You can’t just leave a set of ruins by the same route you entered them – you might miss something. Instead of revisiting the sites we saw on the way in, Kess and I began our return trip from the Villa of Mysteries by walking around the northern edge of the archeological site along the Passeggiata fuori le mura (the walk of the walls) in order to
re-enter the city through the Porta Vesuvio at the Castellum aquae, which was built to distribute water from the aqueduct to the city’s residents via the power of gravity.
Despite the fact they built two cities here on the side of a volcano (which I want to think occurred because they didn’t know what a volcano was, but unfortunately that isn’t the
case), the ancients were pretty smart. According to one of the many tour guides we eavesdropped on, the aqueduct was built under the construction of Augustus and brought water from a little place called Serino to Pompeii. The Castellum aquae was constructed to act as a water tower: it regulated pressure and water flow to the city below. Pretty Awesome!
Proving that times haven’t changed all that much, nearby the water tower stood a great example of graffiti left for us by an ancient left on the wall of some kind of bathroom which translates to “Defecator, may everything turn out okay so that you can leave this place”, which is quite hilarious when you think about the what was probably being
“turned out” by the reader……………………………………………………….>
From the graffiti and the water tower, we followed the roads back towards our entrance, but not without a stop at the Casa del Fauno, the House of the Faun. Just a quick walk form the Forum, the House of the Faun was named after a statue found in the house during its excavation. The residence is huge, covering an entire city block, and was complete with many
different areas including a store front, two peristyles, a private bath, and a set of gardens. Due to the ash that covered the home, one of Pompeii’s most famous works of art, the Alexander Mosaic, was preserved
within the residence, and a replica is now on display in the ruins. (The original was moved to the Naples Archeological Museum, more on that location later!) In addition to Alexander, the House of the Faun also displays a mosaic welcome mat and the dancing faun mosaic, but to see the rest of the house’s artwork, you need to travel into Naples to the Archeological Museum….
*Travel Tip* – Pay attention to the tour guides, even if you aren’t in their tour group. We had considered skipping the Archeological Museum because portions were under construction during our visit, but then we heard a guide tell his group they had finished early and there was no construction in the way of a visit!
As the sun sank lower in the sky, we began to head out of Pompeii. As we crossed the streets and gazed into each building, we knew we would be returning for another day in the ruins later during our trip – we simply hadn’t had enough time to see everything. One day wasn’t enough for Pompeii, but the lack of light and our grumbling bellies finally sent us back to the modern world.
Gelaterias dot the Italian roadside roughly every 35 steps of so (I’m exaggerating a bit). They are all delicious, but for two hungry wanderers the first one one saw might as well have been an oasis in the midst of a cobblestone desert. For those of you that think Gelaterias only sell Gelato, well, all I can say is have a look at the picture to the right. Many, if not all, offer gelato in conjunction with a selection of a full bar, sandwiches,
sweets, and espresso. I opted for espresso and gelato, which disappeared in about 2 seconds flat – wandering can build an appetite!
As the evening closed in on our first day, Kess and I retreated to the comfort of hotel garden and began to relax. Twilight faded into night, and the city came alive around us. The vendors on the street were replaced by lovers walking arm in arm, music poured from small clubs that had lain silent throughout the day, and we could hear traffic picking up as the rumble of tires on the cobblestones became much more frequent. Despite the rapid change in pace outside, the Hotel Forum provided a relaxing atmosphere
and peaceful music where we enjoyed a simple dinner. On the balcony outside our room, we watched the city move below us, noticed a replica of the Eiffel Tower and a small Midway that we needed to explore later, and were somewhat surprised to see fireworks pepper the skyline from somewhere on the inside of the ruins. Although we couldn’t see it in the dark, we knew Vesuvius was a mere 6 miles distant, beckoning us to climb its slopes in the morning. I went to sleep hoping that the mountain would continue its slumber.
I hope you are enjoying the posts on Italy as much as I am enjoying writing them! Please feel free to comment and let us know what you think of our trip so far, and check back soon for some mountain climbing adventure and yet another story concerning the crazy taxi driver in the upcoming Day Two: Climbing Vesuvius! post!