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Published: November 14th 2009
Day 22 Salerno to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast
We took a train from Salerno to Pompeii today...I slept in, so we left at 9:00 instead of 8:00....So we got to Pompeii around 10:00. The train we took wasn't in the guide, and turned out to be a great trip...it ran on a different line than the train from Napoli, surprisingly...and the views were great. We traveled through a mountain pass rather than through tunnels, as we expected. We only had to walk for about 15 minutes from the station the park entrance..the cab drivers at the station told us it was 3k!
Once at the park, we fought our way through a few tour groups (American and German this time) and had a pleasant three hour walk around old Pompeii....I had a very early memory of seeing a National Geographic article on Pompeii and the deep affect the photos of the dead had on me. I had expected to see more of the body casts in the homes where they were found, but there was only one...and there were only a few in the Forum shed on display. One of the best things is that they are using
It was harder to really get the feel of the city here, since the walls are higher than at Paestum....and you can only walk in certain areas...Paestum gave you a better feel for the set up of the homes, since you could see the floorplans...I was glad to have visited there first...
the casts of roots found in the ground to identify the crops and plants that were growing at the time of the eruption, and have recreated the gardens and vineyards in many places.
Another interesting thing that was going on as we toured were the tasks of the Italian Humane Society and an animal rights organization with the Pompeii dogs. They were being tagged and identified, and would be vaccinated later.
After leaving Pompeii, we took another train to Sorrento, where we changed to a bus for the two hour trip to Amalfi. The bus wound along the spectacular coast and then up into the mountains, and back to coast. We ate in Amalfi, and met some great people at dinner....ran and caught the 7:00pm bus back to Salerno....tired, but happy!
Day 23 Salerno to Syracuse
We spent the whole day in the train....many tunnels, but many spectacular views. We didn't realize how much beach there is south of Naples...and how much it is built up for Italian summer vacationers...condos everywhere!
The train cars are put on a ferry to cross to Sicily...very cool. The man in our compartment lies in Turin but was traveling
Amazing to think how old these are...almost 2000 years...
home to help with the olive harvest. He spoke no English, but we managed to talk about the Greek myths and the volcanoes....he showed us around the ferry, and then to his embarrassment (and our discomfort...) we got locked out of the train just before we docked....it all ended well without us running down the tracks....
We arrived in Syracuse after dark, and tired. I was only hoping to find a clean hotel....we started to walk from the train station, passing arguing drunks and what I thought was a dirty-looking MacDonald’s (actually a bar with a ad sign for MacDonald’s in front of it)...and my expectations downgraded quickly to just finding a hotel...and there is was, the LOL Hostel...just opened in August, and straight out of an Ikea catalogue(literally....all the dishes, furnishings are from Ikea)...glowing bright and spotless on the dark street!
We will stay here for the next 4-5 days and tour Sicily (or at least this side...)
Day 24 Syracuse
We walked to the archeological park today, and visited the Greek and Roman theaters, along with other sights. The history here is multilayered and complex: Greeks, Jews, Romans....all lived on this tiny island just
off the coast. It was an immensely important town for a very long time....Archimedes lived and died here....and known always for its beauty. http://www.italyguides.it/us/sicily_italy/syracuse/teatro_greco/greek_theater.htm
After the park we visited the modern church of the "Weeping Virgin Mary", which holds the small ceramic bust of Mary that began weeping tears for several days in 1953.
Next we strolled the old part of town, eating by the harbor, and stopping for a few cafes...
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