Naples (filthy), Pompeii (unique), Caserta (huge)
Trip Start May 04, 2011
110Trip End Ongoing
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My journey from Bari to Naples was up there with the worst of all time. Nothing bad happened to me, just annoyingly long. Going from Bari to Caserta (where I had to change trains) was fine, but then the train in Caserta was more than 2 hrs delayed – sitting in an old carriage in 35C heat, opposite the stinking toilet, wondering if the train is ever going to leave the station. I later learned that it was delayed because of strike action. I really don’t understand the point of striking, but this and other things are really putting me off travelling Europe while it is in recession. After an hr sitting on the train, I gave up and went to find some food. Luckily there was a pizza bar (with beer!) across the street so I didn’t have to cart my luggage far. Eventually I got to Naples. Stepping out onto the station piazza was like bedlam
So, anyway, Naples. Well, the streets are literally full of rubbish. It is utterly revolting. I first thought this was just how they live, but have since learned that it is another strike – this time it is the garbo’s not wanting to empty the rubbish bins. So, they simply fill up, overflow and spread across the side-walk. It smells, it’s dirty and it must spread disease and vermin. One morning, I even saw some piles that had been set on fire to get rid of the build up
I had 2 nights in Naples and on my full day I trained out to Pompeii (30 mins). I was excited to see Pompeii and my expectations were pretty high from my school yrs when u learn about it. But then I discovered it is a 66 Ha site and loads of walking. Overall, it was a little disappointing. I guess I had gone in with the expectation that most of the site had been left as it would’ve been back in the day (79 AD when Mt Vesuvius erupted). The audio guide was useful, but a lot of rooms were locked and gated, so I couldn’t go in. All the houses, businesses and rooms had been cleaned out, with all contents taken to museums around the world (New York, London, Paris). So, it was simply a lot of Roman brick buildings with not much set-up the way it would’ve been. It was fascinating though and the more that I toured the more I realised the unique value of Pompeii as the only place in the world that really shows how the Romans lived back in the Empire days. Brothels, Laundromats, shops, mansions, a bakery, amphitheatre, and the temples, basilica’s and official buildings. I was also surprised at how imposing and big Mt Vesuvius is. It really would’ve been terrifying on 24th August 79 when she erupted and covered the town in 6m of burning ash
Pompeii had the most amount of tourists (including school groups from the USA) I’ve ever encountered. And it was freakin hot – my Mykonos hat is coming in very handy, although I have turned over the part that says Mykonos!
Listening to the audio guide, a lot of the original mosaics and even entire wall paintings have been removed and relocated to the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, so I decided to head there after I finished at Pompeii (4 hrs).
The Lonely Planet guide had a "Worth the Visit" box under Naples that referred to a Royal Palace in Caserta (40 odd minutes away) that rivalled the Palace of Versailles outside Paris
The gardens are definitely not as amazing as Versailles, but it is big - 3 km from the palace to the man-made waterfall at the end. Yes, I walked the entire length. In the heat. Jealous of those with bikes. But, getting to the end and looking back made the achievement feel that much sweeter. The fountains and waterfall really are spectacular, especially considering they were constructed 200+ yrs ago (I saw 3 wedding photo shoots happening; also a school group with a teacher screaming Italian orders down a mega-phone!). There was a free shuttle bus running the length of the gardens, so there was no way in hell that I was going to walk the 3 km’s back to the Palace. I’ve never felt so happy to be crammed into a bus like sardines during that short trip back.
I made it back to Naples in good time to collect my bags from the hotel and jump on the train to Sorrento for my hopefully relaxing 3 nights on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. I’m getting sick of trains, ferries and carting my luggage, so it will be good to have these few days before returning to Ghana.