Here's a microscopic map of the train lines from Napoli above the Biglietteria (Ticket counter). I don't think the counter lady understood what we were saying. Anyway, we decided to take one of the lines that was headed to Poggiomarino, because it went in the general direction of where we were trying to get to.
We were slightly disturbed by the fact that there were only a few services on the listing, and at the time we could not determine if the paucity of trains was related to this STRIKE NOTICE sign. But it appears the trains just don't come very often.
So we got on board a delightful train ride that took us past Vesuviana, the progenitor of Pompei's destruction...
G decided that we should alight at the station POMPEI despite a footnote on some tourist guide he had, saying we should PROBABLY stop at POMPEI SCAVI because stopping at POMPEI would involve a significant walk to the excavation site. This is an accurate assessment of the situation. You should probably stop at Pompei Scavi if you want to go to the archaeological sites immediately. However, if you would like to get ever so slightly disturbingly lost for an hour or so inbetween, you may wish to alight at POMPEI (spelt with one i)
There are a few things to be noted when trying to walk from Pompei Station to the Pompei excavation site. One is that none of the public maps make sense, so its best to download a map on your phone before you get there (there is no free wifi anywhere either). Secondly, there are NO PUBLIC TOILETS. Whatever you do, don't drink all the water in your bottle whilst on a long walk looking for Pompei. THERE WILL BE NO TOILETS TO BE FOUND ANYWHERE. (The constant search for the nonexistent bathroom appeared to be a running theme in our journeys through Italy...)
A Map of the area. Not entirely helpful in explaining where we were.
Paninoteca. In Italy it seems it is acceptable to append -teca or -teria to the end of anything to make it a shop dealing with such a product. Confiteria. Gelateria. Osteria. Cioccolateria. Pasticceria. Trattoria. Discoteca...
Finally we reached the gates of Pompei Scavi. The tickets for adults are 11 Euros.
OH AND GOOD NEWS: THERE IS A TOILET RIGHT NEXT TO THE ENTRANCE.
THE ENTRANCE TO POMPEII!!!
It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the basis that the eruption and subsequent burial of the two towns had unexpectedly captured a very detailed picture of life and society at a very specific moment of time during the Roman Empire, frozen in stone.
When you arrive this is the first thing you see. Warning, as we observed on our initial approach into the amphitheatre, that this poor stone sign has been molested and rubbed by hundreds of tourists who think its okay to touch every single thing. PEOPLE: IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE TO FONDLE THINGS IN A MUSEUM OR HISTORICAL SITE WITH YOUR GRUBBY UNWASHED HANDS. Adults should teach their children to treat ancient things with respect. And any adults who don't understand this themselves should be slapped in the face with.... a day-old italian spinach pastry pie in a oil-stained paper bag. These items only managed to survive thousands of years because they were kept away from moisture and exposure and the palms of sweaty tourists.
"2.5 MILLION VISITORS A YEAR"!!!
But I guess Heritage tourism is a slippery slope. Pompeii apparently receives over 2.5 million visitors each year, and without tourism bringing in the revenue I can imagine it might be harder to justify the costs involved in maintaining the site in a decent condition. Yet you can imagine with such intense wear and tear and exposure to the elements, it must also be rapidly deteriorating...
SAP stands for "Soprintendenza archeologica di Pompei"
The town of Pompeii and Herculaneum stand in the shadow of Mount Vesusvius, and Pompeii seems to have been a commercial town with fairly sophisticated infrastructure (aqueducts! amphitheatre! huge roads!). The huge roads are indeed the original roads, and the stepping stones were made to facilitate human crossings.
In-between what used to be buildings
Inside a house
Bricks which one eventually comes to realize might be characteristic of buildings built in the 1st century AD.
Saw similar bricks used in other very very ancient things in Naples.
Minor quaking had been normal for the area, apparently. The area had been shaken by an earthquake before that, destroying some of its temples, and finally was completely covered during an catastrophic eruption on 24 August (AD 79). Vesusvius erupted, engulfing the town of Pompei and Herculaneum with volcanic ash and mud.
If you're like me, you probably came here for the, how do we say this, "human interest" element. And a day-trip to Pompeii means you really do have to run through it pretty quickly. So I will just cut to the money shot: the warehouses of items recovered from Pompei. There were no english signs but I'll assume that some of these may be replicas as I understand the originals should probably be at the Archaeological Museum of Naples (or other museums in Italy):
I was really very tired and cranky by this point so I stopped taking pictures of things and so from this point onwards there are only pictures of me pointing at things, taken by G.
EXTRA: POINTING AT THINGS IN POMPEII
Pointing at a spy rock
Pointing at a lock on a shed
Pointing at some marble
Pointing at a stone stove
Pointing at the number 13
Pointing at an arch
Pointing at some sign
Pointing at a no entry sign
Pointing at some flowers
Pointing at a picture of a missing man pasted outside the gift shop
Pointing at some cactus
[Photo credit: G]
EXTRA #2: DISCOVERING POPPIES IN REAL LIFE
I should add that I saw my first poppy at Pompeii. Somehow I had never seen a poppy in my time living in London, which meant I had NEVER SEEN A POPPY IN MY ENTIRE LIFE UNTIL THIS MOMENT. I was always aware of what poppies looked like because they would sell paper poppies on pins for one of those war rememberance days but honestly I somehow had never seen a real one before. (AMAZINGLY THEY DO LOOK LIKE PAPER POPPIES!!!)