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Published: March 20th 2010
Pompei's Version of Fast Foodthe
This is where the ancient Pompeii-ians (?) could go and get a quick bite to eat. sort of like mcdonald's
We woke up this morning (Saturday) to the beautiful SUN. it was unfortunately windy (Italy had begun a freak weather pattern and the weather in the South was colder than it should have been...and no one was really prepared for the cold and didnt have the right clothes). but we were so excited about the sun that we ran to shore..across from our hotel, and waited for Giuliana there to take photos (knowing the tardiness of many of us, Giuliana told us to be outside and ready 15 minutes before the bus was coming to get us...so we had plenty of time for ocean pictures). The agenda for that day was to go to Pompeii, the city that was destroyed by ridiculously strong eruption of Mt. Vesuvius (the eruption was so strong that it blew OFF the top of the volcano, suspended it in the air for like 12 minutes, before overtaking the surrounding areas...destroying Herculaneum and then Pompeii).
We got on the bus for the 40 minute ride to Pompeii from Naples. The sun was still shining brightly when we got to Pompeii, but it was still a little windier than we wanted, but was very pleasant stanidng in
Okay, so here comes out the nerdy part of me. Pompeii is so cool. Its a little unfortunate that its only a tourist attraction but going in the beginning of march is kind of perfect because theyre arent too many tourists. but pompeii is ridiculously cool. i hear herculaneum is even cooler and even better preserved. however pompeii is epically cool, even the second time you see them.
what's cool about pompeii is that it lets you not only see how they lived 2000 years ago...but how similar it was to life now. there are remains of the old food stores with bucket holes where they used to put food near the windows where people can just go up and choose what they want. Pompeii's idea of fast food.
The location of Pompeii is absolutely beautiful too, in the hills with mountains in teh background. Every view is beautiful. Add in the tons of ruins all around and it is so cool to visit. Although normally tourist things aren't my favorite, Pompeii is something you need to see with either a guide or an audio-guide because if not its a bunch of similar looking buildings.
the cool part about pompeii is hearing about everything. from the mansions to the baths to the lupanare (the brothel).
The lupanare was the most memorable place. I hadn't seen it on my last visit to Pompeii, which i found out later that you cannot actually visit if you are a minor without being accompanied by a parent, which i was not. The reason for this, besides that it was a brothel, was the fact that there is the ancient version of porn on the walls. Seriously. There were very graphic paintings on each wall depicting a sexual act.
While I greatly enjoyed our tour guide, it may have been nice to have an english speaking one so i didnt have to pay attention to much to understand. its so much easier not to get tired so easily when you don't need to put your full attention on understanding everything. there was a lot that alessandro, our guide, said that went over my head because i lost focus.
the day continued as we walked through the city and came upon what was most memorable for me on my last visit: the bodies.
There are bodies that
have been recovered from the covering of Pompeii and they are simply haunting. They have teeth and the bodies are frozen in agony--the same position in which they died, covered in the ash from the erruption. It is haunting and mesmorizing and difficult to look away. The majority of the bodies are no longer at Pompeii but at the archeological museum in Napoli. However, the three or four that they have on site at Pompeii is haunting enough.
After a long day at Pompeii, it was FINALLY time for some lunch. We got back in the bus to drive to a hotel for lunch. The lunch wasn't bad (severe improvement over yesterday) but it wasn't the best. After lunch we had some time to rest before meeting back up to go to the center of the city to meet for the Sottoterenea tour (the underground of Napoli).
Before going to the sottoterenea, we had coffee and pastries at the famous cafe Grambrinus. I got caffe' nocciolo, which is a mixture of espresso, hazelnut, and chocolate--excellent. Unlike in Bologna, where there arne't enough tourists to make this worth it, in Napoli it costs twice as much to sit down
and drink coffee than to merely get it at a bar. I miss AnticaBologna where I can get a cappuccino and a brioche for 2.30 euro AND can sit down, whereas getting a coffee here would cost four euros just to sit down. Not cool (we learn later that this is very common for the majority of italian tourist cities because it's an easy way to make money on unsuspecting or tired tourists).
The sottoterranea was pretty cool, not at all what i expected though, except now that i think about it, i'm not sure what i expected. the sottoterranea are the underground caverns of napoli built during the time when the greeks ruled naples....like 5,000 years ago. And they're still standing. originally there were acquaducts built. Which is kind of insane when you think about it. i stood in these crazy far underground caverns that were built FIVE THOUSAND years ago. I can't really even comprehension that kind of time. It's completely different from seeing pompeii because there it's like time sort of stopped (in the way that they try to make time stop with modern conveniences such as bathrooms and snack carts) and everything is contained. a little piece of history preserved. but the sottoterranea is UNDER the city. napoli has changed but the sottoterranea really hasn't. it was built 5000 years ago, and for 5000 years people have been coming to the same gray chambers for various reasons, while the city above it has changed with the times. thats crazy.
We had this ridiculously crazy tour guide who should be in movies lead us around teh caverns...the only problem was that he spoke napolitano (the neopolitan dialect) far more than he actually spoke italian. if you have ever heard napolitano, its WAY different than italian and hard to understand. even eleonora, our italian intern, had a difficult time understanding him, and she's from italy. giuliana, who is from the South i believe had to stop and translate his stories into actually italian. but just listening to his voice and the projections and different voices he did was really amusing, and except for crawling through TINY TINY tunnels (I am not a fan of) it was a lot of fun. Although, it was a long, longgggg day.
Afterwards we walked around the center of Napoli for a while before heading back to our hotel to rest for a bit. Then dinner (because people eat dinner here after 8 or 9) at Antonio & Antonio, a place on the water down the street from our hotel. It was so good and a pretty reasonable price for the shit ton of food that we ate. It was crazy.
Good second day. Domani (tomorrow): Vesuvius
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