July 28 2018
A great day being tourists. We had a light Italian breakfast which consisted of cappuccino, chocolate croissants, and a small piece of cake. It is no wonder the Italians are highly strung, espresso and sugar for breakfast!
On our way to pick-up the tourist bus we spotted this old Fiat.
I asked the owner, who was polishing the chrome, “How old was the Fiat” No English, I pointed to Ralf’s grey hair and asked again “Age of Fiat”. He laughed and said it was 60 years old, almost the same age as the grey haired man!
The bus left on time and we headed along the highway and then up a narrow, winding road to Mount Vesuvius.
There is a parking area where the buses wait for the tourists and then you walk the remaining 3 kms to the top of the crater. About one-third of the way up there is an English guide who gives you information on the volcano.
The last eruption was in 1944 with a lava flow that destroyed several buildings. However, due to the technology and the equipment that they now have, they believe that they will know (in time) when the next major eruption will happen.
They are expecting a major eruption, as it has been hundreds of years and they believe that the pressure is building inside the volcano. The yellowish area of the crater in this picture has been recorded at a temperature of 100 degrees centigrade, it is much hotter at the bottom of the crater.
I asked how many people were in the vicinity of Vesuvius – over 3 million people. Evacuation procedures are in place to evacuate the people closest to the eruption zone of 7 kms. I asked how many people that involved, the answer was 700,000 people. I don’t think that included the hundreds of tourists that are in this area every day. I was amazed how calm he was when he answered the question. 700,000 people to evacuate!!
I have never been to an “active” volcano before, it was very interesting. Although you couldn’t see any bubbling magma, there was an area that was puffing steam and you could smell the sulfur in that area.
We couldn’t see the coastline at all as there was a lot of cloud cover. On a clear day you can see the Amalfi coast and the Island of Capri. We really enjoyed the trip, although the walk to the top was very gravelly and I had to stop a couple of times to empty my shoes of the small stones.
After the visit to Vesuvius we were supposed to head to Herculaneum, but the bus bought us back to Pompeii.
We were the only ones on the bus that had booked the double sites. No problem, we got into a mini-van and were taken to Herculaneum and picked-up two hours later.
Herculaneum is the unsung hero of this area. There are less visitors to this archaeological site, which gives you more time to enjoy individual houses and areas of the site.
Although it was affected by small earthquakes before the 79AD volcano eruption of Vesuvius, it is not as well known as Pompei. However, the town was better preserved because it was covered with pyroclastic rock that solidified.
This led to the phenomenon of preserving the Town in its original state. Including two and three storey buildings, plants, fabrics, furniture and statues.
The digs began in 1738 using underground tunnels and ventilation shafts. In 1875 “open-air” digs were approved.
The archaeological digs are ongoing towards the shoreline. In 1982 approximately 300 skeletons were found near the shoreline. This was a much smaller Town than Pompei, approximately 20 hectares (50 acres). The population was about 4,000 to 5,000.
We listened to one tour guide who was telling her group about the wealthy merchants garden and the marble statues that were found. The hunting dogs show that the merchant was very wealthy. The merchant also had statues of the God of Wine (Bacchus), the third statue showed the God after having too much wine!
It was a very interesting visit. Thanks to my sister-in-law Diane who told us about Herculaneum. By the time we finished visiting Herculaneum and back in Pompeii it was really hot again.
Once again, we sat in the square and watched people, there is a drink that I have seen all around Italy, it is called Apeldore. I tried Apeldore with soda. It tastes a little like Pimms with lots of fruit and ice. We ate dinner at the same restaurant and it was good. Tomorrow is Pompei and then back to Rome on Monday.
We have to change our return flights, box the bikes and work out how we are going to get them to the airport. We have five days booked at the hostel in Rome.