Our second day in Naples was reserved for what Naples is most famous for and the reason for us making the trip down from Rome… Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius, the volcano which destroyed the ancient city of Pompeii and is still an active volcano despite not erupting since 1944. What makes Pompeii so interesting was the eruption in 79 AD kept it hidden and buried until 1748 when it was rediscovered. Even to this day the entire site has not been fully excavated.
We got the train from Napoli Centrale Station for 11€ return and took it to Pompeii station. We had read before hand that to get up Mount Vesuvius we had to take a tour which you could get right at Pompeii station… Now I am not sure if we have been played but it was expensive!! 20€ each just to get the bus to the car park up the Volcano, which is about a 30/40 minute drive, I would love to tell of the beautiful view we had driving up the mountain however I spent the whole trip with my eyes closed and head in my hands, for those who know me well will know that I do not do well on zig-zag roads and I spent the whole trip trying not to throw up!
We arrived at the car park 3/4 of the way up then to get onto the volcano we had to pay again another 10€ each. We figured that this might be the only time we ever get the chance to see a live volcano let alone one as famous as Mount Vesuvius so paid our money and set off up the mountain.
The climb up was very steep with the path very soft sandy ash/stones which made it quite hard going especially as the weather decided to start blowing a gale! If you do this then proper shoes is a MUST we both had on our trainers however there were people going up in pumps and fashion boots!
The crater at the top is massive and at 4,203ft, quite high as well… You could see the steam spew out of holes around the crater but not lava to be seen… Which I am going to say is a good thing!! We walked right round the crater and decided this would be a great spot for lunch…. I think people thought we were mad as we tried to put the sandwiches in our mouth as the wind was trying its best to snatch it from our hands. The wind was so strong we couldn’t hear each other speak!
We started to make our way down grateful for our jackets and warm clothes as people passed us in shorts and tiny cardigans with an expression on their face that said “I have made a huge mistake!”
Once down and another 40 minute drive with my head in my hands we made our way to Pompeii city. Another 11€ entry each and 5.50€ for one audio set was starting to feel like an expensive trip!!
Pompeii itself is actually massive! I think we were both expecting something much much smaller but I was really taken aback at just how massive the city was! It is difficult to comprehend how it was all buried under so much ash (It was buried under 4-6 meters of ash from the volcano!)!
As we walked around the site it can be easy to get lost in it all and not know what you are looking at which is why I would recommend getting one audio set to share. Also with the audio set comes and list of the main sight to see. With around 70 sites you can get a bit ‘ruined-out’ so its best to pick the ones you want to see and head off for them which still took us around 2 hours! Like I said before the actual size of the city is crazy so you need to make sure you have comfortable shoes and if like me you have a bad back you take some painkillers with you just in case as the old cobblestone streets and stairs played havoc with my back! Luckily we had pain killers with us!!
One of the most famous features of Pompeii is the bodies of the people buried by the ash of the volcano. The bodies are not the actual bodies but plaster casts of the bodies. When they uncovered Pompeii they noticed the shapes of the bodies in the ash but inside only skeletons. It was explained that when the people, who were mostly poisoned, died the ash that covered them hardened creating a mold of their expressions, bodies and even clothes they were wearing. As years went on the bodies decomposed leaving only skeletons of the victims. When this was found out, plaster cast was poured into the hollow bodies and the remaining ash chipped away to leave a perfect mold of the victims. It is quite eerie especially the one that you can see the pain in his face and his teeth exposed.
One thing that we did notice when we were there was the penis carved into the cobble stones… I had to look this up when we were home as we were thinking maybe a tourist did it… however just so you know it was actually not there by accident and ‘pointed’ the way to the brothel!! Fact of the day right there!!!
It was a very interesting visit and one that has been on my bucket list for a long time! You can also visit the archaeological museum which holds even more items and bodies that have been dug up and discovered however we spent so long at the site and the volcano that we just ran out of time!!