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26th Aug: mystery

August 26, 2008

12 Km driven, driver stress non-existent

120 photographs taken

Food good to excellent

Picture: Neptune and Amphitrite, Mosaic House 22

We were now getting things sorted, no more long drives instead a quick trip to Sorrento to park and then the Circumvesuviana to Ercolano, a short walk down the hill and were at the entrance. I think the guidebooks are right, start with Pompeii then follow it with a shorter day at Herculaneum. Pompeii is awesome, but Herculaneum has greater intimacy. There is also this huge sense of mystery with less than 10% of the site excavated. Why someone does not buy up the whole area and start a major excavation before Vesuvius lets rip again I don’t know.

It was a good day to go as well, few other visitors and a chance to spend time in all the houses without a mass of tourists. (Funny how you don’t like tourists when you are one). The air was clearer as well with clouds later in the afternoon that looked like they were from Vesuvius. I if you looked up from one of the villas it seemed threatening and I was not the only one to climb to higher ground just to check things out!

The villa of Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus,is magnificent, the perfect seaside retreat for the father-in-law of Julius Caesar. It holds the only roman library of any size to survive, and the possibility that technology will allow the carbonised scrolls to be read with the risk of damage is truly exciting. If you just think of the missing volumes of greek philosophy or key historical references you will see what I mean. Pompeii is all what was, Herculaneum seems to more about what could be.

Returning by the same train, a short walk to La Basilica where ordering scampi produces a whole langoustine, much to the shock of those used to the scampi in a basket of a British pub. Good place to eat this but a bit over priced against the competition over the prevous two nights.

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