Italy
Piazza Schettini

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18 travelers at this place:

  • Day29

    Getting to Pompei

    September 24, 2017 in Italy

    Up early for the train from Termini to Tiburtina, transfer to the bus station and on the bus. This was a sentence written without much turmoil. On the day however, everything was pretty easy until we got to the bus station, only to be met with chaos. It was bound to happen since I am sure I had only uttered the day before that the train and bus network in France and Italy had worked like clockwork, down to the minute just about. We arrived at the bus station at least an hour ahead of schedule, where there was absolutely no indication of what to do next. A line of angry people were lined up at the "ticket office" (although perhaps they were not angry, just speaking in dramatic Italian). One guy did dare to queue jump, at which time there was a bit of anger directed at him - that much can be deduced without the need to understand the language.

    It would appear the board which told you which platform you had to go to was broken, and with only one girl working the counter (despite another man standing around behind her doing what looked like "nothing"), she didn't really care to help people. To be fair, she may have just been sick of being yelled at about the broken billboard despite it only being 7.30am.

    So the only way to know which bus you had to get on, was to stand around, wait for one of your bus company's buses to pull in, rush to the bay to see if that was yours, and bravo if it was. So, that is exactly what we did. Bit of a trial run for tomorrow because we are going to be back here to catch the same bus company to Siena.

    The bus journey was great and we drove past Vesuvius and through Naples. That was an eye-opener! Imagine scouting for a post-apocalyptic movie location - do yourself a favour and go to Naples - will save heaps of time! Graffiti, overgrown, run-down, neglected, slums, rubbish everywhere, mafia-controlled, barely habitable...
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  • Day29

    Pompei

    September 24, 2017 in Italy

    For a world-famous archaeological site, there was little by way of signage or information about how to actually get into the place if you arrive by bus. Even Google maps seemed strangely silent and eventually misleading on the matter. We did eventually find our way to the main gate, after stopping in a great restaurant for the best valued pizza.

    Pompei itself was gigantic and we had a bit of fun trying to interpret the maps with minimal information provided that didn't match up with most of the signage. The kids enjoyed themselves, and it was quite different to what I expected.Read more

  • Day23

    Pompeii Part I

    May 6, 2016 in Italy

    Warning: Long post ahead!

    This is the highlight of the trip so far, according to Flora. She is a lover of ancient history, especially ones of archaeological nature. We got a tour guide to show us around after numerous advice from people that have visited before. A very wise decision indeed.

    First established in 6-7th century BC, Pompeii was engulfed in a thick layer of ash and lava when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. Pompeii was downwind of the eruption and bore the brunt of the first phase of the eruption. However, what survived the onslaught of debris was preserved very well. We started in the auditoriums in which the Pompeiians would have enjoyed a day of entertainment. Much of the stone seats were preserved.

    It is amazing how much archaeologists have managed to deduce from their findings. As we walked through the streets of Pompeii, the tour guide pointed out the impressions in the stone made by wagon wheels back when Pompeii was an important, bustling city. We touched the bricks and mortar of the city which was more than 2000 years old. Can you imagine touching something that old? These guys sure know how to build things that last.

    The more we looked, the more in awe we were of this ancient civilisation. They have thought of everything: advanced plumbing system, drainage, stepping stones on roads so pedestrians crossing puddles in the road wouldn’t get wet, public baths, public toilets, shops that sold food like modern-day cafeterias, even brothels!

    Shops selling food still had their thermopolium (or counters) intact. These were often clad with different pieces of marble. Over 2000 years ago, the Pompeiians were already making marble benchtops! Some of the thermopolia were so well preserved that the marble was in excellent condition and the earthenware jars (or dolia as they were known) that are embedded in them to keep hot food were still completely intact. Curry, anyone?

    The guide took us to a seedy part of the city where brothels were in abundance. How did one know that a house contained a prostitute? Easy, just look out for the stone penis that hung above the door (no joke!). There is believed to have only been one purpose-built brothel. Lupanare was a two-storey brothel with small, cramped, windowless rooms for entertaining clients. In each room, there was a stone bed where a mattress would have laid to render sexual services. On the walls, there were erotic paintings or frescoes that have been extremely well-preserved. These showed all manners of sexual positions, assumed to be somewhat of a menu of the services offered. There were lots of chuckles when we saw this.

    The public baths cut a very different picture. It was a very large compound, complete with male and female change-rooms. Male and female hot baths were separated. The warm and hot baths were heated by a furnace behind the wall which fed pipes underneath the bath floors. The mosaics and frescoes that remain were astounding.

    Finally, we came to a warehouse where archaeologists have stored all the earthenware, statues and tables uncovered during careful excavations. Amongst the collection, there were some plaster casts of victims of the eruption. In 1864, Giuseppe Fiorelli, the director of excavations, discovered a technique to capture body shapes trapped in volcanic ash after soft tissues had decayed. He instructed his diggers to pour plaster into hollow pockets, let them dry for a few days before chipping away at the volcanic ash to reveal whole plaster cast of victims at the time of their death. CT scans of some of these plaster casts have since revealed near-complete skeletons and full sets of teeth.

    As I look at Mount Vesuvius from the ancient square, I can’t imagine the terror felt by Pompeii’s inhabitants as they watched volcanic ash and lava spewing out of its mouth. It is the only active volcano on the European mainland and it is a matter of time before it erupts again. The last eruption was in 1944 but it was not destructive. There are approximately 3 million people living within the red zone of Vesuvius. With the chaotic traffic in the area, one would hope that the authorities have got a bulletproof (or volcano-proof) evacuation plan.

    There is so much to write about Pompeii, but perhaps it is better told through photos. Flora could have spent days just roaming around this ancient city. If you appreciate ancient history, this city should be on your bucket list.
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  • Day57

    Pompeii: Preserved in its Prime

    October 30, 2017 in Italy

    Early ish start to get to Pompeii. Took a train to the less popular entrance (anfiteatro). Had a scare not getting to validate our tickets but conductor was nice so no problems.

    Met a Slovakian girl who didn't know where to go so walked and chatted with her (15min from train station to ruins). Ran into her 3 other times and had nice chats.

    Went into Pompei itself and walked around. Saw heaps of things and used an app to find out more when we were particularly interested. Amphitheatre was cool - not giant but interesting (Pink Floyd recorded an album/song there once).

    Definitely helped having more information, but a good guide book or app or audio guide would do the same. Unsure whether a tour would've helped. The bits we overheard weren't amazing although some sections were intriguing. One guide explained about how the middle of the street would have basically been sewage so animals would go there but people would walk on the raised sidewalks.

    Pottered around by ourselves and really enjoyed it. Found a bakery which was interesting - you could still see the ovens and mill stones. Also walked through a brothel with some small rooms and rather explicit frescoes on the walls! Although rather unexpectedly the most explicit freco we saw wasn't at the brothel... but at the house of some rich merchants. Odd.

    Grabbed a bite to eat (took ages, should've brought a packed lunch). Wandered some more. Plenty of tourists but still had some bits to ourselves. And quite hot though nice when sun was behind clouds. Would not want to go on a hot and busy day - would be too many people and too much heat we suspect.

    Ended up at the other end (a very large site overall), to finish at the Villa of Mysteries - thankfully had it almost to ourselves. The villa is famous for its beautiful frescoes, which are exceptionally well preserved. Crazy to think that they've lasted this long.

    Exited the site and walked the 40min back to the station. Went past the main, more touristy station and was glad we missed it. Way pricier. And super touristy.

    Had a gelato (2 flavours on a cone and just €1 each - a steal). Yum. Got a magnet, got a coffee, got train tickets (and validated them this time) and back to Salerno. A fun day all in all.
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  • Day19

    Pompeii

    April 23, 2016 in Italy

    Day 19 and 20
    I arrived in Sorrento.
    It's a small but very nice town.
    It is full of tourists.

    In my first day i wondered the streets and shops and had some fantastic roast pork and potato pizza.

    2nd day i went to the Pompeii ruins.
    Now i under estimated how big the ruins actually were.
    You literally walk the whole city.
    Took me a solid 5 hours.

    But mainly its just streets and streets of broken houses.
    I thought that there would be a museum type section that would house the bodys and what not. I was wrong.
    You had to walk, normally there'd only be 1 cast.
    But 1 house had 9 people.
    A lot of the bodies they found they moved to a museum in Naples.
    I didnt take that many photos as it all kinda looked the same.
    After a long day im very tired. But still enough energy to get more pizza.
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  • Day4

    Pompeii

    October 25, 2016 in Italy

    Our last sightseeing stop was a visit to Pompeii, an ancient Roman city buried by volcanic ash with Mt. Vesuvius's eruption in 79 AD. Although we had a very knowledgeable guide, we only got to see about 10 percent of the ruins. We will certainly need to go back someday! We got pictures of a fresco inside a Pompeii home, a cast of a baby who died in the hot winds of Vesuvius, a picture of us in front of Vesuvius, as well as photos of the city's forum, a bath house, and a public restroom.Read more

  • Day4

    Pompei

    May 14, 2015 in Italy

    On our final full day in beautiful Italy, we woke up bright, and early, and went to Pompeii. Originally we planned to spend a few hours in Pompeii, and then check out the museum, or go to Sorrento. This, however, did not work out because Pompeii is huge! We did not expect it to be as big as it was, and we actually ended up being there until it closed.

    We recommend getting a tour guide, because it'll give you a better chance to appreciate everything just a little bit more. We did not have one, and ended up just going building to building. While this did not take anything away from Pompeii, we do wish we knew more about some of the buildings we were looking at.

    Pompeii is an incredible place to be, especially when considering the history of it, and to see Mount Vesuvius in the background just makes the entire experience more interesting. To see the bodies that have been frozen in time only makes you wonder what these people were thinking when the volcano erupted.

    All that being said, if you're planning a trip to Italy, consider going to Pompeii, but plan to be there a long time.
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Piazza Schettini

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