Naples, Pompei, Sorrento, and Capri
13.07.2010 95 °F
We so enjoyed our time in the Naples, Italy area, and only wish we had more time here! What a great part of the world. Our day started out pulling into the port of Naples (Napoli), which is actually a much bigger city than either of us expected.
We travelled by bus to Pompeii, the ancient city (built around 400-100 BC) that was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Mount Vesuvius is actually at least 2 miles away from the city of Pompeii, but the eruption still covered the city with 21 feet of ash! Most of the rich were able to escape, as there were several tremors before the actual eruption, and the 2,000 people that died were mainly slaves. Luckily for us, the ash formed a chalky plaster that perfectly preserved everything in the city, even when buried far underground. The restoration and reconstruction started in 1748, and they’ve been working on it consistently since then, but almost 33% of the city is still buried! 5 years ago, UNESCO (which funds the reconstruction efforts of Pompeii) decided to work on restoring the parts that have already been uncovered (that are now falling apart after over 250 years) rather than uncovering more. Anyway, the details of the city that were preserved were fascinating, and it was so fun to walk around and envision life in Pompeii so long ago, just as we did in Ephesus. Here are a few shots of Pompeii, and you can see Vesuvius in the background in a few of them.
One of the most interesting things was the roads, which you can see in several of the pictures. The sewage system flowed directly into the roads constantly, so they had a stream of clean water running down the streets also to “clean” them. The roads, then, were always wet, which made for some slippery carriage driving, so the sidewalks were very high to protect citizens. They also had small white pieces of marble embedded in the roads (as you see here) to reflect the moonlight and illuminate the roads, in lieu of a lighting system. Pretty advanced! Also pretty advanced were the sliding doors found on the stoop of each shop - you can see the furrow in this picture.
Throughout the city, we saw several temples, courthouses, main squares, and arches. I will include several pictures here before mentioning a few more interesting facts.
We came across a pottery shop, which was perfectly preserved – everything you see here is ORIGINAL pottery from 79 AD! Can you believe how well the ash preserved everything? If you look in the middle of the picture, you can also see a man’s body – he was found lying on the floor of this pottery shop.
We also came across a few bakeries, which were so interesting! Do you recognize the brick oven – it’s the EXACT same as we use today! The other object is a flour mill – Pompeii exported flour as its main source of revenue, and there would be a huge bar stuck through the holes in this mill, with a man on either side pushing the bar in circles. This would grind the flour. I think you had to be there to understand! We also saw a bar, which consisted of a high marble bar/ table, just as we have today, with a few circular holes that were used to hold the terra cotta pitchers, that would keep hot drinks warm and cold drinks cool. In the last picture in this set (with the arches), the archaelogists uncovered 3,000 coins that looked very different from the other coins they had found throughout the houses and shops of Pompeii. It took them a while to realize that this was the foreign exchange shop – holding coins from Spain, Libya, what is now Turkey, and several other places! This blows my mind.
We also entered the Forum Baths, kind of like a public YMCA where you would go to work out and shower. It had 4 rooms – one for bodybuilding, followed by a very hot one that had underground wells full of boiling water, which released steam up into the room. Notice the ceilings in this room – they are ridged so that the condensation would stream down the sides instead of dripping on the bathers! After the hot room, you’d go into a bath full of medium-temperature water, and finally into the cold water before getting dressed and leaving.
Finally, we entered a house – this was considered a small house, but we were shocked at how big it was! The main area had an open sunlight (hole in the ceiling), where rain would pour into the basin in the middle of the floor, which drained into an underground well that was accessible by pulley. They had summer and winter sections of the houses – the summer section was mainly a garden, and the walls of the garden held beautiful mosaics and paintings that created an illusion of a larger room, or being able to see out. They had no windows (since it would offer no protection from the elements), so these mosaics and paintings helped them feel like they were outside. Can you believe how well they were preserved? Also of note in the house was the dining room - the Pompeiians really enjoyed their feasts! So much so that they ate on mattresses, lying down, to facilitate napping in the middle of the meal Half of the time, it was to digest their food so they could eat more, and the other half it was to recover a bit from all the wine they had been drinking. The richer families even had comedians come in during the dinner period to wake up the sleepers! How funny! We learned a lot in Pompeii and felt very lucky to be able to visit it.
After Pompeii, we drove about one hour to Sorrento, where we had lunch. It was a traditional Italian restaurant and was delicious! The first course was long ravioli-like pasta filled with spinach and ricotta, followed by chicken breast with mozzarella, eggplant and zucchini, and potatoes. They had “specialty cake” for dessert, which were almost too full to enjoy! We got to walk around Sorrento for about an hour after lunch, and enjoyed the shops and people watching before walking down this massive staircase to the port! Here are a few pretty shots of the coastline of Sorrento!
At the port, we boarded a hydro-foil (we’re not sure why it was called that – it just seemed like a boat to us!), which took us to the island of Capri. Before we got on, we got a few more shots of the Sorrento coastline...
All I can say is WOW – we absolutely adored Capri. We still can’t decide if we like Capri or St. Lucia more … St. Lucia will always be “our” place since we got engaged there, but Capri came pretty close to it scenery-wise! I think we’ll have to go back to both to solve this issue – ha! Here are a few shots of the coastline.
We boarded a funicular to go to the top of the city, and took several pictures again from the top – what a beautiful view! We couldn’t get enough. Our guide then took us on a walking tour of the city, which was again filled with narrow, shop-lined, cobblestone streets and was very pleasant. Here is a famous hotel, Quisisana, where all the celebs supposedly stay – last week Angela Merkel was here! Here is another shot of the lemons – they are famous for their lemons and take lots of pride in them, and they are HUGE!
Our tour finished in the Augustus Gardens, which were simply stunning and very well kept. It was private property until the owner left it in his will as a public park, and thank goodness he did because it holds the best views on the island!
I am just going to let these speak for themselves – how beautiful! Kev would be mad if I didn’t mention all the nice yachts that you see – they were pretty amazing!
Notice this incredibly windy road … there are no cars allowed in the city center, and because of the incredible views, many of the hotels are located high up on the cliffs. As a result, the further you have to walk, the cheaper the hotel is, but the better the view is! We decided that when we come back, we want to stay at Hotel Villakrupp (pictured here), which is apparently VERY nice and even higher than where we stood today, but would be a pretty long walk. The nice thing is that they take your suitcases up for you via electric scooter-type thing, so we are sure we can handle the walk! I just can’t say enough about how gorgeous Capri was – we were sad to leave and will definitely be returning in the future!!! We had some gelato before we left – of course!
We took an hour boat ride back to our ship in Naples, boarded, and hit the gym quickly. This was a FULL day of touring, and we were wiped out, so we decided to just go to the buffet instead of the restaurant for dinner. It was fine, but nothing special, and Rover wasn’t hungry so we didn’t get any pictures. We also did some laundry and are turning in for the night, before another long but exciting day in Rome tomorrow. Thanks for reading!