Next up is the incredibly interesting city of Pompeii. Situated just outside of Naples, it’s a bit of a trek from Amalfi but the journey is well worth it. Pompeii is a city that has intrigued me since my highschool best friends visited almost 10 years ago, and I’m glad I finally got to check it off of my ever growing bucket list.
It is possible to get to Pompeii from the Amalfi Coast via public transit, but logistically it’s a bit of a nightmare. I think we worked out that we’d have to take 2 trains and 2 buses and hope that they all arrived on schedule so we didn’t miss a beat. That being said, though I’m usually anti-tour (I hate being on someone else’s schedule. Maybe I’m a control freak. Maybe.) we did one for this leg of the trip and I think it was a wise choice. If you don’t do a full day tour, I definitely recommend hiring a guide simply to help you tour the ruins. Our guide was incredible – a serious wealth of knowledge. Per her job description, she taught us things we NEVER would have known on our own*, many things we would have completely missed**, which made the experience that much more enriching.
Having been completely destroyed by a volcanic eruption in the year 79 AD, and only recently discovered (and by “recently” I mean around 250 years ago), the entire Roman city had been almost perfectly preserved under layers upon layers of volcanic ash and pumice. Mosaic flooring perfectly intact, human bodies remain in the exact position they were in at the time of their death, entire buildings still standing… It’s pretty unbelievable to say the least. It gave us a very accurate insight into how people lived so long ago.
That afternoon, we headed out to climb Mout Vesuvius (the very volcano that destroyed Pompeii almost 2000 years ago). It’s still active, and is known as the most deadly volcano in all of Europe. It’s a quick but intense climb (around 30 minutes up a steep incline), but the views are well worth it. Plus? There’s a shop that serves beer and wine at the top (knowing this helped propel us during those last few minutes, I’m not going to lie). Drinking beer & wine on top of a volcano is kind of thrilling, if you ask me.
*As we walked through what was once the brothel, our guide pointed out faint fresco’s painted above the doorway leading into each room. We were told that each fresco was a representation of a different sexual position. Because many of the prostitutes at the time were slaves and, as a result, didn’t speak the native language, the fresco’s were used so that the men could point and communicate which, um, positions they preferred.
** There were penises carved into the ground throughout the town that would guide you to the location of the brothel. This way, men didn’t need to feel embarrassed while asking for directions. They literally simply had to follow the “signs”. Who knew!