While Leiha was eating her way through Naples, I did a bit of sight-seeing starting at the Herculaneum. Honestly, I did not do the birthplace of the Neapolitan pizza justice. Naples turned out to be more of a staging ground for my day trips. The few locals I spoke with were quite friendly and helpful, but overall, I spent very little time in the city itself. It was either deserted or overcrowded with tourists, and I couldn’t quite figure out the ebb and flow of downtown. Guess I should have paid better attention to the cruise ship schedules. My bad! Oh, and don’t get me started on the taxi drivers. If you can walk, walk.
The waterfront was lovely at night. Seeing Mount Vesuvius looming in the distance was awe inspiring. It definitely makes you more aware of your mortality. You best carpe diem, Bitches. Go ahead and eat that extra gelato! If the world ends tomorrow, you don’t want to regret not having that last dessert. If the world doesn’t end tomorrow, get your butt to the gym!
My first day trip was to the Herculaneum, a fishing town destroyed by Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. It was completely covered in 16 meters of pyroclastic flow which fossilized the city. I wish I’d purchased a map, a guidebook, or rented an audio guide. I basically had to stalk other tour groups to figure out what I was looking at. That was kind of challenging since I don’t speak French, German, Italian, or Japanese. Every once in a while, an English speaking guide would come by. Eureka! Turns out I was looking at bath houses, villas, temples, shops, private residences, bars and the list goes on and on. I could not get over how close we were to Mount Vesuvius. Friggin’ cool!
Even though it was incredibly hot at the Herculaneum, the heat was tolerable because it wasn’t too crowded when I went. I didn’t have to fight other people for a sliver of shade. Make sure to use the restroom before you go in. It’s also a good idea to bring some water. I think I lost between 2 to 5 pounds of water weight that day from sweating alone. Obviously you want to wear comfortable shoes because the ground is very uneven and rocky. You’re walking on ruins after all. I’d also suggest wearing a hat and lots of sunscreen because the Mediterranean sun can be a bear. Save the tanning for the beach.
There were quite a few trees at the ruins. I’m not sure what kind of fruit tree this was, but I wasn’t about to try a bite because I didn’t want to start a kerfuffle on my second day in Italy.
This is the nymphaeum, a sanctuary consecrated to the nymphs, at the House of Skeleton. The house got its name because archaeologists found a skeleton in it. Pretty straight forward, ya’ think? No need to tax the imagination or anything like that. I was hoping for more of a vampire or weird sex story behind the name. Nope, just a skeleton in a house.
This lovely establishment was a corner wine bar. Oh yeah! Time for some pub lunch and a glass of red. Too bad they were closed when I was there. Their hours were very limited. Apparently there was a huge drop in clientele after the “incident”.
Hard to believe this wall painting of Hercules and Achelous in the Hall of the Augustales wasn’t completely destroyed. Go, Hercules! Go, Hercules! It was gorgeous.
Last but not least, my most favorite room – a public bath house! Bathing was a big deal back in the day, and everybody did it. In fact, many citizens went to baths daily to socialize and conduct business. Except for the “public” part, I’m all in!
I’ll be talking about Pompeii and the never ending road trip in my next blog, so stay tuned!