Today was every bit as amazing as I hoped for!
Driving along the winding roads towards Naples and up to Mount Vesuvius, we couldn’t help but be amazed by the skill of the driver as he expertly swung the coach around the hairpin bends (very reminiscent of the closing scenes of the original Italian Job!). The coach took us most of the way and then we got off for a 25 minute walk to the edge of the crater almost 1300m above sea level. The view over Naples and out to sea was simply breath-taking and it was odd being higher than the planes taking off from the airport below. Around the crater, there was steam escaping from the cracks which really brought home the volatility of the Earth.
Walking back down, I could feel my legs getting a bit wobbly so it was good to get on the coach again for the drive to Pompeii.
After a pasta lunch, we entered the ancient Roman city and the first thing that struck me was how vast it was. From what I had seen on TV, I thought that Pompeii was just a couple of streets. Not at all! It really is a city and despite spending around 2 hours exploring, we still only scratched the surface of everything there is to see.
For most of the day, we enjoyed clear blue skies and hot sun but whilst at Pompeii, a storm front moved in and suddenly there was a torrential downpour with thunder and lightning. The skies turned black and Vesuvius was completely obscured which felt appropriate as a group of us huddled together under an arch gaining a tiny insight into how this Roman city was completely at the mercy of Mother Nature.
Exploring Pompeii, I was struck by 2 thoughts. First of all, when you think how advanced the Roman civilisation was (some buildings even had underfloor heating!) it’s hard to believe that the Vikings still weren’t around for several hundred years.
The other thought was that Pompeii was destroyed in 79AD yet today we are able to wander around the cobbled streets, see the shops with marble counters, the theatres, market places and the political slogans and paintings on the walls.
Next time you are on the high street, look around and think how much of it will be left in just under 2000 years time…
Tomorrow, a day trip to Capri!