More Napoli, Pompeii & Ciao, Italia

 Ciao, dear Friends and Family,

We've been walking for miles every day. Wandered into the Duomo one evening. It was beautiful and almost empty. Then a gathering of what turned out to be musicians, and a thrilling rehearsal.

They started with a beautifully sublime Italian carol, sung by a young tenor, then went on to Silent Night, and descended to White Christmas. We didn't like the direction they were heading and left before they (most likely) broke into Jingle Bells.

Almost didn't go to Pompeii. After Herculaneum, 2 days in the Archaeologic Museum, and hoofing it around Naples, we almost said to ourselves, been there, done that, but reason prevailed and on Sunday, the day before we were to leave, we again took the Circumvesuviana, this time to Pompeii.

Pompeiian Courtyard

Of course, once we got there, even though the weather was not as beautiful as it had been, we were glad we came. There were areas we saw which we had missed last trip, either because they had been closed off, or because we just missed them. It's a big place.

Era, enthralled. I admit, I love this stuff.

Pompeiian street with one of the many verboten areas screened off. More people than Herculaneum, but far less than during the blazing hot summer months.

One of the stray dogs, which we are warned not to feed. Many people ignore this advice.

Speaking of feeding, fried puffs with seaweed. Surprising and delicious in a little family-run ristorante right outside the House of Mysteries. The restaurant was otherwise nothing special.

Room from the House of Mysteries

Luigi Barrani's wonderful watercolor of Pompeii from 1902, which we saw at the Archaeology Museum in Naples.

The smaller amphitheatre

Dusk at Pompeii

As we were waiting for the train back to Napoli, we got an email from Doug Hall encouraging us to go to Oplontis for the best frescoes he and Diane had ever seen. Too late for us, but we pass on this information in the event that you are fortunate to go to the area. I think Oplontis is the stop before Pompeii if you are coming from Napoli.

We sat next to a French archaeologist on the plane from Napoli to Paris. She had just visited Pompeii, Herculaneum and, guess what, Oplontis. She was distressed at the state of the ancient Italian relics, and many people are worried about Italy in general. According to her, Berlusconi was a Mafia banker. The Mafia took over the running of Pompeii, Herculaneum and other sites and drained all the money, but did not take care of their preservation. Two different buildings have collapsed in Pompeii recently, one of them the House of the Gladiators. Very recently the government has taken over the administration from the Mafia, but the government is almost broke. She said that many sites are closed off now because of their bad condition and work being done on them. That is probably true, but it seems to me that areas are always closed off in any of these ancient sites. If you visit again, different areas are closed off. Still, it is a worry. The sites are so unique.

Frank Sear, a professor of Classical Studies at the U of Melbourne, bemoans the state of affairs in Pompeii. According to him the problems started as soon as the site was discovered; it was excavated too fast, without shoring up, drainage, protection from the elements. "The best that can be said of the whole sorry situation is that a third of the site is still buried. It should stay that way."

Arrived in Paris just before Christmas. Not soon enough for Don, but I love that unique and beautiful area of Southern Italy, including Napoli with all its wild craziness. It does help to have a nice, quiet hotel. Of course, I love Paris also, so no complaints here.

Love and Good Cheer!

Era and Don