Camping Spartacus, €15
We left Roma today and 3.5 hours later we moved into our new camping spot, Camping Spartacus in Pompeii, directly across from the site of the unfortunate ancient city. We had only one mishap with Susanna, today – when she tried to send us down a street marked no entry.
We ate a quick lunch in Homer and bounded off to the site. We began by going to the exit and they redirected us to the proper starting point, where we were able to purchase a 3 day €27 Campania ArteCard; this will allow us to travel to most of the sights we want to see in the area, entering the first two free and receiving a discount on the others.
We were amazed to find that November 5 is T-Shirt weather in Pompeii!
Ancient statue and ancient guy in beautiful ruined Pompeii
Once again, I am bowled over by the immensity of the remains of this once vibrant city. For those of you, like me, with no head for historical dates: Pompeii was wiped out by an explosion of nearby Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. at about noon. Everything was frozen in time by the 30 feet of volcanic ash that immediately covered the city.
Mt. Vesuvius and Temple of Jupiter
With the help of Rick Steves, we did a self-guided tour. It was fascinating, but frustrating. We had trouble orienting ourselves to the walking instructions and most of the more interesting or famous locations were closed for renovations. I guess that is one of the downsides of off-peak touring. We did manage to get a very good feel for the place and eventually found most of the sites we wanted to see.
One unexpected bonus was the food concession in the middle of the site. I am usually annoyed by the exorbitant prices charged by museums in the U.S. and expected the same treatment here; imagine my surprise when the helpful service person pointed out that, since we were already ordering a cappuccino and a fresh squeezed orange juice, we could add a brioche for the combo price of 4 Euros. What a deal! As we were leaving, I pointed out to Claire that they also served gelato; she immediately veered back toward the restaurant and we shared a caffé-pistachio combo for another €3. I think the best in food is yet to come!
Cappuccino, fresh squeezed orange juice and croissant for only €4
We found many examples of the middle and upper class existence around the ancient, ruined town. You got a good feel for things because the basic structure of most houses remains intact – only the roofs have collapsed, probably from the heat and weight of the hot ashes and then the ravages of time on whatever remained. But, this is probably the best preserved town from antiquity, because of the devastating volcanic eruption.
Columns with brick, mortar and fake marble stucco veneer. The Romans were great engineers and knew how to save a buck, too.
Ancient plumbing pipe. Even Versailles didn't have decent indoor plumbing.
Many of the locations are marked on the map provided upon entry: Bakeries, Fast Food Joints, Gym and Whorehouse...
Fast food joint - the ancient version
Giant ice cream cone advertising an ancient gelato stand
Pedestrian only street: The beaver teeth stop chariots from driving down the street.
Street with chariot grooves. Too bad the Romans didn't invent rubber tires; they wouldn't have to repave the streets every 1000 years. Notice the huge pedestrian stepping stones to allow pedestrians to cross the street when the sewage is washed down the block.
Ancient workout room with lockers
This is a complete change in tone for me. I was unable to speak upon first seeing these poor souls. For the curious, they captured these figures by using the hollow shells of volcanic ash as molds for plaster.