In the Shadow of Vesuvius

An early start to the day meant that we had to pack everything the night before. We were leaving Rome behind today. The remainder of our trip would be spent in Sorrento — it was our ‘home base’ so to speak.

The hotel we stayed in was call the Grand Hotel La Favorita. It was stunning! The lobby was all marble with floor to ceiling windows. We had a room on the main floor, steps from the main lobby. Again, it was all marble with floor to ceiling windows over looking a pretty garden area. This would make for a comfortable few days to be sure!

After having checked in, we met our group in the lobby to board our charter to Pompeii. It was about an hour, maybe less, from Sorrento. The day was already a hot one. We arrived at Pompeii and met with our tour guide. She already seemed annoyed with our group. I hardly could blame her, some of the older women were already complaining about the heat.

Having dreamed of coming to Pompeii my entire university career, I couldn’t wait to see it! Of what little I did see I was blown away. That was less than a 1/4 of it though. Our guide barely scratched the surface in giving us her tour of the buried city. I was utterly disappointed when we were ushered back to the main gate to leave. We were maybe there an hour and a half. Not nearly enough time to see anything in Pompeii! My dad even asked our guide if we could stay longer and hail a cab back to Sorrento. She told us no because we had plans for the rest of the day. We were pretty angry about the whole thing!

Ahem….so despite my time in Pompeii being limited, we did see some amazing things. It is incredible how well preserved the city is and what archaeologists were able to recover. Some areas of the city were off limits due to the digs that are still taking place. The most amazing thing of it all, I think, were the mosaic tile floors that were still intact. They were absolutely stunning!

There is an area of the city that is gated off from tourists. It houses all the pottery and architectural items that have been salvaged from the city. Also located in this section are some of the bodies recovered from the ash and rubble. Pictures of them in my books do not do them justice. It is heartbreaking to see them in person. The other bodies on display were located in an area thought to be the marketplace. Their teeth are completely intact! And their finger bones were protruding through their ash encasements. It sent shivers down my spine despite being +30 degrees celsius.

Speaking of the marketplace, the frescos on the walls were beautifully preserved. Their colours popped as if they were freshly painted. We were told these frescos acted as advertisements for the the vendor was selling. Everywhere you turn there is something to see. At one point we were standing in what would have been a forum of some kind. Our guide was giving us some info, I don’t know really, I was listening to be  honest. But I caught something she did say as she pointed out how close Mt. Vesuvius was to Pompeii. The people who once lived amidst it’s beauty knew the possibility of its impending doom and yet they say, it ‘is the price we pay to be lucky enough to live in the shadow of Vesuvius…’ Just incredible.

Although my time here was far, far too short, I enjoyed what I could of Pompeii. As I’ve told many friends, I will go back on my own time without a guide to explore the city on my own. One day…

When we got back to Sorrento, we had about 2 hours to ourselves to explore before meeting up for a group dinner. 2 hours we could have spent back in Pompeii! I blame the other members of our group who ruined our tour. Had they not been whining the whole time, we might have stayed longer! Argh!

Sorrento is a beautiful area! The streets are tiny and lined with artisan shops. Lots of lemoncello to sample…if you like that sort of thing. Try it at least once if you’re ever in Italy. Where our hotel was situated, the little street smelled of leather goods. Every shop sold leather bags, wallets, coats etc. The smell was intoxicating.

We opted to skip out on the group dinner. We had had enough of them for one day. During our down time we ended up finding a great restaurant we wanted to try for dinner. It was called La Lanterna, and I highly recommend it if you’re in Sorrento! The restaurant is located on the ruins of an ancient Roman bath. I have no idea what the interior of the restaurant looks like because we ate on the patio. We ended up eating there again during our stay in Sorrento. The food and atmosphere is something not to be missed.

Well our day was rather disappointing, but not a complete loss. We are looking forward to what else we will be getting up to while in Sorrento. We have plans to see AnaCapri and Capri as well as the Amalfi Coast before our adventure in Italy comes to an end.

Until next time…

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