Pompeii and Vesuvius

We started the day headed toward Mount Vesuvius.  Google maps and the car GPS showed us two different routes.  I decided to follow the car GPS.  Bad decision that turned out relatively well. We followed the GPS to the entrance of the Parco Nazionale del Vesuvio. From there it seemed we were still in an urban area with a lot of houses on both sides of the road.  Finally, we eventually reached an area where the road was blocked and hikers were getting out of the their cars and headed up the closed road with their walking canes.

Since the girls were hungry we took a right turn to a restaurant/hotel.  It was 10:30 and we learned they were not open till 12:00.  We started up the road to Vesuvius and Ella was not up for the walk.  She was car sick and not feeling well.  To be fair on the way from the coast to the Parco we did many, many switchbacks that would make anyone queasy. Marcia and Ella stayed with the car while Sarah, Rachel and I headed up a closed road to the Vesuvius carter.

This image was shot when we were getting close to the summit.  It does not convey how steepness of  the trail or how we were in a tree canopy with little light.

When the road ended there was a trail that we assumed would take us to the crater.  Sarah took the lead on  the steep trail.  She powered up at a strong pace.  Eventually, Rachel took the point and was keeping the same pace. It was hard for her dad to keep up.  Once Rachel reached a point where there was a swarm of bugs, she decided it was her dad’s turn to lead.  We fell into a pattern of taking turn at the front.  We walked for at least an hour and half straight up.  About three quarters of the way up, we found a spot to sit.  Rachel commented, “Dad, you are glistening … You sparkle like a vampire.” To which Sarah said, “It is sweat, and you are sweating too.”  Rachel denied sweating.  Sarah disproved Rachel by trying to feel under her arm. Finally Rachel admitted to sweating a little.  Bottom line we had worked up a sweat.

One of the highlights of the hike up to the lava flow was seeing this cute creature.  We watched this European Hedgehog scamper along the trail for  maybe 30 meters.

The walk down was brutal.  We were tired, thirsty, and had to use different leg muscles to keep gravity from have its way.  The path was a mix of dirt, loose rocks and large random rocks.  I was afraid that one of the girls would twist an ankle or slip and hit hard.  The thought crossed my mind that I might do the same.  I worried about Marcia’s potential reaction.  I also worried whether  I had the strength to carry one of the kids if there was fall.

Sarah and Rachel looking at the lava flow, which at the time we thought might be the remains of the crater.
The lava flow.

Rachel, Sarah and I eventually made our way back to the restaurant parking lot where we left Marcia and Ella. The restaurant, Capriccio, was way off the beaten path, but quite nice.


The girls ordered pasta with marinara sauce.  I was confident that I order fish, but had no clue about which species of fish or how it would be prepared.  Based on the texture and a seeing a similar cut of fish at a grocery store, my best guess is that was swordfish.  Excellent unique flavor, very fresh, great presentation, and a welcome surprise.

When we finished lunch we fired up our trusty Renault Gran Scenic and retraced several switchbacks and wove our way through tight city streets.  About 45 minutes later, we arrived at Pompeii.  The challenge at Pompeii was finding the entry gate and a place to park.  After a second pass we found a pay parking lot.

We opted to get a guide.  Antonio is on the left.  Good decision, because Pompeii is massive.
The colosseum at Pompeii was built 80 BCE, actually predating the one in Rome. The one in Rome was built 70-80 AD.  An interesting fact shared by the guide was that in 1971 the Moody Blues recorded a concert in the Pompeii colosseum.

Link to the Youtube video of Pink Floyd playing at the Pompeii colosseum. Although the stadium had a capacity of 20,000, Pink Floyd played the venue without an audience.  They were seeking the acoustics with perhaps a bit of marketing/publicity.DSCN1949

Courtyard of a wealthy Romain.  Frescos behind the pillars.
Poppies in Pompeii
Narcissus, entranced by his reflection in the water, died of sorrow that he could not obtain the object of his desire.
Fresco adorning the wall of a courtyard.
We thought our car was packed