Pompeii: In the Shadows of VesuviusOctober 27, 2017 in Italy
In order to beat the crowds and maximise our time at the Pompeian ruins, we left the apartment just after the crack of dawn (well, maybe not quite that early but early enough). The first challenge in our amazing race was to navigate the Italian train system once again. Italians don't believe in providing signage and this includes letting people know the platform number at some train stations. The first sign letting commuters know the platform number is only available after descending into the depths of the metro system, into the bowels of the earth, on the platform. There were no signs indicating which trains were arriving and we blindly jumped on what we thought was the correct train. Google Maps said so. It was the correct platform, the correct time (although it did seem to leave two minutes early) and there were no other trains scheduled for the same platform. Who would have guessed that the Italian railway system experiences such long delays that the train scheduled for 40 minutes earlier had finally arrived. Fortunately, we realised the error of our ways before it was too late and were able to steer back on course. And luckily the train we needed to catch was also delayed, getting us to the gates of the archaeological site shortly after the opening time.
For almost eight hours, Ricky made Jason trapes across Pompeii, checking out everything and anything that was open for inspection. Similar to the train system where trains sometimes don't arrive, not everything in Italy is open. Even in Pompeii, some of the houses weren't open for inspection – Ray White or Raine and Horne property managers were obviously not available to provide their services.
From the moment we entered the grounds of Pompeii, we were on a mission to get past the tour groups and the tick-box tourists, as we headed straight to the Villa of Mysteries, one of the better preserved villas. Our strategy was successful and we were the first to arrive at the villa. Most other tourists hung about in the Forum or went straight to the brothel, by-passing the villas, bars and restaurants. While Pompeii hasn't exactly been frozen in time, there are certainly a lot of remnants of what life was like during the first century C.E. The plaster casts of many of the victims of Vesuvius, some still on display, portray the final eery moments of that fateful afternoon on the 24th of August 79 CE. Thankfully Mount Vesuvius didn't erupt while we were there, but the slightest tremor and we were on the first ship out of there.
Next stop: back to Napoli.
For video footage, see: