Thursday, August 05, 2010

Sorrento, day 3 - 10,000 steps in Pompeii (part 1)

We had planned to go to Capri but - despite a notice on bus stop saying that you could buy tickets on the bus, the driver said we had to buy a ticket in advance and wouldn’t budge. We'd already waited 20 minutes for the bus, and realised that we wouldn’t be able to catch a decent ferry, so we decided to visit Pompeii instead. Today's act on the train was a band with a singer-guitarist, accordion player and double bass player, and they were very good.



We weren’t quite sure what to expect, but Pompeii was much bigger than we'd expected. (I would advise (a) taking lots of water and (b) making sure you have VERY comfortable shoes – we were glad we did both.)



First of all we went through the Marina entrance and into the area with the basilica, the Forum and the temple of Apollo. This is the Forum, which was basically the law courts.


But the thing you’re really aware of is the looming presence of Vesuvius.


The architecture was stunning. In the second century BC, the Romans were able to build brick columns like this one. What incredible skill their builders had. (That’s the outer. As with all columns of this type, brick or stone, the core is rubble. Ditto the huge Norman pillars you see in English churches. Nerd alert over for now.)



Then we took a wander over to the House of the Tragic Poet (with the wonderful ‘cave canem’ mosaic – not a good pic because the sun was in the wrong position). There are lots of stray dogs in Pompeii (and Chloe wanted to take them all home); there’s a campaign for people to help adopt strays, and the mosaic is used as its symbol.



We noticed that the pavements are raised, and there are stepping-stones to cross the road. (I liked these very much, and we spent rather a lot of time crossing them.) You can also see the grooves from the wheels of long-gone carts that have worn away the paving stones on the road.



Then we visited the Forum Baths. The mosaics and frescoes can speak for themselves.





There are lots of little cauponae scattered around the town – basically these were bars where people would have a drink and buy snacks (which might be hot stew or a bowl of olives). The bars themselves were marble and utterly beautiful, and I rather fell for them.

Here we have a barmaid and her customer… (He said her prices were too steep and went to refill his water bottle from the free fountain in the street instead.)

10 comments:

Morton S Gray said...

Hi Kate,
You are bringing back so many memories! We were on a corporate event when we visited Pompeii and had a treasure hunt through the steets in teams. Your warning about the water is right, I seem to think I got a horrible headache that day. It must have been a thriving place and so beautiful.
Morton x

susanwilson44 said...

Remember having a crazy moment in Pompeii, was in the grounds of the largest house and really, really wanted to disappear back in time, just for a few seconds to see what it was like. And to think I've never been a time-travel girl.....
Our guide said the stones in the road were to stop people getting wet feet, something about overflows in houses for fountains, pools etc

Carol Townend said...

It looks WONDERFUL! You are giving me itchy feet!

Caroline said...

Again, great photo's Kate. Thanks for bringing Pompeii to "life". One day I *will* go there (and to Herculaneum of course.) Caroline xx

Lacey Devlin said...

So gorgeous!

Kate Hardy said...

Morton - what a fab place to do a corporate event! (And there's a lightbulb... thank you *g*) With all those gardens and that gorgeous architecture, it must've been stunning.

Kate Hardy said...

Susan - smiling at your time-travel moment. I felt like that, too.

Mmm, I thought that's why the pavements were raised and the stones were there. I liked the way they were so cleverly spaced, so carts could go through them without problems. And to think those beautiful mosaic floors were in existence 1700 years before we still had beaten earth floors...

Kate Hardy said...

Carol - it's a real experience. (Two more lots of pics here to come, plus two at Herculaneum.) You'd LOVE it.

Kate Hardy said...

Caroline - these two were at the top of my wishlist for many, many years. And it lived up to expectations. Definitely one day :o)

Kate Hardy said...

Lacey - glad you're enjoying it!