June 2, 2006
Okay back on the Italy recap thing!
Wednesday of our trip was our first day outside the city. We hopped on a charter bus and took a 3 1/2 hour trip south to Pompeii. This trip was pretty much the selling point for us on the whole vacation- having seen all this stuff on the History Channel for years, getting to see it all in person was VERY exciting. ‘Cause we’re geeks.
The drive down was great. The bus was comfy and our adorable British-accented guide Nicole filled us in on all sorts of tidbits about the different areas of Italy. And the scenery through the window? Gorgeous.
Pompeii is right near Naples, so we stopped for lunch just outside of Naples and had our first ‘real’ meal in Italy. ‘Real’ meaning all 6 courses: appetizer (bruschetta!), first course- pasta (gnocchi!), second course- meat (chicken that was very very yummy, small salad), wine (not a huge fan but I tried it at least), coffee (skipped that), and dessert (of course I had that!) It was included in our tour fee which was great too. :)
On to the ruins! What is it about looking at ancient broken stone walls that is so fascinating? Is it imagining what life was like in the year 79AD? Picturing people and horses and chariots going down the streets that we were walking on RIGHT NOW? Was it seeing the original marble counters in what was once a restaurant/bar where people would meet after a hard days’ work to unwind with their friends? But instead of it being a modern thing… they were reallyreallyreally old.
One of the most interesting and unsettling parts of the day was seeing the plaster molds of the human remains left behind after the eruption. It’s first of all amazing to me that anything survived the catastrophe- it was the ‘lucky’ (I use that term loosely, heh) fact that the eruption wasn’t just a bunch of hot lava that burned everything in it’s path. It was hot, hot, hot ash and pumice stone that basically buried everything and suffocated the victims. So over time, there were holes left in the ruins in the shape of the human bodies that were buried. And when they began excavating, they filled some of these holes with plaster to get a better idea of what was going on in the final moments. This one was particularly freaky- this person was trying to cover their mouth to block out the hot ash (which according to a documentary we watched (yeswewatchedadocumentaryshutup) turned to cement in the victims’ lungs after just 3 breaths)
Yeah. Kind of eerie, isn’t it? I almost felt like we were intruding on someone’s grave (because really, we were) It was a weird mix of fascination and the eebie-jeebies.
After the tour of the ruins, we had some time to wander around and take pictures of Mt Vesuvius. Of course we couldn’t be mature about it:
There we are, saving the world from another disaster!
So that was Pompeii. A very interesting trip and I’m so glad we had the chance to go while we were in Italy. Plus I got to have some gelato (ice cream) after the tour while we waited for the rest of the group, so that made it even better. I’m easy to please, really.