02.06.2009 - 03.06.2009
Planes, trains and automobiles..
Our journey back from Santorini consisted of a half hour transfer from Oia to the airport, planes from there to Rome via Athens, trains from Rome Fiumucino airport to Napoli via Roma Termini, and a 'Circumvesuviana' train from Napoli to Sant Agnello, where we got caught in a drenching rain shower, packs and all, on the 500m walk from the station. We couldn't help but burst out laughing whilst cowering under closed shop awnings and rail bridges trying to save our packs from complete disaster!
The excavation site of Pompeii consists of 60 hectares of a well preserved working town, of which 12 are open to the public. A half hour ride from Sant Angello got us to the town gates, and with maps and audioguides in hand, we set about exploring the ancient site.
Walking around the cobbled streets and buildings of an ancient town was as fascinating as it was eery - even vineyards and gardens had been preserved underground and post restoration, are in bloom as if it were yesteryear, and fountains flow with fresh streaming water from ancient piping. As distinct from Roman and Egyptian ruins that we had seen previously, the stunning aspect was that since the town was buried till recently, much of the town was intact, not subject to pillaging and weather damage.
Highlights included the ancient sports arena, similar but smaller than Rome's colosseum, the amphitheatres, and some of the homes and restaurants. The most disturbing were the plaster casts made of the victims who died during the volcanic explosion that rendered the town extinct - created by filling the cavities in which their bodies lay and decayed over the centuries before excavation. Poses show expressions of shock, fright, desparation, and despair.