Aw, but it was real and I was to discover it myself today. We met our guide, Jose, at 9 and we drove the thirty minutes to get to Pompeii. Like its namesake, there is a new Pompeii built around the ancient city and it looks much the same as other cities, except it has a sleeping giant that flanks it and a cautionary tale that attracts as many as two to three thousand people a day (on a slow day).
When Vesuvius blew back in Oct 59 AD, the city was nearly four hundred years old, at least according to our guide. It was a very rich and prosperous city, with less of a demarcation between classes as there existed elsewhere. When the volcano blew, it literally blew out its top, creating a pyroclastic flow that reached Pompeii in a matter of minutes. It buried everything under 20 meters of ash and lava, preserving much of the city just as it was that day.
There were a hoard of folks selling their wares and offering food and drink. It didn’t take away from what was just a few yards away, strangely enough. We entered the city by means of the Quadriportico del Teatri and we saw where gladiators fought and where they lived. Then we moved on to a beautifully preserved amphitheater where one of our members sang for us, to demonstrate the acoustics. From there we moved onto a main road and there were restaurants and bars, as one would expect around theatres.
I won’t go site by site, although we did enter the house of a member of the upper class, with its lovely frescos, still vibrant and lovely. We saw houses of prostitution and even a public fountain, whose claim to fame were pipes, sadly lead pipes. Pompeii was a city busy killing itself, sadly. We saw five casts of bodies that had been discovered: a woman, the ‘praying’ man, a child, a pregnant woman and that of a dog. To me, it was the last one that was the saddest. You could almost see the terror on the dog’s face as it tried to protect itself.
We walked over nearly three house and saw very little of the 22 acres that had been uncovered. Our guide said it would take three full days to explore everything. My hat is off to him for not losing anyone in the maze of streets and buildings. We were given about twenty minutes to look around once we got back to the ticket booth. I got a tee shirt, paying too much for it, but when am I going to come back to Pompeii?
We headed back for the ship, all the time the guide is talking about all the other things to see in Naples. Sadly, after all the waking over, up, and down cobblestone roads, I was too pooped to care. They told us to dress in layers and that was just silly. We were so overdressed that all of us were sweltering even after stripping down to our final layer. Hot, thirsty and need of a toilet, I headed back for the ship while TBG looked at some of the things being offered inside the cruise center.
He was pretty much on my heels, however, as he arrived in the cabin just after I did. We dumped everything off and went up to the buffet. It wasn’t surprising to see everyone hanging around outside the pizzeria. Our guide spoke often of pizza. I resisted and settled for a nice salad, which is what I have been having for lunch when on board. It’s the only way to fight the battle of the bulge. :D
We spent the afternoon repacking our suitcases and getting all the loose ends cleaned up. The day sped by and suddenly night was upon us. This was the first time we were in port so late that we actually saw lights from the city. We showered, made sure we had everything we needed for the next day and put our suitcases out. That accomplished, TBG headed downstairs to check on our folio and I headed up to the library to return some books that I had borrowed. We met up in the dining room.
It was an emotionally affair because I really enjoyed our little group this time. It will be hard to not see their smiling faces again at dinner. Lazlo was preparing a pasta di vodka, a dish with cream, vodka, a little white wine, some chopped tomatoes and smoked salmon. We had it as an appetizer and it was so great – the perfect balance. We followed with Caesars and then I had Osso Busko (I know I’m spelling that wrong) and TBG had a chicken and leek pot pie and a steak. For dessert, it was Baked Alaska. There was the usual parade of the waiters and assistant waiters and the introduction of the kitchen staff. It is nice that Princess recognizes them as they do.
We said good night and good bye to the dining room staff and it was back to the cabin for a bit more of Grace and Favour and bed. I hope you’ve enjoyed the cruise. Now we are off to three days in Rome! Ciao, bella!