As a child, I first read the stories of Pompeii and Ercalano in my Encyclopedias. The story of mighty Vesuvius erupting in 79 AD and destroying the two town and burying them for the archaeologists of today. Having read this and knowing that the volcano is active and has erupted in the last 100 years, makes me ask the question about “how can people live their lives there, knowing that the volcano will erupt again?”
I saw a documentary a couple years ago that detailed the lives of people who lived in the shadow of Cotopaxi in Ecuador. The people know that the volcano will erupt and their lives will change but it is their home and it is what they know. A clear case of “It is what it is”, people go on with their lives, having their children knowing that their own Borgia Dagger hangs over their heads. Amazing, when one thinks about it.
Today, I was so excited about going Pompeii and it didn’t disappoint! The first thing I noticed was that Pompeii was much bigger than I thought it would be. One has a certain image of what a place like would seem like, and while my image was consistent with my readings and exposure, the overall scale of the place was definitely different.
Going into the area once we got the train from Napoli via the Circumvesuviano Train was a breeze. A tip for anyone reading this blog and going to the ruins.
Travel note on getting to Pompeii and Ercalano Scavi:
When you get to Napoli Centrale, there are two ways to get to the ruins
- Trenitalia : You can take the train to Pompeii, the town and then trek 6 kilometers from the town to the ruins, which will be quite a long day for some.
- Circumvesuviano : Circumvesuviano train from Naples to Pompeii is a commuter train type thing. When we got on it (wrong time of day?) we were cheek to cheek with hundreds of Napoli high school kids….and yes, they were just as cheeky as high school kids everywhere!. Once you get off at the Pompeii train station you walk about…….maybe 200 yards down the road and you get to the front step of the ruins. Easy!
It costs about 3 euros for a whole day pass, which is a very good value.
Once you get into the ruins, it amazing to see how well kept and preserved the ruins are and there are some stunning views and backdrops with Vesuvius in the background. Below is a picture of the Forum. At the time of destruction, the Forum was isolated from the urban area by a large arcade that encircled it except to the north, which was occupied by the Capitoline and two other honorary arches. The Forum is rectangular in shape, 32 meters by 142 meters, paved in travertine, and was surrounded by a covered arcade on three sides.
Walking around some places, you get an eerie sense of what it was like, however most of the imprints and encasings in lava have long since been taken to the Napoli Museum.
Originally, Pompeii received its water supply from the River Sarno and from wells, but an aqueduct was built when the needs of the city increased. Large lead pipes ran under the pavements carrying running water to the homes of the richest residents, to the public baths, and to the public fountains where the poorer inhabitants obtained their water. The Forum Baths, excavated in 1823, are located at the intersection of Via del Foro and Via di Nola. The baths were had a communal central heating plant and were divided into two sections, for males and for females.
Once we were done with all eight regions of the Pompeii site, it was on to Ercalano. However after a long heated day to the ruins, it was time for lunch and some refreshments. Well to say that the Arancitas around Pompeii are amazing, is an understatement of magnificent proportions! It is Orange Crack seriously! I had one large orange slushie, made out of fresh orange and mandarin juice and it is the stuff of gods! Then I had another one and I could easily had a third, but for fear of triggered a diabetic coma, I stopped, but I craved it all day and all the way after that! damn that Orange Crack.
Ercalano is a much smaller site but better preserved. Of course ruins are ruins!
After the ruins, was lunch and then on to Salerno, since we missed the climb up Vesuvius! 🙁