Friday, January 19, 2018

Italy: Pompeii & Mount Vesuvius Eruption

I was super sad to be leaving Atrani and the Amalfi Coast... We had such a wonderful time, relaxing and catching up with each other. We hired a private driver to take us from Atrani to Pompeii, and it required an early rise to get to Pompeii at opening like we wanted. Gratefully, it allowed a gorgeous sunrise view before we got on our way.

Toast of my morning coffee to you!

While our driver was excellent, and the roads were in great shape, our drive had us going up, over, and through the mountains, and involved entirely too many switchbacks. The car sickness was almost too much. Thankfully, there were a few breaks along the way, and the ride ended right at the point that I was ready to jump out of the van and volunteer to walk the remainder of the way.

Mount Vesuvius in the distance

Mount Vesuvius in the distance

Mount Vesuvius in the distance: Mayer Clan!

As most of us learned in history class somewhere along the way in our public education, Mount Vesuvius unexpected erupted almost 2000 years ago, killing thousand of people. In the last century, significant efforts have been invested in uncovering the cities buried, and has revealed a civilization frozen in time with the ash preserving the remains all of this time.

While there are many archeological sites, we opted for the Herculaneum (a.k.a. Ercolano), as this was the "best" of them, and able to be explored in its entirety in a few hours. If you are in the region, I HIGHLY recommend that you visit one of the sites (this one is awesome, but it is the only one that I can speak to), as it is incredibly fascinating and captivating, all while quite sad. This location had an audio tour that you can rent, and it was the perfect accompaniment.

I was absolutely stunned with how well preserved things were: Art work, tiles, pottery, etc.
Here are some of my favorite shots from the Herculaneum:

And yes, the following are actual skeletons, not replicas:

After we finished with the Herculaneum, we caught the train to Naples for "THE BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD". Seriously. Pizza is a religion in Italy, and Neopolitan pizza is its God. I'm not kidding; there are associations and certifications about this stuff! Read HERE.

The best of the best: Antica Pizzeria di Matteo.
We were lucky that we arrived when we did, as there were only 2 groups ahead of us and we only waited for about 10 minutes for a table. You only have two options to eat: pizza with cheese and pizza without cheese. Also, you do NOT share pizza. So, four cheese pizzas for us please! It was worth the hype. Simple yet mind-blowing. And when we left, there were dozens of people waiting to get in!