We arrived in Naples a little earlier than scheduled. We were docked and cleared to debark around 7:30 AM. Today we had scheduled an excursion through Cruising Excursions, headquartered in London. It was described as a small group tour, between 6 and 20 persons with an English speeding guide. Our tour was to start at 8:30 and we were to meet our driver at 8:15 outside the cruise terminal. We decided to exit the ship early, just before 8:00. To our surprise, when we left the terminal, our guide was waiting for us with a sign. After quick introductions, he called the driver to bring our transportation by. As a new Mercedes SUV pulled up, our guide Fernando explained that it was just the four of us, we had a private tour! We departed the terminal at 8:10. Our information from the ship said to expect a 45 minute drive to Pompeii, our first stop. We arrived at exactly 8:30, opening time and we were the first persons through the back gate. For the majority of our two hours in Pompeii we had it mostly to ourselves. Fernando proved to be an excellent and knowledgeable guide.
Dawn at Naples Port.
Mt. Vesuvius, the volcano which buried the city of Pompeii as well as destroying all forms of life from Herculaneum to Stabiae in 79 AD. This was the best photo I was able to obtain as it was hazy all day. Vesuvius is located about 15 KM from Pompeii.
Fresh lemons at the small market when we arrived at Pompeii. The lemons grown here are HUGE!
First of all, we only had two hours to spend at Pompeii. Fernando made sure we saw a lot, but there is absolutely no way to see the ancient city fully in less than 2 or 3 days. I had absolutely no idea of its size. In fact I still didn’t realize how big it was until I purchased a book and actually looked at a map and an aerial photo. We actually walked over perhaps 15 % of the entire city. I am providing a lot of photos, but unfortunately I haven’t had time to match all the photos with the actual descriptions in my book. For now, just enjoy the photos…
Our first stops were the Forum Baths. These were the smallest public baths which were primarily for visitors to the city. Although they were small they were the most ornate. There were cold, warm, and hot baths with changing rooms. There were separate baths for both men and women. All rooms were heated by ductwork in the floors and the walls. Street leading to the public baths of the Forum.
Looking back you can see the level which the ash from the volcano covered the city.
Some of the many beautiful floor mosaics in the baths.
A wall fresco in the baths. Attached to the baths was a brothel which was apparently located upstairs. There is an entire sequence of fresco in the waiting area of the brothel. I took photos of these, but since this blog will probably be viewed by some who might be offended (and some who are simply too young to see these images), I will not post these photos. I’ll just say they are very graphic!
A beautiful mosaic which is almost complete.
This is something which fascinated me. During heavy rains, the streets would flood. Stepping stones were placed along the streets to allow the crossing without getting your feet wet.
The streets were preserved in wonderful shape. You can see that the time was taken to produce pattern even in the streets.
Notice the white stones. These are now called cat’s eyes. Their purpose was to help pedestrians to see the street in low light.
Marble was scarce and difficult to obtain. In its place, brick columns were made and then plastered over to look like marble. This is a good photo comparing the two.
The four travelers standing in the forum, near the Temple of Jupiter.
I found this very small room near the entrance to the market place. When I enquired as to its purpose, since it was an unusual looking room, our guide told me it was used to collect urine. Urine was valuable for its ammonia content and was used for washing clothes.
This is one of the many bodies found buried in the volcanic ash. When discovered, the ash had hardened and the body had decayed leaving only the skeleton. Archeologists filled the cavity with plaster to create the exact position and shape of the body as it was when the person perished.
This is a good example of the stepping stones and you can see the chariot tracks left in the stone road.
Found at the front door of one of the many private homes in Pompeii. Our guide said it basically translates as “Welcome”. A permanent welcome mat in stone!
This photo was taken in the House of the Faun, the largest home in Pompeii. It occupies a little over 45,000 square feet. It is generally supposed that the house was built for Publius Sulla, nephew of the conqueror of the Samnite city, who had the task of organizing and reconciling the old and new interest of the Roman Republic at Pompeii. In other words he was a politician.
The house is huge and has a number of beautiful mosaics. The most famous which depicted the battle of Alexander the Great and Darius, King of the Persians is now housed in the National Museum of Naples.
These stalls were for beverage sellers. Note the counter and the decorated marble.
The recesses were to hold jugs of wine or other beverages.
“Cave Canum” mosaic in the entrance to Casa Del Poeta Tragico. It was under renovation and I had to take the photo through a small opening with wire screen. The inscription translates to “Beware of Dog”. Somethings haven’t changed much in the past 2000 years…
An oven at a bakery and grain mill.
One of several mills used to grind grain for bread.
In one storage area there were thousands of artifacts which have been removed from the site and are now being stored. They are locked behind bars, but fortunately you can take photos through the enclosure.
This famous plaster cast has traveled the world over and been on exhibit in many museums.
It catches a moment in time of the fatal eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.
After leaving Pompeii, we traveled along the beautiful Amalfi Coast.
After our sightseeing drive along the coast we made our way to the beautiful town of Sorrento where we had two hours for lunch and exploring the town.
We had a very enjoyable “real” pizza as our guide said. If it wasn’t from the Naples area it wasn’t a real pizza.
I could have spent the entire day in this shop. It is operated by the fifth generation of its founder. They specialize in wood inlay.
This is one of thousands of beautiful pieces they had. This is a game table which has multiple layers under the beautiful inlay top. The legs and side are also inlayed. The cost was 7,000 Euros.
Me with Marco Jannuzzi, a fifth generation owner. I had to get a couple of small pieces of the marvelous work.
On our way back, we took the shortcut through the mountain. This tunnel was over 5 kilometers in length.
Back in Naples we passed this apartment building. It looks like it was wash day…
The day was great. My only regret is we only had a few hours in Pompeii. I wish we had a few days! My next post will be for our visit to Civitavecchia, the port city for Rome.