My interest in ancient Rome really leapfrogged six weeks ago when I visited all sites in the title. My brother-in-law and I were there for five days - and I want to go back! I have been interested in Rome ever since I was a Boy. This went as far as me wanting to study archaeology after school. However, this caused some uproar from my parents and other relatives so I did architecture instead - sigh!
Anyway, my youngest son ended his dinosaur-Phase last year (every young lad has a dinosaur-phase) and this marked the beginning of the volcano-phase. Talking about volcanoes, Pompeii is never far away. As we now live in the wonderful age of the Internet, I came acoss material I could only have dreamed of so far. I visited Pompeii for the first time in 1982, but this was only for a day. The more I studied Ancient Rome earlier this year, the more I wanted to go back to Pompeii. I have three young children and clearly spending a while visiting dusty ol sites wouldn't exactly fit their idea of a nice holiday so I decided to ask my brother-in law instead if he wanted to join in. He immediatly agreed.
So we took off for a two-hour flight to Naples on a Saturday morning and arrived there at lunchtime. We got the hire-car and drove to the hotel. Our first trip that day took us to the magnifcent Amphitheatre at Capua. The site is enormously impressive! It was a sizzling hot day and we were pleased to examine the cool underground cellars and cells. So much is still intact beneath the Arena.
Isn't that splendid? I love these stairs! How many spectators actually walked here and watched the gruesome spectacle?
Capua is easily recogniseable as one of the wealthiest cities in Campania. (Almost) Everything was tidy and clean. A far cry from what most of the Bay of Naples looks like!
On Sunday we had Herculaneum on our list. We decided not to go strolling around by ourselves but to take part in a guided tour. The tour-guide waits until enough people have gathered and then takes you on a two-hour tour and after that you pay him/her how much you feel it was worth! It was worth every penny! On these tours you get to see so much more than walking around there guideless!
The house of the Telephus Relief:
What we weren't aware of is that Italy virtually closes down between 12:00 and 16:00! By the time we found a restaurant that was open, of course after 16:00 we were starving! We ate on the western slope of Mount Vesuvius overlooking Naples when a severe thunderstorm crossed us! What a sight!
Looking Sourth we couldn't even see Capri anymore!
Monday morning: Pompeii. The weather was attrocious! It was belting down! Anyway - better than being baked in the sun I thought! We were there at opening hours: at ten. Thousands of people flocked into the ancient city. Let me give you some advice: if you go to Pompeii - go there in the early afternoon. By then the crowds will have dispersed and a lot of people even left!
Shortly before midday it stopped raining:
I quite like this view because the Forum in Roman days was a crowded place. And this is what it was like on that Monday - it was a crowded place. When I was there in 1982 I had the impression that I was the only one there! And that was in Summer too.
This view is now my screensaver:
My brother-in-law doesn't like being in a crowd, there were too many people. We decided to leave. So after about five hours in Pompeii we drove up to the crater of Mount Vesuvius. You have to walk about the last mile or so. It was unbelievable! It Pompeii it was 34C° - on the top of Mount Vesuvius it was only 16°C!
Pompeii as seen from Mount Vesuvius: Pompeii is the greyish shade in the upper left corner. You can make out the Forum:
Tuesday: off to Stabiae! From here is where Pliny the Elder witnessed the Reuption in 79 ad. Here you can see yours truly very impressed by the sight. We are 15km from Vesuvius! And no, the volcano is not erupting, it is just clouds forming around the crater.
Well, I have just tried to post and I have been told that I have posted more pictures than I'm allowed. I will delete the following and post it tomorrow once this has been approved by the moderators.
See you tomorrow! Peter