Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Naples and Pompeii

The boat discharged us late, about 12.30, in to the chaos of Naples traffic and on to their appalling road surfaces. We headed out of town on a major road of potholed cobbles with broken drain covers, no road signs and a self-inflicted maximum speed for all traffic other than some crazy scooter riders of 20 kph or your vehicle would be shaken to pieces. The road lined with shops, offices and workshops topped by storeys of apartments with washing billowing from their windows and balconies. Cars, vans and trucks double and even triple parked and emerging from all directions. This went on for about 40 minutes until we decided to head inland and get onto the toll autostrada and head straight for Pompeii, abandoning all thoughts of finding Herculaneum.

Being on a bike we were able to park right outside the entrance to the Pompeian ruins instead of having to pay for parking hundreds of metres away. We put our jackets and other gear in our Pacsafe stainless steel mesh basket and locked it to the bike. That way we could walk around in the heat without having to carry them.

Everyone knows the story of Pompeii and what has been found by the archaeologists, but we were amazed by the scale of it and how much of the town is still standing. The old city covers 66 hectares of which 50 have been excavated to reveal streets of buildings including the forum, temples, markets, shops, houses, baths, a laundry and municipal offices. None have roofs but most have walls still standing to full height many with frescoes, sculptures and mosaics. The Mount Vesuvius eruption of 79 A.D. which covered it all in ash and rock preserved it amazingly.

Vesuvius in the background

After spending 2 and a half hours there and seeing only a fraction of it we got back on the bike and returned to the heavy traffic with the aim of finding a hotel as soon as possible. An hour later we decided that anywhere would do so we stopped at the next hotel which happens to be high up on the Cliffside looking towards Sorrento. It’s one of those places where the proprietor personally introduces himself and shakes your hand when you arrive and the porter takes the luggage to your room. At a claimed heavily discounted price of 100 euros including breakfast it is still beyond our budget but just look at the view from our balcony.

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