After our day at sea, the ship docked at Naples on the morning of June 16. We had signed up for our fourth and final shore excursion this day – a trip that involved Pompeii, a stop at a cameo company, lunch at a pizzeria, and a trip to the National Archaeological Museum (at least the Naples branch of it; I’m not sure whether there are more elsewhere in Italy).
In the morning, we had breakfast at the pool at the back of the ship, as was our custom. In this picture you can see a bit of Naples in the background.
Then we went down to the Princess Theater to wait for our tour to begin, as usual. One thing about the speedy tour boarding process that I didn’t mention when I talked about it before (Day 6) was the entertaining Shore Excursion Manager who dismissed us from the theater. He was a Mexican guy who could not stand still; he roamed around the theater with a microphone and said things like:
“Ladies, if your husband isn’t here yet, take the man on your other side. It’s time to go. Too bad for him.”
“Santorini is beautiful. I’m going there for my next honeymoon, I guarantee.”
Once we were on the bus, we rode with our tour guide south of the city, past Mt. Vesuvius, to Pompeii. We were at Pompeii for a few hours, and didn’t get a chance to see the whole city. But we saw a lot of it, and this is just one of those tradeoffs you make when you sign up for a tour.
Of course, the fascinating thing about Pompeii is that it was destroyed by an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD, and everyday life was going on in the city up until the moment of the eruption. So it is remarkably well-preserved. For instance, you can see speed bumps in the roads (note the ruts from chariot wheels as well):
There are also bodies of those who were encased in lava during the eruption – like this one, laying on the table in the middle of the picture:
Someone pointed out to our tour guide that the bodies looked very small. She said that Romans had an average height that was much shorter than most people today. Julius Caesar, she noted, was only about 5 feet tall.
Our guide also showed us the difference between houses and shops (shops had a groove in the doorway for a sliding door), and pointed out several ancient fast food joints, which all had these bowls in the counter tops next to the street:
Here is our guide in a bakery, with an oven to the left of the picture. There were several pieces of bread found in this oven when it was excavated (they weren’t edible anymore, in case you were wondering):
After we left Pompeii, our tour bus stopped at a company that makes cameos. Cameos were, according to our tour guide, invented in Naples (or at least the Naples region). I knew very little about cameos before we got there. I didn’t even know that they were made from seashells. Mary, recognizing a good gift when she saw one, bought three: one for her mom, one for her sister, and one for her:
Following the stop at the cameo company, we drove all around Naples to get to the pizzeria where we ate our very own Neapolitan “pizza pie” (as our tour guide called it at least a dozen times during our tour). The pizza was also invented in Naples. In addition to saying “pizza pie” so many times, she also would often begin her sentences with “all’ora, ladies and gentlemen…” We asked her at the end of the tour what “all’ora” (sp?) meant, and she said it meant, “and now…” Mary and I now sometimes begin our sentences to one another with this phrase.
Our final stop for the tour was the National Archaeological Museum, which has lots of art unearthed from the surrounding area, especially Pompeii. One of the most fascinating things (to me) that they had there was the Alexander Mosaic, which was found in the House of the Faun in Pompeii (the House of the Faun is named for a statue of a dancing faun that was found there). Copies of both the faun and the mosaic are in Pompeii, while the originals were relocated to the museum. Here is the whole mosaic, which depicts a battle between Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia:
Here is a detail of Darius, who looks worried:
Following the tour, we returned to the ship and looked around as we sailed away. Here is a picture of Vesuvius. I don’t care whether it IS one of the most closely observed volcanoes in the world; I still wouldn’t build my house that close.