City of the Living Dead
Our bags were lost, we witnessed a police take-down in the middle of an intersection, and we were ripped off by a taxi driver - all before we checked into our hotel. It was clear that we were going to be impressed by Naples. Really, we were there because we wanted to visit Pompeii, and because we were hanging out for a decent pizza. So, it was just a bonus that we had an excuse to buy new Italian clothes every morning.
The sight of Vesuvius dominates all the surrounding cities, and visiting Pompeii is a strong reminder of what this active volcano has done before. The ruins of this dead city are very well preserved, and what struck us was the extent of what's left - it's the size of (duh!) a city. Although some of the frescos and mosaics that were unearthed initially are in the Naples Museum, many impressive ones are still there to be found. It's a snapshot in time - even 1st century topical political graffiti is clearly visible.
It's not hard to imagine an original Pompeian popping up. Aside from them needing to be 2,000 years old, of course. But, it seems that anyone can be a local. While sitting in the old theatre, a visiting American tourist, initially reluctantly and then later unstoppably, provided the crowd with a credible rendition of O Sole Mio. Pompeii may be dead, but it still seems alive.
Naples, on the other hand, continued to disappoint. Despite the excellent pizza from street-vendors. Even the highlights of the Naples Museum could be seen in just a few minutes. In the end, we resorted to catching one of those daggy, red tourist buses around the place. It's clear that Naples' past was much grander than its present. Although, it's on some of the most gorgeous coastline anywhere.
- 9th July 2005