Monday, 24 February 2014

Salerno for a Cruise Ship Tour to Pompeii

MSC Sinfonia docked at Salerno
At last I could fulfill a long-held dream, to visit Pompeii. Ever since I took Latin at high school and learnt about that doomed city I had wanted to go there. And now, on a half day ship's tour, I could. 
The coach picked us up on the dock right beside the ship and whisked us the 30 kilometres along a motorway to the ruins. It was an early start which was good as we could explore the site before many of the hordes of sightseers arrived.

Near the entrance to Pompeii
I was amazed at the size of the archaeological site - it's enormous - and still so much has yet to be excavated. There are dozens of store rooms full of amphorae, bits of broken statues, roof tiles, carvings and who knows what else tied up in plastic bags that look the worse for wear. The sheer scale of the site and the overwhelming number of artifacts is mind-blowing.

A store room at Pompeii
The layout of the city is typically ancient Roman with straight streets in a grid pattern. Huge raised paving stones sit in the middle of the streets so you could cross the road without getting your shoes wet. These stones are spaced exactly so carts could trundle by. Their wheels have left grooves in the roads' surfaces.

A typical street at Pompeii
The amphitheater has been restored. As you walk around Pompeii it is easy to look into the rows of houses and apartments and imagine them with their roofs on and their walls intact. Some of the houses are named, indicating who lived in them at the time of the eruption.

Pompeii's amphitheater
Beautiful mosaic wall features and pavements are still fresh and bright despite having been buried under mountains of ash for centuries. Some bronze statues have been restored and replaced in their original positions. 

A mosaic floor featuring doves

A word of caution: the site is huge, the ground uneven, the tour guides set a cracking pace, you walk several kilometres. With my mobility issues I found it exhausting and very painful to keep up with the group. It was sheer stubbornness that kept me going! And not wanting to miss out on somewhere that I was desperate to see.

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