Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

Vesuvius & Pompeii

Ancient Pompeii

I first learned of Pompeii in a Natural Disasters class back in high school. It was morbidly fascinating and has always been a place of interest in my mind. So actually going there was one of those ‘woah, I can’t believe that we’re actually here’ experiences.

For those in need of a refresher, here’s a very quick one (please do not rely on this for accuracy as it comes from my totally unreliable memory). Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. Two neighbouring cities were affected: Herculaneum and Pompeii. The people of Herculaneum felt precursors and were able to escape to the sea. When the volcano erupted, Herculaneum was suffocated by the smoke of the volcano, instantly petrifying and preserving the city. The people of Pompeii had no escape and they were taken by surprise by a massive, fast-moving ash flow which completely covered the city, and the people. Both cities have been frozen in time and both deserve visiting. However, for the sake of our budget and for our long-term travel plans we made the tough decision to visit just one. And so we chose to see Pompeii.


Giovanni’s Home, Naples


We spent four nights in Naples, and I need to write about the place we stayed. The hostel was called Giovanni’s Home, quite literally because that’s what it was. It’s a dorm-style hostel with bunkbeds. It has a well equipped kitchen, although it’s really small. None of the toilets have toilet seats. The showers have hardly any water pressure and very little hot water. It’s on the third floor in a building on a small street, with a staircase that’s steep and tiring no matter how many times you go up it. And it was the most enjoyble, most fun hostel that we’ve stayed in yet.


Roaming Rome

Roman Forum

We arrived in Rome in the rain and in the dark, but managed to find our way to the Gladios B&B, where we’d gotten a deal and were spending four nights for the price of three. The B&B had a pretty useless little kitchen, and breakfast consisted primarily of cookies and jam. However, we did have a quite large private room with a double bed and our own ensuite washroom, so we were happy. We settled into our room and dried off before heading out for a pizza and a glass of wine. It started to sink in slowly — we were in Rome, the city to which all roads lead, the empire that wasn’t built in a day, the place where one should do as the Romans do.


Five beautiful villages

Manarola at sunset

Our first stop in Italy was on the northwest coast — we spent two nights in Manarola, one of the five villages of the Cinque Terre. Once again the weather was fantastic, and on the day we hiked the trail connecting the five villages it was sunny and hot. The hiking was very different from the trails we had just been on in the Swiss Alps. Instead of having to pack our bags with lunch and extra clothing, we grabbed the camera and a water bottle and set out knowing that there would be villages full of pizza and focaccia breads and gelato along the way.