Second day, March 30, Saturday, Pompeii – Naples

Where are we now?

I started Saturday with a 12 kilometer run . The day before, I bought a half-litre, strong energy drink. I didn’t sleep very well, but getting up was easier than I thought. I ran straight to the beach, then all the way to the west side of Naples, and then back. It was a great time.

After taking a shower, I packed and after a bit of scrambling I found the express train that goes to Pompeii in half an hour. Even though the season hasn’t started yet, there were already quite a few people. I would hate to be here in the summer heat:

I joined a guided tour, which also provided skip-the-line entry. The tour was more interesting than I expected, or maybe I’m just getting old to find it interesting.

The total area of Pompeii is almost one square kilometre; it can also be a full-day program. Only the areas VI-VII-VIII marked on the map are covered by the guided tour, but it still lasts for two hours.

We enter through the main gate called Ponta Marina, it got its name from the fact that the beach was here when it was built, almost two kilometres further inland than the present-day beach created due to volcanic activity.

Beyond the gate, we reach the Basilica via the main road Via Marina. The interesting thing about the road is that small pieces of white granite were placed between the dark lava stones: this was a substitute for public lighting, because they reflected the light of the torches and the moon, showing the road in a network.

The Basilica is one of the most important buildings in Pompeii, and it was not a church, as we might guess from its name, but it housed the city’s former court and was the center of its economic life.

The Foro di Pompei, i.e. the Forum, is a square 32 m wide and 142 m long, bordered on three sides by arcades. It was the political and religious center of the city.

There are sidewalks on the roads because, apart from the concept, the road itself is choked with sewage. The tracks left by old carts are visible on the roads, which are said to have defined today’s railway gauge. There was also a speed-bump and a crossing.

In the city, people found their way by the position of the wells: no two wells are alike, and they were mainly built at road intersections. The wires were made of lead, which slowly poisoned everyone…

We looked at a public bath, which has a cold and a hot water sink at both ends. The walls are approx. They are hollow 5-8 cm deep, because they were heated, and the water flowed back from the ceiling through vapor drain strips.

We also looked at residential buildings. The construction method of the buildings was extremely strict. They tried to place the doors of the rooms opening onto the atrium symmetrically, at the same distance from each other. The many doors symbolized the wealth of the owner of the house. Therefore, in many smaller buildings, false doors were often painted on the walls. The architectural elements and certain painting techniques were primarily used to decorate the interior of the house.

Opposite the entrance, furthest away, was the inner garden, with an altar and a marble table on which they could display everything they were proud of, because “accidentally” this table was visible through the main entrance.

Kitchens are modest, people mostly ate in “fast food restaurants”. They didn’t make a big fire at home, because the second floor of the apartments was always made of wood. Near the “quick-rooms” is the bakery, where the millstones that were driven around by animals remain, and the stone often crumbled into the bread, which was said to be so hard that it always had to be soaked in water or wine before eating. And in the back of the “fast food restaurants ” the illegal dice game went on.

There were also shops, of which there were nearly 600, because they also supplied the area around the city; the city also operated as a shopping center. The shops can be recognized by the gap carved into the entrance threshold: they had sliding doors.

The tour ended here. Among the ruins there is a modern café and washroom where you can take a break. After that, I watched the Great Theater, by which time a fairly serious sandstorm had developed.

Return by train in the same way, but more comfortably because there were fewer people. In Naples, I got on metro line 1, or rather only the second one, because the first one was 20 minutes late and I couldn’t get on it. I went to Vomero with it, which could not be missed just because it is the fantasy name of my running shoes.

I came down from the mountain, about 5-600 steps, to the old town, with a view of the whole city. Walking through the city, I made it back to yesterday’s famous pizzeria, where I made up for what I had missed.

I was already in bed at half past eight, quite tired.