city was uncovered. Perfectly formed casts from the volcanic ash preserving the forms of people and animals that were killed.]
[A peaceful image of the powerful Mount Vesuvius overlooking the ruins of Pompeii]
[After our morning history lesson, we paused for a few minutes to enjoy a cappuccino. I know I have limited experience drinking coffee of any kind, but I have to say that cappuccinos in Italy are better than anywhere else!]