From Firenze (Florence), we sailed to the port of Napoli (Naples). Napoli is the third largest city in Italy, after Rome and Milan, and the city where pizza was born. It is also home to the ancient city of Pompeii, which is where we began our day. In 79 A.D., Pompeii was partially buried by 20 feet of ash after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. It was rediscovered in 1748 and offers a wonderful glimpse of Roman life in the first century — frozen in time. There were homes, public baths, bakeries, temples, laundries, shops, food markets, bars, restaurants, an amphitheatre, swimming pool, gymnasium, hotel and the remains of an aqueduct that branched throughout the city of approximately 20,000 inhabitants.
The ruins of Pompei were initially stumbled upon in 1599, but most of the excavations took place in the 1700-1800s. Recent studies found that the reason the majority of people were killed in Pompeii was actually due to heat, instead of the once-believed ash suffocation. The intense heat of 250 degrees celcius could instantaneously kill people, even if they were sheltered 10 kilometres away. Archeologists poured plaster through holes found in the hardened layers of ash that covered victims, producing casts of victims during the horrifying moments before their deaths.
Pompeii left me with a slightly unsettled feeling — seeing these plaster casts and other creepy statues throughout the city. A thriving city filled with buildings and amenities much like ours, which could be wiped out in an instant.
After our fascinating, yet somewhat disturbing, tour of Pompeii, we had the afternoon free to explore the rest of Naples. My sister-in-law and I walked up and down the streets of Naples, while my other sister-in-law and her husband went their own way, determined to find the pizza place in the Julia Roberts film, “Eat, Pray, Love.”
The part I enjoyed the most was when we decided to take the back alleys back to the boat and away from the tourist shops. It was a true glimpse of Neapolitan life — fruit and vegetable markets, kids playing in the alleys, and laundry hanging from the balconies.
When we got back on the boat, I took these two pictures below. I was trying to capture a view of the entire city from the top of the ship, but as I lifted my camera, I was caught off guard by what I saw. So ironic to see this great ancient city juxtaposed against this bright, colourful, almost garish, cruise boat filled with people laying by the pool and drinking margaritas — such an opposite way of life and a really odd sight.
As our boat sailed for Santorini, Greece, my mother-in-law and I each grabbed some shots of the sun setting down to the sea, glowing above another cruise boat sailing in the distance.