5.16.09 The Buried City of Pompei

Pompeii Travel Blog

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Charles' pizza research- thumbs up at Spartacus Campground near Napoli (Pompei)

5.16.09 The Buried City of Pompei (they do not spell it with 2 i's)


At 10:29 am, Charles and Lia finished reading Book 7 of the Harry Potter series.  Wow.  I cannot believe it is over.


Great day!  We left Rome, drove through Napoli, and are based just south in Pompei.  The ruins to the ancient city are just across the street from our Spartacus Campground.  We explored Pompei, a UNESCO site, this afternoon and are getting to bed early tonight.


This morning, we were so sad to leave Roma Camping - that place is just perfect!  Our gelato guy, Gustavo gave us a hug goodbye- that means we bought a lot of gelato in our 4 days! Ha!


Yesterday, we also enjoyed a new Italian friend, who stopped by our campsite near the pool to chat with the kids.

Buried city of Pompei
  He was a hoot!  He was at Roma Camping ten years ago and said that it has vastly improved- that it is 5-star now.  I agree.  I looked back at the Church’s book and think that the whole place must have been redone since then- the streets are now paved with cobblestone bricks, there is hot/cold water for both dishwashing and laundry sinks, the bathrooms are luxurious- I could live there.  It ranks up with Paa Mul in Mexico to me.


Anyway, our friend (whose name I sadly did not get), is traveling right now in southern Italy without his wife, who is visiting with their grandkids.  He explains, “We love, love, LOVE our grandkids and want to be with them ALL the time, but we also love to travel, so my wife says, ‘You go’ and so I find places where we go back together.”  I completely understood. 


I had just finished telling Jazy that I felt like I needed to reach out more to meet other campers- that I had somewhat isolated myself.

Wonderful Roma Camping Staff- Gustovo serves up gelatos at the Sunset Hill bar and grill
  So it was particularly nice that he’d dropped by to chat with the kids who were reading outside.  He was enthusiastic, interesting, and a perfect example of a vivacious Italian, running down the street to show us a picture on his camera of a baby that we couldn’t quite figure out who it was- he was also headed to the theatre that night.  He said, “I was only going to spend 3 days here and now I am on Day 7, but I just called my wife and she said to stay, she is doing well.”  They’ve been married 38 years.  I guess I found him a kindred spirit, and I *really* admire someone who can have so much fun traveling alone.  I would think that difficult.  But his being extraverted and full of wonder about life must surely help him make many friends along his journey.


He’d traveled to the U.S. and enjoyed it, but he couldn’t quite fathom why we do things like refrigerate 6-packs and larger of beer when we really were just going to drink one and take the rest home to our own fridge.  Why use all that electricity to run huge freezers to cool ALL that beer?  And did the large Monoco RV in Las Vegas that he saw really need to have a huge refrigerator in the thing?  “What for?” he asked.

Wonderful Roma Camping Staff- a kind reception
  I had to agree that he had good points.


Anyway, he gave me good info on Napoli, approved my plan for a campground in Pompei, and emphasized the safety tips I’d read about in books.  Again, more warnings for places south of wherever we are.


I used the wifi to call Ned on Charles’ iTouch using a Skype program that Ned put on there and the special Apple microphone-earbuds that Ned brought from the States.  It worked really well and I think is just 2.5 cents a minute.


Last night the campground hosted a “Bon Jovi” concert at the pool!  The band was really, really good and we had a terrific time staying up late.  Impressive that they put on so many fun activities at the campground/hostel!  We enjoyed meeting two students from Pennsylvania who were on a Study Abroad program ��" they’d just finished up a semester in Lithuania.

Huh? Did you learn Italian, Jazy?


So today we drove the ring road around Rome, which wasn’t too crazy on Saturday morning.  We took the highway for several hours to Napoli, which was highly stressful.  The road was under construction, lanes were narrow and hilly/curvy (like a roller coaster), and fellow drivers were scary with their antics.  We count our blessings that Sugar made it through unscathed.  I have to admit that I was worried that the other drivers would just move over into our lane and whack her.  <shiver!> 


The Church’s GPS coordinates to Camping Spartacus saved us since the exit was reworked.  There is no toll booth, the road goes *under* the RR tracks, and the campground is right across from the ruins with signs everywhere, stalls of oranges and enormous lemons, tourist trinkets, and general traffic (foot and car) everywhere- it reminded us of a typical town in Mexico. 


We breathed a sigh of relief when the nice Rosario at the reception booth checked us in, gave us excellent printed info on the train schedule to and from Napoli and Sorrento (where you can get a ferry to Capri and a bus to the Amalfi Coast), and we got one of the few spots left in this nice campground on this Saturday night.  This street, however, has Zeus Camping, and about 2 other campgrounds in addition to Spartacus, so I’m sure we could find a place if we’d had to.


But we have a little market here (just a few drinks and some bread), showers, wi-fi for 2.5E per hour, and a pizzeria which Charles tested this evening.  It was just 4E and Charles watched as the pizza dough was spread and pizza prepared, then fired for about 2 minutes in a hot, arched open oven, and brought the delicious pizza back to the RV.  YUM!


You know that Italy has the best pizza in the world, right?  Well, Napoli has the best pizza in Italy!  And everyone who has read “Eat. Pray, Love” knows that Pizzaria Michele has the best pizza in Napoli.  So we are going there tomorrow.  In fact, that is one of the main reasons we are here in Napoli- it is on our 100 Wishes List.


We also are hitting the UNESCO sites that we can- you would not believe how many there are in Europe- good gracious- they are in every direction from Paris!  So we cannot hit them all, but we pick the most pertinent ones that we can. 


Pompei was built beginning in 200 B.C.  In 79 AD, on a summer afternoon, Mt. Vesuvius exploded.  While 20,000 people lived there, they think all but about 2,000 escaped in advance.  But those 2,000 got buried in ash and lava 20’ deep.  In the 16th century. Theu found the buried city, but didn’t start excavating it until the 18th century. 


It is huge!  My gosh, I don’t know how they excavated all that!  It must be several miles in diameter and we walked all the way straight through and then around one side.  There are the coliseum, gardens, houses, and Roman baths with rows of marble sinks in marble vanities.  There was even an indoor swimming pool with some artwork that will not be coming home on any postcards from here.  Ahem!


The cobblestones on the streets were huge and carefully laid like mosaics, with big even boulders for curbing.  The floors in some of the rooms, like baths had tiny mosaic patters and you could walk on some of it, although you could see places where it was coming apart from the disturbance.  We were surprised they let people walk on it.  There were lovely paintings on some of the walls, most of it very protected with rooflines and plexiglass covers.  Other that some large mobs of several groups, we had the place essentially to ourselves.


While at the ruins, we met 3 different couples:  from Dallas, from San Antonio, and one from Michigan/Barcelona, all traveling independently.  What are the chances of meeting Texans in Pompei?! 


We tried in vain to help one couple find the Necropolis, where excavators made plaster sculptures of the uncovered bodies. 


There are three entrances to the ruins and we, of course, took forever to find our way out.  We saw just 2 security guards today inside the ruins- I wonder how they find wandering, lost folks after closing…


Fortunately, the overcast day suppressed the heat, with some evening sun.  Pollen in the air is severe -you can see it!  Everyone is coughing and sneezing, but we’re still enjoying our precious time in glorious Italy!



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Charles pizza research- thumbs up…
Charles' pizza research- thumbs u…
Buried city of Pompei
Buried city of Pompei
Wonderful Roma Camping Staff- Gust…
Wonderful Roma Camping Staff- Gus…
Wonderful Roma Camping Staff- a ki…
Wonderful Roma Camping Staff- a k…
Huh?  Did you learn Italian, Jazy?
Huh? Did you learn Italian, Jazy?
photo by: Grpablo