What a splendid day! No sudden thunderstorm drove us away from the magic of Pompeii this time. We set foot in the ancient city yesterday at 11 AM and left at 5:30 PM, exhausted and dusty but ecstatic. I cannot explain what happens to me when I visit Pompeii (yesterday was my second visit). The first time I was overwhelmed at how enormous it was. I had no idea! Back then, we spent several hours wandering around, and still only saw perhaps a third of it. This time, I was expecting the hugeness of Pompeii, but was still overwhelmed in part, with fatigue after walking for so many hours under the hot midday sun. I am consoled by the fact that so were the others â‚¬”Stefano (my husband), his aunt, a cousin and the cousin’s girlfriend.
First thing, we walked from Porta Marina (the most imposing of the seven city gates) to the Villa of the Mysteries (see photo of the red fresco known, I think, as the Great Frieze of the Dionysiac Mysteries). Extraordinary. Words simply fail me.
After spending some time at the Villa, we walked around a portion of the city walls up to Porta del Vesuvio. From there we strolled down Via del Vesuvio to the Teatro Grande, or Great Theatre, and rested a bit in the park above it, near Porta di Nocera. It was cool and wonderful there. We also braved the crowds of hot and tired (like us) tourists and visited some of the more famous houses â‚¬”the House of the Amorini Dorati, House of Pansa, House of Loreius Tibertinus, House of Venus in the Shell, etc. Spectacular. Unfortunately, the famous House of the Vettii was still being restored, so once again we were unable to see it.
We headed back toward Porta Marina on via dell’Abbondanza, which cuts through the city. This is a view of the Forum with Mount Vesuvius in the background. If you look closely enough, you will see two black dots. The dots are actually two big black dogs. There are dogs a bit everywhere in Pompeii. In fact, we came across a female dog sleeping peacefully on a cordoned-off mosaic floor inside one of the thermal baths, oblivious to the tourists walking around her. Here is a shot of the Thermal Baths…without the dog, though. The light filtering in from an opening in the ceiling made it all very surreal. Too bad there were so many tourists in there with us!
I will be posting a few more of our best shots in the days to come, just a tiny sample of the many photos we took. My recommendation: if you are planning a trip to Italy and have enough time, visit Pompeii and Herculaneum. My second visit to Pompeii only made me want to go back immediately!