If you ever have cause to complain about GWR come and have a ride on the Circumvesuviana. This train runs from Sorrento to Naples calling at a number of top tourist places on the way such as Pompeii. Given that this is a top shop window for tourists you would perhaps expect this to show off what the best Italian transport has to offer.
Nope. The trains are old, tatty, covered in graffiti, have no air conditioning and the seats are plastic and as hard as the ones you sat on in school. They are also very busy full of tourists wanting to get to the attractions. The one thing the Circumvesuviana does have going for it is that it is very cheap – a half an hour journey to Pompeii costs about €6 return.
Anyway, it was onto the Circumvesuviana that we boarded this morning to get to Pompeii. Nothing that you know about the site can quite prepare you for it when you actually set foot in it. For a start it covers a huge area and much of it is very well preserved with walls that are complete allowing you to really understand what it must have looked like in its heyday.
Strangely the large number of people wandering the streets, which I normally don’t like, does give you a good idea of what Pompeii must have been like with all those Romans rushing about their daily business in their togas!
There is also a great variety of type of places to visit from small shops and dwellings to large houses with ornate mosaics, beautiful frescos on the walls and pretty gardens. There is also an amphitheater (where there was an interesting exhibition of the Pink Floyd gig held there) along with a couple of smaller theatres. The site vaguely reminded me of our trip to Ostia Antica the old port town of ancient Rome.
We spent several hours wandering the hot streets taking in the atmosphere all in the shadow of Vesuvius which got me thinking about the modern houses built both here in Pompeii and the surrounding areas. Just how safe are they? I guess that these days they would get more warning but if your possessions and livelihood are buried under six metres of volcanic ash, as was the case in AD 79, that’s probably still going to ruin your day.
Tomorrow is a rest day!