As soon as we knew we’d have the opportunity to visit Pompeii as the last excursion of our Disney cruise, Harriet and I were excited; No 1 Son visited a few years back with his dad, and came back full of stories of bodies perfectly preserved in volcanic ash, which of course was something Harriet had latched on to immediately. She wasn’t the only one – our guide, an actual archaeologist, seemed to know exactly what to say when you’re visiting Pompeii with kids; so there was lots of talk of ‘The Bodies.’ ‘Soon we will see The Bodies,’ and ‘this way to The Bodies,’ and so on.
But of course, Pompeii isn’t just about The Bodies; as he showed us, it’s also about understanding how people lived here, two thousand years ago, before Mount Vesuvius erupted. He encouraged us to guess which kind of stores we were looking at, and showed us bedrooms and gardens and the baths. It was absolutely fascinating. These photos don’t do it justice, because although it was warm and humid it was a cloudy day, but the bleakness seems to go with it, somehow.
I didn’t really like looking at the bodies, unlike Harriet and the other kids in our group, who were of course mesmerised, particularly by the poor slave, with a chain still round his neck, and the pregnant woman; in fact I found it very moving. But seeing the intricate carvings on ancient doorways, the tiles on floors, what was left of the mosaics, and trying to imagine how the people lived their lives, and how they must have felt when the volcano erupted, was incredible. Yet another extraordinary experience in a week that was full of them.
Outside the gates of Pompeii, a surprise. Not only the biggest lemons I’ve ever seen in my life – and some excellent limoncello tasting (that stuff goes to your head pretty quickly *cough*); but also, the best pizza I’ve ever had – wonderfully light base, fabulous tomatoey and basil flavour. Well of course, pizza was invented in Naples. Followed by the obligatory gelato 🙂