Thursday, 17 June 2010

Time out for a History Lesson at Pompeii ... June 2010

13-16 June 2010

***An array of items unearthed in the ruins, with a sad reminder of the many lives that were lost***Beautiful outdoor garden and coutyard area with a colourful fresco***More plaster cast shapes of the unlucky who did not manage to escape, notice again more coloured frescoes in the background***The guilty party - Mt Vesuvius overlooking the site of Pompeii*** 

As we made our final approach into the harbour at Agropoli we could tell it was late Sunday afternoon, every man and his boat were heading for the marina! We were tying up on the free town quay, just inside the harbour entrance. This was a stern-to wall, so we had to back in across the harbour entrance, dropping anchor, laying chain and fitting into the designated spot while run-abouts and launches whizzed around us at speed. Skipper, as always, kept his cool and without too much drama we attached ourselves to land once more.

Agropoli is another town off the tourist track, a low key pleasant place with a wide pedestrian main street, tiny walled old town perched high above the sea then topped with a fort commanding a view for miles up and down the coast. We had a three nights here, so took the opportunity to watch some more World Cup Football and take some time out for our next "ruins" excursion.

Although still some distance from Pompeiithere were reasonable train connections so we headed north towards the foothills of yet another steaming volcano, Vesuvius and to the ruins at Pompeii. We must be honest and say that we find it a little hard these days to get excited about ruins - we have seen many a ruin, in many a country - but all credit to Pompeii, we thought it was brilliant. Rated as Italy's most visited tourist attraction with over 2.5million visitors a year we were dreading the crowds but because the site is so huge (44 hectares excavated) it didn't appear busy at all.

Pompeii has a tragic history, first seriously damaged by earthquake in AD63, repairs and rebuilding were still in progress when in AD79 Vesuvius blew its top, killing around 2,000 inhabitants and burying the town almost intact under a layer of burning pumice stone. 

The site has been undergoing excavation since 1748, unfortunately several of the best finds have been removed to palaces and museums but the overall layout of the town, along with the streets, houses, baths, gardens, theatres and recreational areas are all in place and it is easy to imagine what it may have been like nearly 2000 years ago. There are complete storage urns, utensils, tools, well preserved wall frescoes, orchards, vineyards - just everything they needed for their life back then. It really was worth the visit and we spent a few hours slowly making our way through the streets and houses.

There is a huge covered area displaying all the implements, pots, urns etc that have been unearthed and there are several plaster body casts, made by pouring plaster into the hollows discovered left by disintegrated bodies. Sadly the horror that these people endured during their last minutes is evident.
We caught the train back to Salerno, then changed trains and arrived back in Agropoli just in time to join the locals in the main square, cooled off with a drink or two, nibbled on more pizza and watched another game of football, not a bad way to end a long day.

We managed to stay 3 nights on the 2 nights for free dock, we were doing well in Italy but didn't want to push our luck so with a forecast of 10 knots we left and set sail across the Golfo di Salerno the 25 miles to Amalfi

Cruising info for Agropoli:-
Town Quay:- come in around the breakwater and its right on the right hand side. Not where the green artifical grass is (charter company) but next to it. Room for about 4-5 yachts. Drop anchor and stern or bow tie to concrete wall. No one came around our first night so we weren't told till late the next day that we then had 2 nights free. The Marina berths are around 70E in June.
Communications:- TIM and Vodafone phones working, WIND dongle working
Provisions:- Walk all the way around the harbour and up the hill to the main pedestrian street. Good supermarket right at top straight ahead. Several fruit shops and a bakery nearby too.
Fuel:- Fuel dock in harbour but we jerry jugged, easy enough with trolley. 1.32E per litre
ATM:- A couple up on the main street
Formalities:- Still none in Italy
Sightseeing:- Allow around 35/40 minutes to get to train station and purchase tickets. We caught the 11.06 train, change at Salerno. Double check platform number in Salerno for Pompeii train, there are two separate platforms (a little further north and towards the sea but same station) that some of the Pompeii trains leave from. Instead of 15 minutes wait we had one hour and 15 minutes!!! Coming back there is 1753, 1805, 1908 ex Pompeii. About 10 minutes walk to ruins, head towards big clock tower looking monument opposite train station, then turn left to ruins. 
Trains - 9E each return (validate ticket on platform in machine before boarding) 
Entry to Pompeii - 11E each included very good guide book in English

No comments: