Naples, Pompeii and Herculaneum

3 minute read

Today was a loooooong day... you could even say I got "ruined" haha. First thing in the morning I got on a bus to go out to the ruins of Pompeii. The one thing I can say about the roman town of Pompeii is that it is much, much bigger than I imagined. Overall, the excavated town is 169 acres. I also imagined I was just going to go look at rocks all day, but the ruins were well preserved and the structure of the ancient buildings was preserved. You could clearly get a good idea of how they lived and died, evident by the abundant frescos and mosaics, as well as plaster casts of the bodies in their death positions. There was no lava that covered the town, only 17 feet of ash and most people died through suffocation of sulfur dioxide. As people died (with their hands over their mouths) they were covered with the ash. When the ash hardened over time, and the bodies decayed, there were now open crevices where the bodies once were. When the excavators found these, they would fill them with plaster and allow an accurate reproduction, down to the face, of the civilians of Pompeii. Some of the highlights of the town were the Temple, the Grand Square, the Brothel, and small bits of technology sprinkled throughout. For example, they would put small pieces of brilliant white stone in the roads of larger stones so that in moonlight, the roads were still visible as the light reflected off the stone.
We came back to they ship the almost immediately went out to the ruins of Herculaneum. Herculaneum is the next town down from Pompeii, one town farther from Mount Vesuvius. While Pompeii was found and bagan excavating in the 16th century, Herculaneum was only found in the last century. Because it was buried deeper, and stayed underground longer, it was much better preserved than Pompeii. Some of the 2000-year-old mosaics were still intact and looked as if they were laid only a couple of hundred years ago. Only about 25 percent of the town has been uncovered and it is still being excavated, we even got to saw them work. The one huge difference between Herculaneum and Pompeii is that the former was a vacation town, a tourist town for the Romans, whereas Pompeii was a major metropolitan city of its time. Just like nowadays, in the city, buildings were big, but shops and living quarters were small, streets were busy and there were large squares for gathering people. Herculaneum looked more like a country club. Since the excavation, they have replanted in the soil and some of the ruins are so well preserved that as I walked through, I really felt like I was back in Roman times, seeing the way they had intended the town to look 2000 years ago.
The town of Naples, Italy's third largest city, was very dirty and decrepid. I was really bummed out about the state of the town. Of all the cities I have visited throughout the world, in more than a dozen different countries, Naples was probably the ugliest (even over Tijuana!). It of course had a few gems, such as the large church on top of the hill and the 12th century castle, but overall the city was not that impressive. Most of it was damaged during WWII and when they built up again, they built fast and without any sense of the asthetic value to the city. I really had expected more from souther Italy. Tuscany is a much more beautiful area and there is a reason almost all of the "Italy" that we see in movies, is filmed there.
After dinner onboard, the whole fam went to see a magician/illusionist in the main theater. During the show he had asked for volunteers and my Uncle Dan was pulled up on stage for a pretty cool trick. He was stoked because of the hot assistant haha. After that everyone else pretty much went to bed and Louise and I hung out for a bit. I am excited that I get to sleep in tomorrow as it is a ship-day, meaning we have no ports to visit and stay on the ship, on our way around Italy to the next port. Up Next: 2 Days in Venice!

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