Pompeii and the Longest Bus Ride

Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Pompei, Campania, Italy
Actually, it was a rather enjoyable bus ride overall. This was our first experience with the packed lunches prepared for us by the hotel. They were mostly bread with a few pieces of meat and/or cheese. Some complained that there was no mayonnaise, but that didn't bother me. I much prefer other condiments to mayo. Unless it's aioli. That's delicious. Sandwiches and fresh fruit aside, the bus ride to Pompeii was a great way to see the countryside of Italy. Beautiful rolling hills and mountains behind valleys filled with farms and waterways. Flocks of sheep grazing, withering farm houses that still house families, rows of olive trees in fields to provide for the farmers and their families.

It was a slow start in Pompeii working out details of which people were separated into what groups . Then there was the matter of bathroom breaks and a few people who had some minor injuries and ended up sharing a pair of crutches during our tour. The information was phenomenal! It was amazing seeing the volcano off in the distance, knowing that its destructive force brought the end to hundreds of lives. Ash, rock, and noxious gas rained down upon the village killing many right where they slept. The streets were quiet and not bustling with life and business, family and entertainment like it was nearly 2,000 years ago. The streets had been reassembled, and not all of the grooves made by the repeated use of chariot wheels were aligned exactly.

This famous site was one I saw in history books and had always wanted to visit. So well preserved by layers of rock and ash, artifacts were pulled out by the hundreds during some of the excavations. We were hoping to see statues that had been dusted off and stood up for display, plaster casts of decayed bodies still in the rooms where they were found, but all that remained were the frescos on the walls and a few pieces of pottery hidden in a back room . The majority of the plaster casts, and all of the limestone statues were moved to a museum which we didn't get to see. It was like an ancient ghost town set in front of a picturesque sky. Modern statues and sculptures that attempt to recreate the pagan and carnal nature that was so much a part of the culture of the city were placed throughout open courtyards and behind walls that once were amphitheaters and houses, meeting places and baths.

If we had the time we could have seen twice as much as we did, but that's not even a quarter of everything. We left the old city and headed back through the modern shops to buy ice cream and gifts to take home with us. Another bus ride was in order. We made it back in time for our usual four course meal complete with four or five kinds of fish, ten kinds of mozzarella, and probably some delicious dessert. Much better than sandwiches.
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