Can we all agree that a major pull for any trip to Italy is the food? I feel like we can. After all, isn’t pizza a kind of universal language, a resolution to many troubles and a means through which heaven is sought?
Hence, naturally, it was a happy day when we touched down in the Italian city of Naples, the birthplace of pizza and a centre of deliciousness.
Since our arrival in Europe, I had been continuously reminding Daniel about the importance of waiting – for pizza that is. “Don’t get pizza in Holland.” I had said. “No, not yet; we’re in Spain.” I continually reprimanded. Maybe I was being unreasonable, but I just really wanted to save our pizza appetite for the real deal; oh, and I didn’t want to pizza overdose too soon!
So, when we finally headed for a pizzeria one evening in Naples we were rightly awash with excitement. Sitting at a small, streetside table, scooters whizzing down the road right beside us, we could hardly contain our anticipation. When would those large, hot, cheesy, flat circles of perfection be served? Though in due time, they came, and boy, oh boy, were they good. People say the best pizza comes from Naples; they are not wrong! It’s a reputation the city has earned.
Now, insomuch as it would have been possible, Daniel and I did not spend the duration of our time in Naples gorging ourselves on pizza. Actually, visiting the archaeological site of Pompeii was our main reason for heading to the region; Naples just happened to be a convenient (pizza) base for getting to the site.
We chose to catch a train from Naples to Pompeii which took roughly three-quarters of an hour; that’s forty-five minutes of breezy aircon with a chance for our sweaty shirts to dry off. Brilliant! Unfortunately, such dryness did not last long as we had to walk a further fifteen minutes to reach the entrance to the archaeological site.
In our usual, frugal fashion, we opted to have Rick Steves as our guide for Pompeii. His Audio Europe application is truly brilliant…though I think I’ve said this before. Anyway, moving on.
Entering Pompeii certainly is an unnerving experience; the ancient Roman city is only so well preserved because of its burial under metres of Mount Vesuvius’ volcanic ash which showered over the town and killed its inhabitants in 79AD. As we walked around the unimaginably old Pompeii, we found ourselves continually spooked by how such a thriving city could suddenly be stopped in its tracks by Mother Nature.
Pompeii was not comprehensively unearthed until 1748, meaning that the ancient city lay underground, protected, for close to seventeen centuries. Hard to fathom isn’t it? Yet, due to such a long resting period, Pompeii makes many a list for best-preserved ancient cities, alongside other awe-inspiring sites like Jerash in Jordan and Ephesus in Turkey.
As we visited Pompeii in July, the sun shared in our journey through the city walls. Not a cloud was in sight, and, unfortunately for us, neither was a patch of shade. Slipping inside the Roman bathhouses and the House of the Vetti, relief was evident on our faces as we were temporarily barricaded from Italy’s hot rays.
Sun-searings aside, the Pompeii Archeological Site was a mind-boggling place. To see an old, Roman port town – with its forum, villas, amphitheatre, basilica and more – was an enlightening experience and one that we won’t forget in a hurry.
Needless to say, we would recommend visiting Pompeii; become awestruck by its structures and feel the reality of the city’s lethal end as you gaze upon the still-present, yet crater-cut, Mount Vesuvius. Oh, and did I mention that in nearby Naples you’ll be able to taste an insanely good pizza? Something tells me I’m beginning to sound like a broken record…