|A "Cameo" carved into a conch shell in Pompeii. Pompeii is famous for it's conch shell cameos, among other things.|
The tour company has to hire local guides as we move about Italy, and for the most part, this works very well. They are friendly and molto knowledgeable. They work for tips.
Pompeii was pretty cool, but the tour would have been better if we had been able to understand what our guide was saying. His English was not so good. We somehow managed to figure most of it out.
The ancient city of Pompeii (there is a new town called Pompei ((with just one i at the end) a mile away)) was buried by an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius August 24th 79 A.D. The discovery of Pompeii is important because there have been no additions or alterations to the city since this time, so we can see exactly how the people lived around the time of Christ.
Herculaneum, a nearby town, was discovered in 1738 by workmen digging the foundations of a summer palace for the Spanish King of Naples. This lead to the later discovery of Pompeii.
|I bet you didn't know that they had slaves in Pompeii. Each family had 2 or 3, and these little honeycombs in the outside of the walls surrounding Pompeii are where they lived. They are about 4 feet wide and 2 feet tall. Not good.|
|Lots of areas blocked off for no apparent reason.|
|The farmers market. For sale, fish, wild boar, veggies etc.|
|The largest amphitheatre. It was designed for easy spectator traffic control entering and exiting.It constantly blew us away how advanced their thinking was. Man they were smart!|
The inhabitants of Pompeii had long been used to minor earthquakes, but on February 6th, 62 A.D., there was a big one which did considerable damage (Isn't it cool how they know the exact dates? Well they should, since they not only had calendars, they had clocks). Anyhow, that major quake was a hint the the volcano was building up pressure, but they didn't understand that. So they went about their business, and sure enough, 17 years later, "Bang!"
|A sundial, dated from 2,000 years ago. see the time lines in the semi-circle?There is a little piece of wood, like a needle, in the top center, which made the shadow. We checked it at 4:00pm, and it was dead on accurate.What will they think of next?|
|Some unearthed ruins.|
|Can you guess what these 3 large stones in the roadway are for? And what about the grooves?|
|Stray dogs are conveniently located throughout the town. They don't move much.|
|Portage lines up a shot in the town square.|
|That's Mt. Vesuvius in the background. They think 400 meters were blown off the top in the big eruption.|
|You think you had a bad day? They found a guy, maybe this guy, in the crawl space of an attic, where he tried to hide from the volcanic ash. Scratched in the ceiling above him, he had written "Nothing lasts forever".|
|Hi, New Jersey!|
|What the hell did he say? No capiche.|
|Looks like this guy was caught on one of those Turkish toilets. Most of the inhabitants died from inhaling poison gasses.Then they got covered in ash.|
|This dog was found chained to a house.|
|Anthony from Pompeii is really not having a good day.|
|Looks like Ron, Judy and Keith are trying to decipher the guide by reading his lips..|
|A pomegranate tree. They are everywhere in Pompeii.|
|The Italians are very good at basketball, and perhaps the National Team was making a visit.|
|Stray dog # 3.|
But the thing that really impressed me about Pompeii was that it was the birthplace of pornography. We didn't realize it at first, but then we went the "Cameo Store"mentioned at the top of this post, they had this painting above one of the stairways. You can click on it to get a closer look, but it is a nice example of 2,000 year old porn.
|I did a double take, that looks like...........why it is!|
|That is a penis carved into a cobblestone on the main street. It "pointed" to what was the oldest brothel ever discovered.|
|This is what's left of the brothel today.|
|Even the buses have porno names. Look just above the license plate.|
So we got quite an education as to how they lived in ancient Pompeii. The really weird thing is, they dug down below the Pompeii that was destroyed by the eruption in 79 A.D. and found 3 more Pompeiis below that! That means Pompeii has been destroyed at least 4 times, and rebuilt five times. And not only that, scientists say it's just a matter of time before Vesuvius blows again, and Pompeii and Naples will likely get wiped out. Mt.Vesuvius has an eruption every 20 years on average. The last one was in 1944. Just sayin'.
|Artists rendering of Vesuvius in 79 A.D.|
Thanks to better volcano monitoring, they'll have some warning this time (Mt. St. Helens had a week or so), but Naples is the 3rd most densely populated area on earth, may of them dirt poor. We saw thousands of houses that looked like sheds (but almost every one of them had a satellite dish). From Pompeii, we drove back to the harbour in Napoli (Naples) and got aboard our "Jetfoil" to Capri. Not a coincidence that this was the last spot on the tour, it was a definite highlight.
|The Jetfoil. It was a two beer trip from Naples to Capri.|
Next up, Capri. The scariest bus ride ever, Digger loses his backpack with the very important documents, causing him to go for his only run of the trip.