Today I went to Pompeii on what is my second and last day in Naples. (For the curious, the ruins of the ancient city are spelled “Pompeii” and the living city surrounding it is spelled “Pompei”.) While I started the morning early, the Italian train system decided to thwart my endeavors, making me wait for 80 minutes for the train to Salerno to finally depart. Granted, it has been overcast and raining most of the day today so waiting always means there is a small chance that it will clear up so waiting seemed more like an opportunity than other. On the ride to Pompeii I had a pleasant talk with a resident of Salerno who explained to me a bit of the history of Napoli, which means “New City”, in reference to the Romans destroying the Greek city originally there and then building over top of it. He also mentioned that it takes at least five days to see all of Napoli; next time!
I took a quick five-minute walk from Pompei’s train station to the southern most entry of Pompeii itself. I found out that this is not the gate most people recommend starting from; however, the positive of this is that most of the early-morning tourists like myself were on the other end of the forty-five hectares of renovated ancient ruins. To which I was glad since less people allows me to focus on getting shots without the odd balding head in the shot. The ruins are quite extensive, providing an opportunity to immerse myself in what life might have been around 79 BC in what was then a colony of Rome. You can visit numerous pubic areas, some seating up to five-thousand people to smaller, more acoustically-tuned centers for sharing music and poetry. There are a number of bakeries and stores and even a bath-house available for direct viewing. What is more, there is even a large house of prostitution replete with visual guidance for patrons needing a clue on how to get the most out of their money; a lot like Ikea assembly instructions if you think about it. Pompeii is, like so much of a good thing, a lot of information and visual stimulation to process in a single day. My only regret is the rain obscured my view of Mount Vesuvius which I would have dearly like to have seen.
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