Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast

We looked forward to visiting the famed city of Pompeii, suddenly buried by volcanic ash in 79 AD and pristinely preserved.  Unfortunately we had a little bit of a hard time in Pompeii.  It was incredible to see, but the shear size was a little astounding and everywhere we turned there were workers helping to preserve the site by telling us to not jump, sit, or even touch anything!  This became very difficult when kids with tired legs wanted to sit down, but the stone they wanted to sit on was not allowed.  So we zipped through, caught the main ideas and moved along.  

The stepping stones were placed at major intersections so people
could cross the streets even when they were being cleaned by flooding.

Wagon ruts that had been worn into the stone.

You could still make out drawings of people
flexing their muscles in the gymnasium.

It was incredible how they had made molds of people that were captured in the natural disaster of Pompei.  This was the position they were in when they were overtaken.  It was quite sobering.

Quite unexpectedly the bookshop was the highlight of our day in Pompeii.  The kids were so happy to have some english books to peruse they each read or looked through every children's book they had.

The Amalfi Coast was absolutely stunning.  There were a series of small villages built on the sides of mountains by the coast.  The road was horrific to get to and from towns, but it was amazing.  All of the citizens of these towns must really be used to walking up and down the mountain, because there are no level spots.  We hear it is beautiful in summer, but we were happy to swap a little chillier weather to miss the hoards of tourists.

This was our best "Stumble on Fun" experience so far.  It just turned out that while we were wandering through the Amalfi Coast on a day trip, we just happened to run into a Carnival celebration complete with huge bouncy houses, local vendors, and a great parade.  All of a sudden music was blaring and people were running around in costume and children were everywhere.  It was a ton of fun.

A little old man named Mario approached us on the street on his bicycle and told us to follow him to his restaurant where his wife, Maria, is the best Italian cook.  We took that as an opportunity, and had a wonderful lunch at Mario and Maria's place.  Everything was made from scratch and true to Italian form.  Yum!
Here are some samples of the floats that were in the parade.  We float had a lot of dancers and performers in front of them in full costume.  Some people had obviously put a lot of time into this celebration.  Even though the parade was only on one street and there were only 4 or 5 floats, it still took 2 hours for the parade to perform as they crawled through the street at a snails pace.

They sold bags of confetti everywhere and people would throw it around the Carnival at random.  It was a huge mess, but no one seemed to care, and our kids had a lot of fun with it.  They each got a bag of confetti, and it lasted about 2 minutes.  At first we thought the confetti was meant to be thrown at the parade participants, but after Max got a few nasty looks when he threw it right at some parade girls, we decided that was a bad idea, the glare surpasses language boundaries.

Eli didn't appreciate the blaring music coming from each float.

Just a quick glimpse looking back over the mountain road as we traveled along the Amalfi Coast.  The road has lots of hair pin turns and narrow areas, but the fact that they could even build a road on the side of the mountain was amazing.  These series of cities that exist on the Amalfi coast have been there for hundreds of years, and boat was the way they traveled to and fro until the road was built.

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