Herculaneum and Pompei
We had an early start this morning - and dressed for rain, expecting it to be cloudy in the morning and rain all afternoon. Umbrellas were packed and off we went to catch the Circumvesuviana out to Ercolano to see the Herculaneum ruins, where there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Much like Pompei, Herculaneum was hit by the 62 AD earthquake before the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. Much smaller than Pompei, it housed about 4000 people so the ruins were easy to navigate and take them all in. Some areas were much more damaged than others - maybe they’ve just been restored more or maybe they were hit harder by the earthquake? We spent our morning wandering in and out of houses and buildings, seeing detailed mosaic floors and frescos. One of the most jarring experiences was seeing a series of small, gated arched rooms in a row. Each was filled with skeletons. EDP thought we had found crypts but with the location near the water, I thought they were likely warehouses. Turns out, I was right - the assumption is that sailors rushed into the warehouses when they realized something was wrong and got trapped.
Once we were done at Herculaneum, we grabbed a couple of sandwiches and extra water and headed off for Pompei. It was still sunny as could be - and I was really starting to regret taking the sunscreen out of my purse to make room for an umbrella. Pompei was significantly busier than Herculaneum and it took us some time before we got tickets, audio guides and had a bathroom break. Then it was into the city to start exploring. Turns out, it’s massive. It’s estimated there were 20,000 people living around Pompei when Vesuvius erupted but they know the population was down from the earthquake a few years earlier because people didn’t want to rebuild. We took in as much as we could in the hours we had - including the nacropolis, the amphitheatre, the Temple of Jupiter, foro, and so much more. Many areas are blocked off now and you can only peer in. EDP later learned that only about 1/3 of what was open to visitors in the 1960s is open today. We wove up and down the streets until we were too hot and too tired to keep going. The sun stayed shining, despite the promise of downpours in the afternoon, which frankly, we were hoping for so the people would leave but that never happened. It did finally start to cool off and cloud over as we were leaving and the rain started just as our train back to Naples was pulling into the station. The sunburn on my neck really proves I should have kept the sunscreen in my purse.
Once back in Naples, it was time for a bit of a rest to let our feet recover from our long day of walking. Then it was on to one last pizza dinner in Naples. EDP found Starita, a third Michelen-recommended pizzeria (what’s a pizzeria gotta do to get a star?!) so we went off for opening to avoid the crowds and got a table right away. Unlike our other two pizza experiences. Starita had massive menu with tonnes of different types of pizzas. After some amazing arancini, two more delicious pizzas appeared in front of us. Once again, I couldn’t eat all of mine but it was excellent. My favourite was still the Gino Sorbillo marinara pizza but this was worth the walk, especially since there was gelato on the way back.
We’re at the end of our time in Naples now. Tomorrow, we’re off to Sorrento where we’re basing ourselves for our Amalfi coast explorations. I suspect we’ll no longer have a pizza-based diet but I guess you never know!