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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

T & R : Naples and Pompeii (13th out of 2 weeks in Italy)

August 24th 79 AD changed the lives of the Pompeians forever. Despite what we now recognize as early-warning signs for an impending eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the 20,000 people who lived in Pompeii had long ago stopped thinking of the mountain as a volcano and so continued about their daily business.

To get to Pompeii from Rome I suggest getting those day trips from Viator.com which covers Naples (although the bulk of the trip will be focusing in Pompeii)

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If you decide to extend your trip for a few more days then you can make Naples one of your pit stop and continue to explore the Amalfi Coast from here (Cinque Terre is more beautiful in my opinion) or take a ship to their southern islands. For me, coming from the North of Italy ie Venizia and ending in the South ie Naples some sort of complete my 2 weeks in journey in Italy.

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Naples is very notorious for their triads however since I did follow a tour on this day trip from Rome, I did not feel unsafe while I was in this part of Italy. However, I must say, this city can be rather dirty.

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For lunch, the bus stopped in the town of modern Pompeii.

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After a quick stop, we proceed to historical Pompeii. Today, Pompeii is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy, and with good reason. Although much of the city was destroyed by the nearby volcano, it was also largely preserved by being buried under more than 60 feet of ash and pumice, sealing history away until it was discovered in the mid-1700s.

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The city of Pompeii dates back to the 8th century B.C.E. when it was initially founded, and the archaeological site (which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site) reveals its many treasures to visitors to this day. The many preserved frescoes are of particular interest, although the massive influx of tourists every year has caused some level of deterioration at the site. The organization which runs Pompeii now actively encourages people to visit the other nearby sites which were also preserved by the same volcanic blast – among them Herculaneum and Stabiae – in order to lessen the pressure on Pompeii itself.

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My tour guide demonstrating the acoustic sound of one of the still in good condition theatre.

 

 

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(above) The Pompeiians already had sliding doors back then!!!

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Some people consider Herculaneum to be a better site to visit, primarily because it’s less bombarded with tourists, it’s smaller and can therefore be taken in more completely in a few hours, and it’s more open than Pompeii. Much of Pompeii, although excavated, remains closed to visitors, while most of Herculaneum’s excavated buildings and structures are visible to tourists.

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(above) A symbol representing that you are entering the Pompeiian version of red light district.

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Do note that although the big attraction here is Pompeii, there is a town not far from the archaeological site called Pompei, spelled with one “i,” which is a living, breathing Italian town. If you were wondering why some signs have the one-i spelling, now you know the answer.

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In Pompeii it’s best to enter through the main Porta Marina entrance. Notice the two openings in the gate – the larger one was for chariots, whereas pedestrians used the smaller opening.

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Do not miss the forum (foro); the commercial, religious, and political center stands at the intersection of the city’s two main streets. Behind the grassy square Vesuvius looms menacingly.

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In a courtyard alongside the forum stand glass-encased casts of volcano victims. Archaeologists in the late 1800s made these by pouring liquid plaster into hollow cavities they detected underfoot.

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On the street stepping stones with grooves cut through them for carts to pass through kept Pompeians’ feet from getting wet and soiled during heavy rainfalls.

Last but not least, spend some alone time by sitting at a corner (easy to find a quiet corner as this place is huge!) to soak in the sombreness that is Pompeii. Despite of the calamity had occurred thousands of years ago, the effects can still be chilling to this day.

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With Mt Vesuvius looming in the background, its time to hop on your bus for a ride back all the way to Rome where if you haven’t will be a good time to pack as you leave this beautiful country the very next day.







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