Monday, January 12, 2015

Pompeii, a snapshot in time.

Even before arriving in Sorrento with Chris' friends Cathy and Gigi, we looked forward to our day in Pompeii.  Ever since I saw the movie, "The Last Days of Pompeii" from the 1950's that starred Preston Foster, I think, Pompeii has held a more than passing interest for me.  Chris and I saw the Pompeii exhibit at the LA County Museum over the summer that wet our appetite.  We decided on a private tour for the four of us.  Picked up at our hotel by the tour driver, Daniel, we weaved out of Sorrento and and made our way to the site.  Our tour guide was recommended by Rick Steves, the tour guide master, and even he admitted he was a bit pricey.  When first told about him, I heard Chris say, "he's $170 for the 2 hour tour. " "Wow, I said, that isn't bad for four of us."  "No, Chris said, "that's per person."  Oh....

Gaetano Manfredi met us at the site and is a 3rd generation tour guide of Pompeii.  His knowledge and passion was evident right from the start.  Even his son joined us as he is next in line to carry on their family tradition.  The encased people you all have seen were stunning and left me in awe.  The life style of this city in 74 AD was one of trade and wealth.  A seaport town that brought men from every corner of the Roman Empire too enjoy "la dolce vita" the good life.

Today, Pompeii sits almost two miles from the ocean.  This because of the eruption that took place in 74 AD covered the port in ash and rock.  There is still one quarter of the city that has not been unearthed.  It was a pity that the Spanish were first to  uncover the ruins in the 18th century as they plundered much of what they found, leaving just the skeleton of this beautiful city.  What Gaetano gave us was how the city lived.  Wine bars, fast food places, saunas, condominiums, gymnasiums, theaters, their colosseum, and their brothels.  Two way traffic, crosswalks, beware of dog signs and "pedestrian only" squares.  Things we take for granted today, were present 500 years before Christ in Pompeii.  All ending in a flash.

Gaetano explaining how flour was made for making bread in the bakery.
A crosswalk on a two-way street.

Gigi and Cathy in the town square.  Mt Vesuvius looming in the  background.

"Beware of Dog" sign in a foyer of a middle class home.

A family pet writhes in agony.
We finished our tour with "free" wine tasting at Sorrentino Winery, located on the slopes of Mt Vesuvius. Then a made dash up to the summit of the volcano only to arrive 3 minutes to late to gain entry into the park.  Daniel was remorseful as he failed to deliver us in time.  Actually, we were glad as a 30 minute walk up a 1000 foot path to look inside a crater was the last thing we wanted to do.  

The day ended with a sunset overlooking Sorrento.  A good way to end a special day.

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