TBT - Italy | Mount Vesuvius & Pompeii
I think Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii were near the top of my most anticipated destinations on our trip to Italy. I’m sure it’s a destination on many peoples itinerary of Italy, but after years of looking at my Nonnie’s photos of the ruins, I was dying to see it in person.
Before we saw Pompeii though, there was Mount Vesuvius. We were driving across the country from Vieste towards Mount Vesuvius, and had to go through some rather rough parts of Ercolano and Ottaviano before we got to the mountain. Once we did arrive though, it was another treacherous drive up the mountain in our giant RV. Only this time, there were huge tour buses coming down the mountain towards us! If I thought the drive into and out of Vieste was bad, this was an entirely different story. I mentioned in my post on Vieste how small the roads in Italy are, but Here’s a better look so you can have some context:
Crazy how small they are right!? I guess they work for the generally smaller Italian cars, but definitely not for this RV!
Once we finally made our way to the parking lot mid way up the mountain, and breathed a sigh of relief, we had to get out and climb the rest of the way to the top. It’s a fairly steep hike, and actually took us a good while to get to the top.
The hike up was gorgeous though, and gave us an amazing view of the city below, as well as the clouds that we were literally walking through at some points!
Once we arrived at the top, I got really excited to see this volcano - I’ve never seen, or been so close to an actual volcano before in my life. It was definitely very beautiful. You could see different coloured layers in the rock, and it was all very jagged, which made for a very interesting texture. I was actually surprised for some reason, because you could see the bottom of the volcano. It wasn’t very deep and just appeared to be covered with gravel. I think part of me expected it to be kind of like a bottomless pit for some reason, but that is definitely not the case in realty. Still awe-inspiring to see, though.
Once we had gotten our fill of pictures, we began our hike back down the mountain, which was full of a couple slips for each of us. I was also determined to bring a piece of the mountain back home with me, so once I found a nice piece of grey rock, I very casually held it close to me so none of the employees would see that I had it. It now sits at home on top of my DIY Travel Keepsake Boxes. It’s actually a very porous, crumbly piece of rock that little pieces fall off of every time it gets moved.
At that point, we were fairly tired, so we decided to go find a campsite for the night and hit Pompeii early the next morning.
We were lucky enough to find a campsite that was within walking distance of the Pompeii ruins, so we just walked on over in the morning.
I was really looking forward to actually see Pompeii for myself, as opposed to just the photos that I grew up with. My Nonnie went back to the motherland when she was younger, and they traveled to Pompeii and took a bunch of photos that I would later look at nearly every time I went to her house.
From a very young age I was fascinated by these photos of people frozen in time, literally sitting to eat at their dinner tables or laying down sleeping. It was something that I had seen so much of as a child, that it was almost like deja vu when I saw the actual people with my own eyes. Most of the photos of my grandmothers would remain memories because the majority of the bodies had been moved to museums, but it was still very interesting to see the ones that they had.
It was super hot that day, so we made sure that we had adequate amounts of water, because the majority of the ruins are not shaded. I actually had not idea just how big they were until we received a map:
I believe we had started off near the bottom left corner of the ruins, and kind of made our way around, just exploring down random streets. There were certain parts of the ruins that had a good deal of people in them, but once you started to veer off towards the outskirts, the people definitely thinned out a lot and allowed us to take some pretty good photos.
Walking through all of these streets (that were very deeply cobbled and uneven), you could really tell that it had been a town and these were peoples homes. There were the remains of sinks and old ovens that could be seen, as well as frescoes on some of the walls. At one point, we came to an area that they were still excavating, and I think in that moment I wanted to be an archaeologist. It seemed like it would be such a fascinating job being able to dig up history from this site!
As we kept walking, we came upon a large street with what appeared to be locked storage cells. There were thousands of artifacts in these cells, and even some of the bodies! It was very chilling to be seeing them for the first time, especially since they are in familiar sleeping or sitting positions. There was one body that was crouched down and appeared to be praying, which definitely sent chills down my spine.
Even though we only got to see a small number of the bodies, I’m still very grateful that those pictures that I saw as a child were able to come to life for me.
By this point, we had been at the ruins for a few hours, and started to wrap up our tour by heading to see the Amphitheater. Fun fact: Pink Floyd played a show here in the 70’s.
Overall, we had a very interesting day in Pompeii. I couldn’t believe how large the town was, and how well preserved a lot of the architecture and frescoes were, considered it was once buried under tons of ash.
I definitely encourage you to put Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius on your list of Italian travel destinations! Or if you have been, let me know your thoughts 🙂
Look for my next Italy post in a couple weeks where we explore Florence!