Purple Palate Blog

Day 38 – Pompeii

Headed off from the Castle after an early breakfast. Change of plans for today. We were heading to Amalfi, but have just been informed that there is no parking available at our accommodation in Salerno, and that they are in a ZTL zone to boot. So we are doing Pompeii today instead, then ditching the car 2 days early, rather than paying parking.  I am devastated to be losing the car… No really, I am 😂.

Found a park, no mean feat, and headed into the ruins of Pompeii. Roz has been looking forward to this for the entire trip.

Walked in through the main gates, and were immediately impressed by the colour remaining on some of the frescos. These guys must have been seriously fit. This main road is properly steep.

Because the ruins were buried (therefore protected) from 79AD until they started excavating in the mid 17th century, and have been going for nearly 300 years now, the weirdest things survived. Street signs, statues, food vending stalls, and the most delicate of mosaics all survived. By far the most impressive structure standing was the baths. This was because the arched roof withstood the weight of the ash, where almost every other roof collapsed.

It was all fascinating, but a little hollow. We were expecting a more profound experience, after all, 2000 people died here. The problem is, almost every remnant of the actual humans who lived here has been erased. Again, the only place you got a real feeling of the people, and their lives, was in the baths, where they have excavated, and left insitu, a massage bench. This was the profound moment we were expecting throughout the site.

The entire site however is in the process of been rebuilt. There are builders, labourers, cement layers and fencing absolutely everywhere. Almost half the site was barricaded off, including the brothel with its horny frescoes and the Villa of the Mysteries. As a tourist site, it seems to be a victim of its own success. To make it withstand the hordes of visitors, they are having to reinforce what has been left, thus destroying the reason to visit.  The other strange thing they have done is put massive modern sculptures up everywhere. While they amazing pieces, they just don’t fit. For example, the gladiators training ring is now a garden full of huge bronze sculptures. 

Roz and I had a heated debate as to what the right direction for the future is.

The project they are undertaking, is to rebuild Pompeii into the city it once was, using as close to original techniques and materials as they can. I think this is awesome, in that it will give a fantastic insight into how the people really lived.  This is the reason I just don’t think the sculptures work.

Roz feels that what is left should be preserved and protected, but not restored.

I don’t know… It’s a tricky one.

Back in the car, and headed to Salerno at the gateway to the Amalfi Coast.

To summarise…

Insane drivers (even for Italy). Every single car had at least one dent, broken headlights, missing bumpers.

Graffiti everywhere.

Serious lack of toilets leading to an overwhelming odour de urine.

Lovely people (apart from the dick at our accommodation… You know who you are).

Only here for 36 hours, so will just spend the day on the Amalfi Coast tomorrow.

Burger King for dinner, with our bottle of Rossobastardo.

Ciao, Andrew.

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