After my (Kath’s) last update on 16th April we had a bit of a change of plan. It was just too frustrating to spend hours on the scenic routes, and we were both ending up tired and frazzled by the end of the day. As we do want to get to Sicily in time to see the Giro d’Italia stage up Mount Etna we decided to hop on the autostrade and make quicker progress, thus freeing up some time for sightseeing along the way. Apart from the extortionate tolls and one long traffic queue (still quicker than the endless speed bumps) this has worked well.
Half the day was spent driving down the autostrade. This section of motorway is an incredible feat of engineering – all tunnels, bridges and viaducts. We reached La Spezia where we found a conveniently sited campervan park not far from the town centre. We spent the afternoon cycling around the town and buying our train tickets for the following day’s trip to the Cinque Terre. Saw the cruise ship Oceana – which we’d also seen a few days earlier in (I think) St Tropez. It’s clearly following us around.
See previous post by Ignatius! Wonderful day exploring the Cinque Terre villages.
Another driving day, down to Montalto di Castro. We’d picked out a campsite and planned to arrive in good time to do some washing (oh the exciting life we lead! Sadly a long trip means a lot of laundry to be done every now and again). The campsite turned out to be one that I am sure is perfect in hot weather as it’s all under trees and very shady, but the weather here in Italy has turned decidedly chilly these last few days and we found it cold. Anyway, washing was done, Gertie once more helped out, and somehow it did manage to dry overnight.
On down the motorway to Pompeii. Pretty sure I spotted Oceana again at Civitavecchia. Pompeii was absolutely top of my list of places to visit, and although we will certainly be back in the Naples area later in the trip I insisted we spend a day here now to see it. We found a reasonably priced campsite right opposite the entrance to the ruins, run by a lovely young Italian-Ghanaian lad who’d spent 3 months in Cork and who commented on Gertie’s Munster stickers. Small world and all that. We arrived in time to do a supermarket shop, and check out details for our Pompeii visit.
What can I say – Pompeii is awesome! It’s huge – at one time 20,000 people lived here. At the time of Mt Vesuvius’s eruption in 79AD there were probably only around 2000 in the city as the rest had evacuated. The ruins were first discovered in the 1700s and excavations have been almost continuous since then, but there are still huge areas to be uncovered. I was blown away by the scale, the opulence of the houses, the amount of amazing detail still to be seen in the frescoes and murals. And the casts of the victims are incredibly moving. It’s hard to do it justice with just a few words and photos in a blog post. I suspect one day I may write a novel set in Pompeii… we’ll see!