We woke up to gorgeous sun streaming through our balcony doors and joined fellow guests on the terrace for breakfast. “Boungiorno” I said to one of the waiters… “Good morning Miss” he replied in a British accent. After quick double take, I then heard him talking to another waiter in Italian but with a distinctly English (British) pronunciation of the words. I decided I would save my best Italian for the other waiter in future.
We had decided to visit Pompeii this day, and many guide books recommend to do it in the afternoon as it is very hot and there is so much to explore. We took the car to Ravello for the morning. A gorgeous town above Amalfi with stunning views of the coast line. We explored the winding cobbled streets and admired the various ceramic and art shops. We noticed it was the Ravello Festival – where they hold concerts each night in the Villa Rufolo gardens with the splendid backdrop of the Amalfi coast behind the performers. We bought tickets for the following night to see the Francesco Cafiso Quintet.
After a light lunch in Ravello, we decided to head to Pompeii. Again, putting our faith in GPS to navigate us there. Again, the GPS steered us in its own direction, against the advice of all the road signs… through tiny towns (closed for siesta of course), down one way roads (the wrong way!) and into dead ends. Somehow, through a combination of panic, good luck and U-turns, we found Pompeii.
Some shady characters outside a restaurant offered us to park for 10 Euros in their car park, “hmm, seems legit” I said – and we parked the car and headed to the entry for Pompeii.
My advice to future visitors is: wear good shoes, a hat, bring sunscreen and water. Pompeii is an expansive site with so much to see. We had a map so we marked out a trail of where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see. You would need a full day to see most of it and even then, probably more. We explored the ruins of the city and saw the magnificent, yet foreboding Mt Vesuvius from the main forum of Pompeii.
We discovered the seedy underbelly in Via Lupanare, where the brothels were. There are still mosaics and paintings depicting the nature of the services and graffiti either complaining or complementing the services received.
We saw the very moving plaster casts of bodies huddled – shielding themselves from the falling ash. None more stirring than the Garden of the Fugitives – a vineyard area where they found thirteen bodies – two families huddled together. There were small children, next to their parents. You can tell from the casts (which are of real bodies that were found) that these would have been terrifying moments.
Pompeii is a very special city. In a way, it lives forever as everything is captured as it was before Vesuvius erupted. We can see a glimpse of the living city like no other because of how it has been preserved, a bittersweet irony out of a tragedy.
We explored Pompeii for around four hours before deciding to head back to Amalfi. On returning to the car, the shady characters were trying to convince us to eat in their restaurant, offering us discount on the parking if we had dinner or drinks. So that was the catch. We politely refused their persuasive requests and jumped in the car to head home. This time, we thought we would use a combination of road signs as our main point of navigation rather than the GPS.
We thought, since we had the car, we might as well make use of it so headed past Amalfi to a town called Praiano to watch the sunset. We pulled up at a lovely hotel called Tramonti and went out to their terrace to enjoy a drink as we watched the sunset. We decided to stay on for dinner at their restaurant. I enjoyed a delicious scaloppine al limone while Eldad had fresh pasta.
We meandered our way back to Amalfi to enjoy some gelato for dessert and planning our trip to Capri the next day…