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Sunday, 13 October 2013


Having read "Pompeii" by Robert Harris and seen a TV programme on the unearthing of the ruins of Herculaneum, we resolved to go and see Vesuvius, Pompeii and Herculaneum for ourselves. We joined an escorted lecture tour of the sites.
It was all arranged by a travel agent and we set off from Newcastle airport, changed at Gatwick and picked up the bus and the others at Naples Airport. They accommodated us in a hotel at Vico Equense for the week and we ventured out most days to see sites, views and ruins.
One day we drove down the Amalfi coast, through the pretty villages, scaring ourselves by looking out of the window at the steep drops and hairpin bends.
Viaducts abound
Hairpin road systems climb out of the deep valleys
If there isn't enough flat land at the edge for a road, a tunnel is made.
The villages have few roads and vehicles are confined to the upper areas,
Sadly there had been a landslide over the road a mile north of Amalfi and we had to climb up and over the hills to reach our destination. The weather was mostly good and the temperatures didn't drop below 20C, but there were thunderstorms and the deluge the night before had loosened the hillside. Nobody was hurt but a couple of vehicles were flattened.
On another day we travelled northwards towards Pozzuoli and therefore had to drive through Naples itself. It seems that everybody lives in a block of flats and that nobody ever gives the place a coat of paint. The washing hangs from the balconies and baskets are lowered to haul up the shopping.
small baskets can be seen beside the upper windows to the left of this block
highways criss-cross the airspace around and between the flats
The roads travel over the roofs and are enclosed in wire cages
Vesuvius is constantly in view
It's one of the most densely populated areas in Europe and people are packed into the available space.
So are the cars. Most of them display signs of contact with other vehicles and how this one got parked is a mystery. Scooters and three wheelers are common.
Our hotel was well sited and the small town of Vico Equense was a delightful spot away from all the hustle of the city. We had time to explore it and visit the pavement cafes and side streets full of shops. The terrace of the hotel had splendid views of Vesuvius
and walks down narrow lanes led to the beach
A long way down.
The whole tour was very interesting and a great way to see everything. It was all arranged and entry was pre-paid and guides full of enthusiasm and knowledge escorted us around each of the venues. Our fellow travellers were a great bunch of folk and the atmosphere was friendly and helpful. Mealtimes were like musical chairs and everyone sat just where they liked without fuss and large tables were popular.
If I didn't have to include Gatwick Airport in the equation I wouldn't hesitate to try another jaunt like it next year.
 There are hundreds of pics and I'll post a few more later in the week or tomorrow even.
Cheers Gillian


Lyn said...

Oh this is somewhere I have always wanted to visit. Lucky you, it looks fabulous!

Sue said...

Oh those roads would make me feel sick I think, I wouldnt even be able to drive on them. It sounds as though even with all the population it works well. Glad you had a lovely tour. My sister returned last week from London and Europe and absolutely loved it all.

carol said...

Gadabout! and - wow! Great photos.