Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Pompeii, Italy, (I)

Pompeii, Italy, (I)

To ride from Brindisi to Pompeii means riding across Italy from East to West, it can be done in one day. We used the Autostrada, the Super Slab Highway System in Italy. It’s a toll system and it is not cheap. You can figure between US $30 to $40 per day. They charge by distance so it all depends how many miles you ride. 

We started off in dry conditions but then it started to rain, it is now October, and so the nice and sunny days seem to be gone. Still we are glad this is not snow. We are too far South in Italy to get snow this early. Riding North? That is another question and that is why we do not want to diddle along now. The ride today was rainy, we got soaked. The traffic was typically Italian, a bit pushy, cars trying to share the same lane with you, almost bumping you off the road. It is a bit freaky since we are not used to it, but in general they are good drivers, they just drive differently than in other countries. The speed limit on the Autostrada is 130 km per hour but Carol’s bike does not like this speed. We puttered along at 118 km and all was fine. If we went even just a bit over our set speed, let’s say 120, then her bike started to buzz. She rides a single cylinder bike (2002/GS650) and the motor on this bike is just not made to ‘race’. It’s a great bike but not a racer. Riding in Italy is again a learning curve; it seems each county has developed their own style of using the roads. The Autostrada is a good highway system, trucks keep to the right side of the 2 lane road and the traffic moves at a good clip. We made it to Pompeii.
Pompeii Excavation Today 
Lots Of Locals In The Streets 
I have never been to this famous old town and it’s just one of the things to see on this Earth. Never mind that we needed to get north and over the Alps. Carol and I did our best to get to Pompeii early but it was 5.30 PM by the time we arrived at our hotel in Pompeii; too late to visit the excavations, and too late to visit a museum. We parked our bikes in the back of the hotel under fig and lemon trees, behind an iron fence. The bikes were secure. To find the hotel meant riding around the block once because it was not an obvious Hotel to find. Hotel Iside was within walking distance of the Pompeii Archaeological Site, a good location.

The day of arrival we just visited the local cathedral and since it was Sunday, the church was jam packed with believers. I knew that Italy is very catholic, very religious, but it still left me a bit surprised to see so many people in the large space of the cathedral, especially since this was for the afternoon services.

The town (the modern Pompeii) had lots of people in the streets, lots of small groups standing around, young people just chatting away, older men sitting on benches watching the going on, women sharing a story, it was happy town life. Yes we were the visitors, but most of the people we saw seemed to be locals on this late Sunday afternoon.

We ate dinner someplace, trying hard not to find a tourist spot, yet I am sure most businesses here live off the crowds that come to see Pompeii. The food we received was good but the service? Getting the appetizer at the same time as the main dish? I don’t understand, but we did not come here to eat well, we came here to see what, so long ago, was a living city during Roman times.

I expect you all know that on a fateful summer morning in A.D. 79 Mount Vesuvius buried the vibrant Roman city of Pompeii—and many of its citizens—beneath tons of volcanic ash and debris.
Please READ this part of National Geographic:  t will give you a good idea of what happened…..     
Vesuvius In The Background 

Today many people have a visit to Pompeii on their bucket list. It is a worth-while place to visit.

It is difficult to describe one’s feelings when stepping into the exhibition park like we did the next day. The ashes that fell on the terrible day in AD 79 covered up most of the city but most have since been removed by archaeologists. After removal of the pumice all that was left were the ruins. The ruins of Pompeii give a clear view of what life was like then. It seems like a stopped watch. All life stopped at once. Everything was preserved at a given hour. Vines that grew, trees that bloomed, people that lived, dogs, cats, horses, all of it, was frozen in time, in space; and was preserved to a degree. The scientists can tell what variety of grapes were grown then, what kind of fruit trees were in their gardens, what people did when the catastrophe hit. The attack of the mountain was aided by gases that froze people in mid stride. Their panic, their grief, their last breath is preserved in an exhibition of forms that were created by filling hollowed out spaces under the ashes with resin to show their last moments. While the bodies of the people have decomposed, the space they occupied under the ashes gives all of us now a ‘view’ of what it was like. It is disturbing to look at, yet extremely informative.
Shocking Last Breath 

Carol and I did all the walking we could the next morning when we visited the sites. We got a good, albeit, quick oversight of Pompeii. We did however feel the urge to move on, to get on the road again. The threatening clouds in the sky meant rain down here in Italy, but farther north? What does it mean for us?  We saddled up after about 4 hours of visiting and started riding in the afternoon to go north. Autostrada all the way, time is now of the essence. Never mind the expense of the tolls.

Peaceful Today 

Stoned Roads, and Stepping Stones 

The old Colors Inside The Homes 

The Old Market Square With Vesuvius In The Background


A Fiasco,  The Same River But Does Not Meet Here 

We got as far as Ponzano (North of Rome), where we had made a reservation via Bookings. Ponzano is a very small town that did not even have a restaurant. We walked all around the place and asked people but no, nothing, no place to eat. We found a very local store and just bought cheese, meats and bread and had a picnic in the B&B we crashed in. Our walk after we ate gave us a view over the ‘fiasco’ of the ‘Fiume Tevere’ River, (Tiber River) a very narrow space where a giant loop in the river brings it back to itself only separated by this small space.


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