It's only 5C and very chilly at the farmette this morning. A far cry from the 22-25C sunny weather we were enjoying just a week ago on the shore of the Tyrrhenian Sea - part of the Mediterranean - in Sorrento, Italy. (My geography was all messed up in the last post - sigh).
Our trip was fantastic - with only a few missteps and glitches. On balance, we had a totally satisfying adventure.
La Magnolia, the little hotel we booked on Airbnb, was centrally located about a half-block from Tasso Square, the main piazza. The room was clean, comfortable, and even had a skylight that we opened and closed by remote control. Our hosts were welcoming and very helpful and the cappuccinos every morning were a tasty treat. This was our 'base camp' for the duration.
Right next door was one of the many fresh fruit and vegetable stands that were scattered throughout the small city. This businessman thought he'd pose with the chili peppers when I put up my smartphone to take a snap of the colourful and scrumptious looking fare.
After an initial reconnaissance mission to orient ourselves in the city, a trip to Pompeii was first on the must-do list, and it did not disappoint.
The site is massive - more than 700 acres - so we had to pick and choose the areas we really wanted to visit. Still, we must have walked about 15 kilometres in half a day - roaming the streets where the Romans lived, loved and worked all those centuries ago.
What was amazing was seeing all the modern amenities - corner take-out restaurants and public fountains, sewers and two-story buildings have all been revealed thanks to the meticulous work of professional archeologists.
The Romans were the originals when it came to street food. The big pots that are sunk into outdoor counters contained hot sausages, fried fish and other tasty treats that the locals would pick up before the big gladiatorial games or after socializing with friends at the public baths.
We could almost hear the carts and the crowds as we wandered through neighbourhood after neighbourhood - the rutted stones under our feet giving us the feeling of a civilized society that had existed long before Vesuvius belched in 79 A.D. and obliterated everything in the vicinity.
The saddest part was seeing the plaster casts of the people who were going about their own business when the volcano erupted and instantly ended their lives. Here's a mule-driver who crouched on the street in terror. They found the remains of his mule close by.
Incredibly well-preserved statues - like this one of Bacchus - were also sprinkled throughout the site. Just think - these bronze statues were cast in the fifth or sixth century B.C.!?!?
Anyhow, I've gone on long enough for this post. The farmette is coated in a thick layer of leaves that dropped from our many maples while we were gone, and they are calling to me for raking. Stay tuned for part two next week!