Friday, August 3, 2012

Pompeii, No Vesuvius, and Dinner with a View

After another nice breakfast at Villa Adriana, we walked to the Circumvesuviana train station and bought round trip tickets to Pompeii. The train reminded me of the 7 train (before they updated the cars) that I've taken to Shea and Citi Field on the New York City Subway many times. As we boarded the train, which filled with a combination of tourists and commuters, a few guys stepped on board with instruments and started playing "La Bamba.". Not exactly an Italian song, but it was fun anyway. My niece didn't love it at first, but after they finished, each of the kids gave them a few cents.

When we arrived at Pompeii, we made our way through the block of tourist leeches selling knock-off guide books and postcards to the ticket windows.

We were expecting the kids to be free. The man at the window asked us where we were from. We answered "the United States." He fired back, "No Discount for you! 44 Euro.". I was reminded of the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld. There was an amazing view of the ruins from the pathway to the entrance that gave a taste of what was to come.

After we entered, we started a walking tour of the site that I had photocopied from our Rick Steves guidebook. Between the information in that tour and my brother-in-law who has a doctorate in Mediterranean archaeology, we learned a ton. We started with the Forum, the Temple of Jupiter, and some of the current archaeological discoveries.

Next, we saw some of the plaster molds that were made by pouring plaster into the holes left by the bodies that were buried in ash. The detail was amazing.

Next, we explored one set of Roman baths, and the House of the Tragic Poet.

My brother-in-law the insisted that we break from the tour and visit the House of the Mysteries, which wasn't listed. I'm so glad we had HMO along, because this was the most incredible site in all of Pompeii, in my opinion. It's actually outside what was the city of Pompeii, who it's about a 20 minute walk to get there.

The house was incredible with full frescos, amazing detail, and a chance to see archaeologists at work restoring the floors.

By then, we were all very hot, sweaty, thirsty, and tired. We made our way back to the main part of the site and quickly toured the House of the Faun.

The kids (and adults) needed a break. We stopped for lunch in the cafeteria, which served touristy, mediocre food at high prices.

While at lunch, both kids decided it was too hot to go to the top of Mount Vesuvius. We made sure they understood that this would be their only opportunity on the trip. It was the one thing that Michael had been excited about for a month. They both agreed that they'd rather go back to the pool. We spend about an hour after lunch exploring more of Pompeii, and then boarded the train back to Sorrento.

After swimming and naps back at the Villa, the kids, Lori, and I walked down to Marina Grande for dinner to Trattoria da Emilia, right on the water in the harbor. We got there right as it opened at 7, and easily got a corner table with views of Mount Vesuvius, the beach, and the boats.

We had read in several guidebooks and on Tripadvisor that this place was both inexpensive, good, and authentic, so we were excited to try it. We weren't disappointed. I was proud of myself for ordering our meal totally in Italian. We got a sampling of different local meats, cheeses, olives, and fish for our antipasti, glasses of house wine, a 1 liter bottle of natural water. For our main course, Abby had a half portion of spaghetti with mussels, Michael had spaghetti with a tomato sauce, Lori had fried calamari, and I ordered a plate of fried fresh fish. It was amazing, especially the kids pasta dishes and the antipasti. Lori and I were excited to get the same olives that we loved so much at Palo on our Disney Cruise. Our waitress there had told us they come from this region. I really enjoyed my dinner, but it took me a little time to figure out how to get some of the fish away from the bones. I got the hang after a bit.

The sun set as we were having dinner, so the walk back up to town was breathtakingly beautiful. We stopped for a few pictures.

Before meeting up with the rest of the family to join the passiagetta, we stopped at the highly regarded Gelataria Davide to compare it with the place we had gone the past few nights. While the atmosphere was much less warm and cozy, the gelatto was awesome. Especially the dark chocolate.

Tomorrow we had planned to ferry to Ischia, but we decided to take the SITA bus to Positano instead. The Amalfi Coast sounds incredible. We're hoping that the ride is not too bad on our stomachs.

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Location:Via Sant'Antonio,,Italy

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