Day 2: Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius

Pompeii Travel Blog

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Plaster of a man huddling during the disaster.

"Come here Ms. Texas.  Touch this wall.  It is 2600 years old.  There are no walls like this in your country."  Guido, the tour guide.

Our day began with breakfast at the hotel: warm french bread, cheese, salami, cereal, red (?!) orange juice and lemon poundcake.  Next we head out to meet a bus for a day long tour of Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius.  Quick history lesson: in August 79 AD, Mt. Vesuvius erupted sending toxic gas fumes, mud and ash into the air.  In 150 seconds, the town of Pompeii (with a population of 20,000) was covered in 2 stories of the mud and ash.  The city was to remain covered for the next 1700 years until archaeologists discovered it in the 19th century.

Remnants of a once bright and lovely room.
  When they did discover the ruins, the bodies of the inhabitants had long ago decomposed, but they were still able to make plaster molds of them because the mud had kept their forms so well-preserved.  Needless to say, Pompeii is an amazing place. 

We were impressed with the sophistication of a city that is 2000 years old.  Some of the highlights included a handmade sewer system, sliding front doors, hitching posts, indoor saunas, walk-up fast food counters and bars, crown mouldings and traffic barricades.  We got to tour their forum, basilica and some homes.  One home caught our eye.  It's entryway featured a mosaic of a black dog and the Latin words "Cave Canium" or "Beware of Dog."  Apparently even the Romans were worried about potential lawsuits.  Another house (the governor's) featured a mosaic floor of Alexander the Great defeating the Persians that contained more than a 1.

This was a walk-up fast food restaurant. The holes are where fires were built to keep the individual pots cooking.
5 million small stones in it.  More sobering was the preserved body plasters that archaeologists have created.  There was a man curled up in the fetal position, a pregnant woman clutching her belly and a helpless dog tied to a chain. 

From Pompeii, we headed to the culprit herself, Mt. Vesuvius.  Mt. Vesuvius is still an active volcano having last erupted (with less deadly of consequences) in 1944.  (A side note, when it erupted in 79 it was 12,000 feet tall.  Today it is barely over 3,000 feet).  Our guide dropped us off at the bottom and wished us luck as we trekked up the mountain (and then back down again).  It was steep, dusty and very hot.  The trail was made up of gravel and sand (making for very tedious climbing and me in sandals, nonetheless), but after 40 minutes we made it.  The crater is impressive and makes quite an echo.  You can also look back on the city of Naples and its harbor from here. 

After a quick descension, our group stopped for lunch and then headed back to Naples.  We were still feeling jet lagged so we made it an early night and went straight to bed.

alyssa_ob says:
This was one of my favorite stops in Italy!
Posted on: Jul 18, 2008
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Plaster of a man huddling during t…
Plaster of a man huddling during …
Remnants of a once bright and love…
Remnants of a once bright and lov…
This was a walk-up fast food resta…
This was a walk-up fast food rest…
Brian treks up Mt. Vesuvius.
Brian treks up Mt. Vesuvius.
Me at the top overlooking Naples.
Me at the top overlooking Naples.
Reward for a long and strenuous da…
Reward for a long and strenuous d…
Pompeii
photo by: Grpablo