We wake up early and take the train out past the city limits of Napoli. We roll by palm trees and Italian vilas. Streaks of yellows, corals and greens.
Mt. Vesuvious stands silently in the distance.
40 minutes later We arrive at Pompeii.
The stones on the streets are old and worn. There were grooves where the wagon wheels cut through over the many years. I think Jade and I, and most people who come there thought the same thing. Where are the bodies? It was empty of them except for two that we found behind a gated area with rows of shelves holding old clay vessels. They were so captivating. The form of a human being in the last moments of their life. Reeling from the horror. It was such a telling and meaningful thing. So intense.
We wander down labyrinthian corridors with walls of endless tales. We find the bathhouse. I am told that the people would have weeklong parties in which they would lay on chaise lounges and eat copious amounts of food and then throw it all up so they could continue to eat more and more. He told me that the slaves ate the food that they had expelled. That little nugget of history blew my mind. Its so easy to glamorize living in another time or place— when I was in Venice I imagined living there in its prime and how it must have been so grand… and I would have had my little rowboat and I would have taken it through all the canals… As I was walking through Pompeii I imagined myself in the gardens, eating olives and fruits. But life was surely not so great for most. The upper echelon seemed to have had it pretty good… but their slaves…not so much.
We wander further and Jade and I saw an area that was blocked off with do not enter tape and our curiosity pulled our feet right over it. Barricades and do not enter signs are very important. They keep the good spots empty so you can enjoy them in peace. Just over the barrier we discover a beautiful garden and an excavation sight. We revel in our private viewing for a moment and then hop back over to the main strip.
Then we get a random phone call from the department of Transportation in Napoli. They need a materials list for the tram we’re going to paint and they need it now. Within the hour! -Or the money for the paint might be delayed. Everything stops and we go to a cafeteria in the middle of the ruins to make the list and drink a coffee. It had big glass doors and resembled a truck stop food joint; It could not have been more modern and out of place. We marveled at the atrocity and sipped our coffee and made our list.
Then just before the sun began to set, we were off to the amphitheater. We’d been saving the best for last. We walked down the corridor of the old marketplace where remnants of ancient signage still stuck to the stone walls. We wandered further, past rows of majestic Pino trees, and there, in the golden light of magic hour was the amphitheater. It was pretty impressive with many arches and tunnels. All of the most interesting tunnels were gated off, reminding me that I need to get a lock picking kit and get to practicing. Its true that they used to fill the amphitheater with water and have boat battles. I love that image. Love imagining that spectacle.
The last jewel of our trip, and for sure one of the most memorable happened just as we were leaving. Jade spotted a pomegranate tree, laden with fruit. We began the quest; gathering rocks and pinecones and taking turn making cracks at the hanging rubies. After some time with lots of laughter and no luck, Riccardo fashioned a pomegranate capturing device out of a branch. Three pomegranates down- and our fingertips and mouths were deep red with juice. We stopped there savoring it for a long while.
Jade & I ponder