25th Aug: Ash

August 25, 2008

P1010238.JPG66 Km driven

Driver stress low

169 photographs taken

Food good

Picture: Stepping stones in the streets of Pompeii.

I had expected to be impressed by Pompey, but it exceeded even my high expectations. Not just the sheer size of the site, but the intimate (no I don’t mean that) details of the place. The stepping stones across each street to preserve togas from the mud, engineered to the distance between wheels of a hand cart (the chariot wheels and railway tracks is I think an urban myth by the way) being one example. The plaster casts of the space left in the ash by the dead bodies remains poignant to this day, although the death throws of a dog were, for me the most vivid.

Getting there was unexciting, which was a relief. We had found that a shop at the entrance to the village sold croissant, the drive to Pompeii was uneventful, although a wrong turning off the autostrada meant a difficult drive through the streets of modern Pompeii. I ignored the various parking touts and ended up in secure parking next to the main entrance. Worth noting that a €30 meal (easy with a family) in the adjacent Pizzeria means the parking is free. School parties I am told come in via the Amphitheater which makes for a route with less backtracking, but I think I prefer coming in by the main entrance. You get a sense of the walled city, built for defense, and the long entrance brings you through a darkened tunnel to the centre. We spent the whole day wandering around to the point where the battery on the camera was starting to fail. The popular sites (the Brothel) involved a queue, but elsewhere it was easy to see things, to take pictures without restriction and breath in the sense of the place. The mountain was visible throughout acting as a powerful reminder of the cataclysmic past.

Exhausted we set of back for Sorrento to find another, slightly cheaper but still excellent restaurant (L’Abate just down from Piazza Tasso on the Via Luigi De Maio). More local wine then back to the flat where it took ten minutes to wash the dust of Pompeii from sandaled feet.

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