Pompeii, Capri, Sorrento


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Europe » Italy
June 16th 2018
Published: June 16th 2018
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I am a little behind so tonight I will do two days in one.

Friday June 15: We hit the road early and went to Pompeii. Many of you may recall that Pompeii was destroyed in 79 AD. Most archeologists would say it was preserved in 79 AD. Let me explain.

Mt Vesuvius erupted in the early afternoon covering the city of Pompeii with 65 feet of volcanic ash instantly killing everyone in the city and preserving the city almost entirely intact. It is therefore listed as the most intact archeological find of the Roman Era. The houses are mostly intact, save for wooden rooves which obviously burned in the Vulcanic cloud which hit the city at 65 miles per hour and 2000 degrees F.

The ash came so fast that people were buried alive or suffered horrible deaths by poisonous gas or incinerated by the extreme heat. Pliny the Younger chronicled the entire event so we have an excellent first-hand witness to the disaster.

Our guide met us at the entrance to the Gladiator training pavilion. Here 96 Gladiators, all of whom were slaves according to records of the time, were trained to die for entertainment. We visited their cells in which they were locked in every night, saw where their food was prepared and where they ate and trained. This was the first time we toured this area as it was not open when we last visited so that was a cool experience.

Next our guide took us down narrow perfectly straight roads past “shopping malls” small stalls where goods and items for daily use were sold. We even past several fast food restaurants! Recently they uncovered 14 loaves of bread in one of the newly excavated ovens. Amazing actually.

We toured the theater, where only comedies per performed and were treated to the amazing acoustics. Another one of the guides was singing “O Solo Mio” to his tour group so we had a chance to listen in. You could hear him from every corner of the amphitheater as if he had an amplifier.

Next was one of the baths, this one was the most complete and served all free men and women, in separate quarters of course. There were locker rooms, changing rooms, massage rooms, a hot bath, a cold bath, a jacuzzi and a place to sit and eat. They thought of every comfort for the local patrons. The women’s side was a complete duplicate of the men’s side save for the cold bath. Everyone knows women always complain about being cols, and it seems that have been doing so for thousands of years.

Our next stop was the red-light district. On the street in front of the cut off road was a rather obvious street sign carved into the paving stones. You could not miss it’s meaning.

The most complete brothel had 10 rooms each with a stone bed. The bed would be covered with stray for a little comfort. Outside the rooms were a number of, shall we say, menu’s showing what was available. Each option showed a number. Since this was a very cosmopolitan city, people came from all over. The prostitutes were slaves also from other countries. Since language was a barrier, a patron only had to choose his provider and point to a number on the wall and, well, that was that. A romp in the hay was the equivalent of 5 E today, quite expensive for the time.

We also learned that the brothels were called Lupinaria, which means wolf sounds.
The women would hang outside their window and call out “wooo, hooo, or other wolf calls hence the name.

We toured more of the city and stopped finally at the Forum. Here we learned more of the city’s history and got to meet some if Pompeii’s former residents.

At the time of the blast, people were buried alive and many left a cavity under the ash. There bodies quickly burned away due to the heat leaving bones behind. Early during the excavation many of these hollows were destroyed until a progressive Frenchman came up with a unique idea.

He pumped plaster into the cavity filling it completely. He let it set for a few days and then dug it up. What he had was a plaster case of the person with the bone inside! Amazing. They preserved dozens of people this was. On display were several including a dog, a woman protecting her baby and a young man who died in a sitting position.

Soon it was time to go, so we headed out to do some souvenir shopping at the many vendors that lined the street outside the excavation.

After Pompeii we headed up the Amalfi Coast and into Positano. Positano is a beautiful coastal town on the Mediterranean Sea. It is the home and playground of the rich and famous. Many Hollywood types come here to escape. The town is relatively small but beautiful.

We arrived at the top of the city and walked through winding streets lined on both sides with the most exclusive shops around. There were big name designers, handmade shoes; made to your foot while you wait. There were bars, gelateria and any number of ways to separate you from your money.

We walked down and down until we came to the beach. It was a small beach and instead of sand there was black Vulcanic rock. It was a little hard on the feet but after a few minutes walking barefoot, your feet were rubbed nice and clean.

Several of us took the opportunity to dip our feet into the Mediterranean. The water was warm, the seas calm and the crowds beautiful. We enjoyed the water for a short while when it soon came time to walk back up the hill and to our coach and off to Sorrento for the night.

We arrived in Sorrento a little after 7:30. Enough time for a quick shower before dinner at 8:00. Dinner was a delicious first course of Gnocchi, followed by a tender veal cutlet. This was washed down with wine a plenty and completed with fruit salad. By 9:30 I was beat and went directly to bed to prepare for Capri.

Saturday June 16, 2018 again we had and early departure as we had to catch the 8:00 AM ferry to the Isle of Capri. We arrived in the port in plenty of time to board the large ferry and whip along the Mediterranean from Sorento to Capri. The seas were calm and the weather perfect for the 50-minute ride.

Capri is beautiful but crowded. Everyone wants to go to Capri and they seemed to have picked today. Since Cathy and I have been her before we decided to skip the optional tour of the island by boat and walked around Capri Port to explore and enjoy the perfect weather. After an hour on our own the rest of the Trafalgar Family returned and we boarded the Funicular.

The Funicular is a cog railway that goes from the port of Capri to the center of Capri. For those more adventurous, there is an open chair lift to Ana Capri, the top of the Island. Chris and I did that the last time we were in Capri, so Cathy and I stayed in the island’s center city.

Our guide took us around the beautiful island, explained some history and pointed out the important sites. We enjoyed some Gelato, of course, and had a Granita or two as we walked the beautiful city.

When the tour was over, Cathy and I walked back to the Funicular station and sat down at a café to enjoy a light lunch. Once again, and all too soon, it was time to leave Capri behind and head off to the Mozzarella Farm.

Many of the farms, trying to make ends meet, opened their farms to tour groups about 20 years ago. This form of Agro Tourism was a boon to small family farms. Many of these small farms would have gone under if not for the tourists.

Trafalgar had a particular farm they take all their tours, so this location was in excellent financial straits. Upon arrival we were introduced to Maria. Maria makes the mozzarella by hand. This farm has 7 cows that provide the milk for the cheese. Ricotta, mozzarella and other cheeses are made here, all by hand and all using the same method from ancient times.

We learned that nothing goes to waste at this farm. The curds left over from making the mozzarella are collected and are used to make other cheeses like ricotta, which means recooked cheese, and cottage cheese.

After the demonstration it was time to eat the products! We sat down at outside tabled already set with cold water and white wines, also made at this farm. Next came plate after plate of delicacies. We enjoyed, three types of cheese, breads, olive spreads and salami. Next came a plate of eggplant and artichoke in olive oil. This was followed by pasta, also handmade, plated with pork, from their own pigs, eggplant, and other vegetables from the farm. We finished off with a cake soaked in rum and covered with a light cream, also hand made. The food was amazing.

After the food came a tour of the farm. I chose to sit it out as I have seen this before and there was still some wine left in our second bottle.

Once again, we boarded the bus for a ride to Sorrento proper. Our hotel was hosting a wedding and the manager did not want us back too soon, so we were offered some time in town to shop and see the sights.

Sorrento is known for everything lemon. There are lemon chocolates, limoncello, a favorite drink, and linens and ceramics all devoted to the lemon. After today I am going to need another suitcase to bring all this home!

Finally, at 7:30 in the evening we arrived at the hotel. It was a perfect day. Not too hot and no rain. Tomorrow we head of to Assisi and the tomb of St. Francis.

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