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November 2019 to February 2020. Italy, Sicily and Sardinia.

3. Central Italy C. West Coast, Vesuvius, Herculanium and Pompeii.

1a. West Coast - Sabaudia.

After 5 busy days in Rome we needed a bit of R & R so headed south-west to the small town of Sabaudia near the West Coast. From the Camper stop we were able to walk across the bridge over the lagoon and down to the sea. The lagoon was always busy with canoeists and rowers.

The following days was beautiful with blue skies and no wind so we cycled north along the coast road between the sea and the lagoon.

We saw this herd of buffalo, which are used to produce buffalo mozzarella cheese.

The next day we cycled south, hoping to explore this tower but, sadly, it was fenced off.

After a lovely ride we found a restaurant that was open (all the others were shut) for a late lunch.

Late morning we walked into the town and bought a few things from a huge market - must have been around 100 stalls.


1b West Coast - Sant'Agostino

We stopped at a site across the road from the beach. There weren't any quiet roads for cycling so we went for some walks along the beach.

Sunset



On one of our walks we saw a group of boarders coming ashore.


Our first braai.


1d. West Coast - Itri

Heading south we visited the old hill town of Itri, a few kms inland. Very glad that our camper isn't large as some of the roads to get to the 'car park' were very narrow. We had a walk around the old town which had lots of steps and steep passageways - the residents must be fit as hardly any of the streets are accessible by car.


1e. West Coast - Montdragone.

We stopped at a 'proper' campsite for a change. In December there was only 1 other person there who kept his caravan there. He said that during the summer it is chock a block with delimited sites very close together.

More lovely empty beaches to walk along!


The camper places were next to the beach.


Some shells that I collected from our beach walks.


Giuseppe, who was staying in his caravan on the site, offered to take us to see a Roman harbour a bit further north. He had good English so was able to chat about the region and the history of the region.

Roman harbour - amazing that it is still complete after so many years.

We then followed a narrow coastal path to look at this old Roman villa.


2. Mount Vesuvius

When we arrived at the camper stop in Ercolano it was drizzling but when we got up the following morning the sky was blue and there was hardly a breath of wind - and we had our first sight of Mount Vesuvius. We decided that we must make the most of the weather and go to the top of the mountain today.


Mount Vesuvius from our site.


The campsite cat decided to visit us at breakfast time.


We didn't fancy driving up in the van along narrow twisty roads to the lower car park. Instead, having got some information from the camper stop owner yesterday, we walked to the train station at Ercolano where we were able to buy tickets for the bus and entrance - €10 each for the return bus ticket and €10 to visit the crater. The bus takes you to the top car park and from there it's about a 20 minute walk to the crater rim. From there we had magnificent views.

The view of Naples to the North-West of Vesuvius. We were so lucky to visit it on such a clear, sunny, windless day.

There's a path you can follow which goes about half way around the rim and then you return the same way. It was difficult to get decent photos of the crater itself.


Some steam on the right from a small fissure in the crater.


The crater is very deep.


Part of the path along the rim of the crater - not too busy at this time of the year.

The view of the Sorrentine Peninsula to the south of Vesuvius.

3 Herculaneum

Although we knew that a volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius (in 79 AD) had buried the Roman city of Pompeii under ash we hadn't realised that it had also destroyed the smaller seaside town of Herculaneum until we stayed in the area and did some research.

Herculaneum was destroyed later than Pompeii when a second eruption took place The cloud of toxic gases from the eruption wiped out the inhabitants, while the entire city was literally sealed under a flow of ash and volcanic rock 20 metres deep that solidified, preserving almost perfectly intact organic remains like fabric, food, vegetation and wooden structures as well as double storey buildings. Herculaneum is, in fact, better preserved than Pompeii and was discover by accident in the 18th century when a well was dug and artifacts were found. Only part of the town has been excavated as much of it still lies under the town of Ercolano.

As we walked down to the entrance we could look down onto the ruins.

The walls to the right show how much ash had to be removed to expose the remains.


When the eruption started some of the residents hid in the boat houses. 140 skeletons were discovered during excavations in the 1980s.


The boat houses in Herculaneum


Fiberglass reproductions of the skeletons found in one of the boat houses.


We spent a couple of hours wandering round the remains of the town. These are just a few of the photos that I took.


A well preserved statue

The staircase still intact.


This would have been a corner shop.

One of many mosaics.


A Roman boat which was discovered on the ancient shoreline is on display in one of the museums on the site. It was 9m long and had 3 pairs of row-locks.


Many other artefacts are house in the main museum. Most have been cleaned but a few have been left in the state in which they were found.


4. Pompeii

We spent a couple of night at a camper stop in Pompeii, which was within walking distance of the Roman city remains which are huge. We spent 6 hours wandering around and I took loads of photos.


The large theatre.

Part of a kitchen.

Gladiator barracks.

We saw lots of beautiful mosaic floors.

A city street with Vesuvius in the background.

Raised stones to get from one side of the street to the other.

A few houses have been restored.

 

1. Central Italy A. Pisa, Lucca, Florence and Sienna.

2. Central Italy B. Lake Trasimino, Numana, Rome.

3. Central Italy C. West Coast, Vesuvius, Herculanium and Pompeii.

4. Southern Italy. Matera, SE Coast, Gallipoli, South Coast.

5. Sicily. Sant' Alessio, Naxos, Mount Etna, Taormina, Siracusa, Ortigia and Piana Calzata.

6. Sardinia. Cagliari, SW region, Gira Plateau, Santu Antine and Alghero.

7. Spain. Travelling from Barcelona to Bilbao.

 

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The small theatre.

The remains of some charred bread.

The Forum.


This was at the entrance to a house.

Temple remains.

A large grindstone.

Several houses still had painting on the walls.

A cast of a body found in the ruins and lots of pots of various sizes.