Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pompei Scavi, Italy

Yesterday we ventured out on our own to Pompei Scavi.  The night before we watched the BBC documentary of what happened when Mt. Vesuvius blew.  It was interesting and I highly recommend it, especially if you decide to visit.  The train ride there was about an hour. We took the train from Pozzuoli to Naples central station (Naples, Garabaldi) there we caught the train to Pompei.
The tickets into the museum were 11 Euros each (no discount for children, unless you are from an EU country).
We really like the Steve Reeves' Italy tour guide (well my brother and his wife really like it and we agree, it was very helpful). He mentioned to buy the Pompei guide in the book store and take it along with you during your walking trip.
One of the houses with some steps.  Jason's stepping out of a little alcove.
Ampitheatre, the guide book said it was built in the Hellinistic style.  
 It's amazing how these cobblestone streets from so long ago are so well-preserved.  It reminded me of the streets in the older section of Naples, and we wondered if this area of Pompei would have looked similar to Naples today if a Volcano hadn't erupted and buried it.
 Mt. Vesuvius....doesn't look all that intimidating.  
 Picturesque well
 I finally let someone else have the camera...more cityscapes. Below, and you can't see was a gathering area for people during intermission, before and after the entertainment from the ampitheatre. In the last years of Pompei, it's where the gladiators bunked.

 A fountain.  There were some that were working fountains with modern spigots that people could use now.

 Beautifully done and preserved mosaic
 Another mosaic
 The people of Pompei would flood the streets in order to clean them.  They placed these stepping stones periodically through the town so that people could cross. One stone for small streets, two for the larger streets, three for the main thorough fairs.  There was enough clearance and room between the stones and streets ends in order for a chariot to pass.
 One of the bath houses.  There were forty bakeries and thirty brothels in Pompei. Just in case that's ever a question on Jeopardy you can answer it, otherwise not information anyone needs to know.
 One of the bakeries

 Me with Mt. Vesuvius in the back ground. This was the entrance to one of the Forums.
 The Forum. This was Jake's expression, before we decided to bribe give them financial incentive to have a better attitude. 10$ each if they didn't complain the rest of the trip and another 10$ each if they were enthusiastic and asked thoughtful questions.  

 I'm always amazed how nature will find away, here's a small bush growing out of a ruined column.
 Top of a column from the Temple of Venus.
 The Basilica is the courthouse next to the Forum.  Churches that we call Basilicas took their floor plan from structures such as these.  I love it when I learn something new.  
 This was from a vendor. This little hole would have fire in it and they would put food in the top to keep in warm.

 One of the entrances to Pompeii   At night they would close the bigger gate (archway) and only keep the smaller one open, to help protect its citizens.  The bay of Naples actually came very close to this area during the time of Pompeii.  The guide book said you could even see some of the rings where the boats would moor. I couldn't see them though.  I didn't look really hard either.

 Another temple, can't remember to whom?
 Look, he's smiling, our incentive program is working so far.
 Next to the ampitheatre, this is where people would gather and in the last years of Pompei, the gladiators bunked.
 Jason and I thought it was interesting that they built patterns within the brick. We wondered if this was a decoration or an actual directional sign.

 Another shot of the Basilica
 Isaac hanging out on one of the 'benches' over two thousand years're not going to find that in the States.  
 Temple to Hercules and Mt. Vesuvius
 One of the things they did to increase the safety and longevity of the structure is to put the stones in a diagonal pattern.

 Leaving Pompei and back in Pozzuoli where my brother, son and his wife live. They have the middle unit in this building.  The siblings and their families of the person who owns this unit live in the one above and below.  It's a very cultural phenomenon that families live is such close proximity to each other. 

Today it's the museum. It's raining so no hiking Mt. Vesuvius for us.  Tomorrow and Friday - Rome.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Naples, Italy - Capella Sansevero, Napoli Sotteranea

After 16 hours of flying and airport layovers we finally made it to Italy.  The plane rides weren't too bad, 4 plus hours to Boston, 6 to Ireland with individual T.V.s and on demand family friendly movies, then another 3 hours to Naples...with who knew what because by then the boys and I were incoherent and slept the entire way.  Jason who can fall asleep anywhere, slept during each plane ride.
 This is the view from the terrace of my brother and sister-in-law's apartment.  Beautiful.
 And here is what two jet-lagged children look like.  I pretty much visited with the family for a bit, took picture of the boys sleeping then crashed myself.

 Oh and here's my cute little nephew (I have a cute older nephew too and a couple cute nieces too but since we're here visiting, this cute nephew will be showcased a lot in the next few blog posts).
 Our first dinner out. We went to a little hotel where Jose and Gina first stayed while in Naples. Super friendly people who remembered Jose and Gina and welcomed all of us.  What the heck, we're in Europe, we let Jake try some wine...he wasn't a big fan.

 The next day we took the train into Naples. Jose and Gina live in a suburb of Naples, called Pozzouli, the neighborhoods are called a Parcos.  Almost all the neighborhoods surrounding Naples are gated.

 Naples itself, at least the older section is full of winding narrow cobblestone streets. The apartments in the buildings have Juliette balconies with laundry hanging from them and people sitting and watching their neighbors go by, sometimes stopping them for a chat.  I'm assuming it's a chat, who knows? they could be sure sounded like it with the wild hand gesturing and loud voices.  But there was always smiling and hugging...which is why I'm guessing these were friendly conversations.
 There were tons of shrines built into the buildings.  Some with pictures of the dead.  One had dolls encased in ceramic fire with Jesus on the cross above them. We weren't sure if this was one of Dante's Circle of Hell, or what was going on. But it was interesting.
 I have no idea why, but I took a lot of pictures of people's laundry.  It just seemed so picturesque.
 Some random church with some random statues.  That's the thing about Europe, there's a random church with random statues on almost every street corner.
 Can I just say I am so glad Jose and Gina knew where they were going because everyone of these little cobblestone picturesque streets started looking the same.
 My brother is such a good daddy :D Makes me all proud of him.
 Look, you can buy your own octopus to cook up later and eat....Actually I had some the night before and for such an ugly creature, they're not bad with some lemon.
 Gelato anyone?  It's so cute when the little nephew gets it all over his face, but when the ten year old does it...not so much.

We found this little museum that would have been easily missed because it blended in with the scenery of Naples. It was called Capella Sanservero.  A wealthy prince during the Renaissance became a patron of the arts and sciences.  The ceiling of the chapel had a beautiful fresco painted on it and there were some amazing statues carved from marble.  And way before "Body Works" the exhibit made of real cadavers made it's way across the U.S. This guy used some compounds to map and solidify the arteries and veins of a human being.
 Here was one of the statues and the museum's claim to fame. A marble statue of Jesus in his shroud. It's pretty neat how the marble has a translucent quality to it when you look at the draping across the face. You can even see the holes where Jesus was impaled to the cross and the spear where he was speared by the Roman guard. It was so detailed.
 The guy who put this all together was accused of being a heretic.  Glad to be living in the 21st century.

Then we went for lunch.  If my oldest asks for McDonalds one more time, I may have to beat him.
 Pub Pizza, I kid you not, a pizza with cheese, hot dogs and french fries.  Both Isaac and Jake loved it.

 I had the appetizer of prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella.  Wow is this stuff good! The whole low carb thing in Italy is not a bad way to go.

 My cute nephew again...why is it cute to see him all messy? Oh yeah, not my job to clean him up. Being the aunt is fun :D

After lunch, Gina, Max and I hung out, drank some coffee and watched some boys play soccer in a cobblestoned church courtyard.  No parks, no green space in the middle of this older section of Naples.  Kids will do what they need to to play.  While we did that, Jason, Jose, Jake and Isaac took an underground tour of Naples. This woman's apartment had an underground cellar that someone suspected had some archaeological significance. What they found was some Roman cisterns and an ampitheatre.

 One part of the tour you have to walk sideways and carry a candle.  Jake could walk forward because he's so skinny.  Not a great picture of my brother...but he's not a fan of tight places.

During WWII people used these as bomb shelters.

So far we've been having a great time.  Today it's raining and my brother is at work and my sister-in-law at Italian lessons.  Jake and Jason are napping, Isaac is playing video games and I am blogging...We're hoping it'll clear up soon and we can take in more sights.  The mouth of the underworld is supposed to be around here.  Which makes sense, since there so much volcanic activity I can imagine why people would have thought that.

More later.