Wednesday, October 15, 2014

10/9/14 Day 266 Driving the Amalfi Coast and Walking through Ancient Pompeii

The Amalfi coast, one of those must see, amazing places you will never forget, a top coastal drive for the guidebook countdowns. Could this peninsula be more overrated? Ok sure it has some beautiful Mediterranean fauna, and a fantastic windy road to drive from village to hillside nestled village, but for me the tourist buses driving through choke out more than the oncoming traffic, they choke out the desire for driving a road like this to begin with! It is not like there were 2, or 3 or 4 tour buses! In the less than 2 hours that it takes to drive the 60 kilometers from Salerno to the other end of the peninsula we saw at least 25 full sized tour buses. With roads like this when a vehicle that big rounds a sharp corner oncoming traffic literally has to stop and occasionally backup to give the tour buses the right of way. Add to that all of the idiots in rental cars who can not drive these roads confidently and the ridiculously impatient Italian drivers into the mix and you have a real miserable tourist ruined drive. 

Road rage calmed, next on the agenda, Pompeii, a bustling ancient Roman town that was buried and incinerated during the Mount Vesuvius reruption of 79 AD. The who town was buried in 15+ feet of volcanic ash, preserving it for centuries. We walked into Pompeii, as for the entrance fee to the park we just walked along the side and skipped on in, free of charge. We spent the better part of the hot day wandering through the old city that was buried under volcanic ash almost 2,000 years ago. The tour groups in the hot midday sun were out of control, so many guided groups in every language you could imagine. None of them seemed content to randomly wander the ruins besides us without a guide. The whole time we walked through the park I was vaguely searching for the Antiquarium, where the museum full of the instantly lifeless victims of the blast were supposed to be kept, a snapshot into their life in 79AD right down to the expressions they wore as their bodies were incinerated by the molten debris., it is this that has amazed me about Pompeii for years. It wasn't until the very end of the day when we truly made it our mission to look for this and an extra 40 minute loop because the info desk misled us that we discovered they haven't had the Antiquarium for 10 years and that the 16 castes they do have are scattered throughout the park, what a bust! We camped at the car park of Vesuvius for the night after a short forty minute drive up and around the tight bends with an unbelievable city view of Napoli below us, and the shining stars above.

Beginning our drive near Salerno

I mean seriously does this huge bus really need to be on this tiny street?!
Almost to the end of the peninsula

Apparently we can't get a selfie without a tour bus taking all of the glory


The common bath house
Plaster castes of petrified bodies

Beautiful brickwork with volcanic pumice stone

More walls of volcanic rock
Intricate mosaic floor

The beautiful Stone Pine, common in the Mediterranean produces an edible pine nut and these trees are everywhere

The colosseum of Pompeii

Guide led tourist groups so plentiful they have to use color coded numbers to recognize tour leaders, yellow 6 anyone?

The fence is broken and beckoned us to hop over and enter the site for free

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