When we arrived in Naples it was late at night, so we spent the night in the city before setting out for the coast. Naples, I’m sure, has its own charms but to be honest many of them escaped me as the first smell that greeted me at my first destination away from the airport (getting off the bus in Piazza Garibaldi) was urine. I’ve heard that Italians like the city–I forget exactly why–and this is great because it’s hard to grasp how tourists can “steal” their town. Naples, we had heard, is also notorious for muggings. Fortunately it didn’t apply to us during our visit.
The great thing about getting off the bus was that when I looked up, there in front of us was the hotel we had reserved. It was about 30 feet directly in front of us at the bus stop. The bad thing though, in addition to the smell, was that we had to dodge about 6 piles of trash to walk the 30 feet to get there. My heart would also go out to all the dogs roaming the streets I’d see the entire Italy leg of the trip.
At the hotel, our room didn’t have a window or balcony, perhaps because we were the last reservation to check in; also, the air conditioning didn’t work. Ugh. A good thing, though: we got a great recommendation for dinner. And so we each had our first dish of Linguini ai Fruitti di Mare of the entire trip. That is, linguini with “fruits of the sea” which is typically clams and mussels. We would have it 4 times in Italy, mind you, because what better way to combine pasta and seafood–the two essentials in Italian cuisine?? Mmm.
So. If you are ever in Naples for whatever reason (like flying in on your way to the Amalfi Coast), I highly recommend Cantina de Mille. It’s a great restaurant despite its surroundings in The Piazza Garibaldi. And for Linguini ai Fruitti di Mare you will pay about half the price of any other restaurant you will ever see it served (6.20 Euros). Also, for an entire bottle of house red wine, it was only 4 Euros. Great service and friendly, family-like atmosphere. I will especially remember the little Italian girl belonging to other patrons with adorable tiny little curls in her hair who kept coming around to the wine cooler located near us, opening it, and talking to the bottles of wine. She was so expressive and imaginative, and talked up a storm with both her hands at these bottles of wine like they were characters in a cartoon. For just a second, it made me nostalgic for childhood. 🙂
The next morning we set out and grabbed our rental car. After we made it out of Naples, we decided on Pompeii over the Mt. Vesuvius hike or Herculaneum. After all, Mt. Vesuvius destructed Pompeii as a city, no? What better way to discover the volcano’s power than by exploring a city damaged multiple times by it (before finally being completely destroyed)? Herculaneum was an excavation site as well, but knowing it was smaller we opted for the more famous of the two.
The city was breathtaking to explore. Especially when you find out that the city had been rebuilt a couple times, each time after Mt. Vesuvius had erupted. You would have thought that people might have anticipated the final, catastrophic eruption of 79 A.D. that essentially enveloped the entire city … which some archaeologists have concluded may have been populated by 35,000 people in its prime. Of course, since the city dates back to 600-800 B.C. originally, you figure that Pompeii survived as a city at least 3-4 times longer than The States exists now as a country. You also didn’t see Angelenos picking up and leaving after The Northridge Earthquake. Well, maybe you did, but certainly not en masse.
Without further ado, enjoy the slideshow of the ruins of Pompeii. I did my best to filter the most important pictures I caught for the preview below. If, by any chance, you want to see all 157 photos in my huge Flickr set please feel free. 😉
I was in awe of the degree of civilization the city had reached by then. Then again, I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting around 0 A.D.–not exactly the time of dinosaurs or the first engineering of the wheel. I guess, then, it’s just how intact the ruins were from the preservation by the volcanic catastrophy. That we could still see the mosaics, the frescoes, and other evidence of their entire culture 2000 years later. It was as if the city had been saved by reconstruction and modernization of all the cultures to come, and meant to be preserved for our education.