Italian Inspiration – Part 2

HerculaneumChristina here with Part 2 of my Italian adventures.

Having visited Pompeii, of course I also had to go to Herculaneum. It’s a nearby town that was destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD at the same time as Pompeii, and I’d been told that most people nowadays find it more impressive. This is because it is much better preserved, with a lot of the upper storeys of the houses still intact, and the paintings on the walls in situ. I’m afraid I have to disagree though.

H streetDon’t get me wrong – I loved Herculaneum too, it's a fabulous place! Walking around its narrow streets in the Italian sunshine made me feel as though I had travelled back in time 2000 years. The houses were beautiful and gave me a lot more details for the story I’m planning, and I can see why people would prefer it to Pompeii. But to me, the latter was more poignant because it’s so big and the scale of the tragedy that occurred there just hit me in the gut. I can’t explain it, but that’s how I felt.

CavesHerculaneum is much smaller – at least the part that has been excavated so far – and it lies deep beneath current street level. That means you can look down on it from above when approaching along a walkway that leads to the entrance. Visitors go down a long ramp and enter the town via a gate near what was the seashore in ancient times. Next to this gate is the most moving of all parts of the site – small buildings fronted by arches, situated in the lower part of the city, where hundreds of people tried to take refuge from the eruption. They died and some of the skeletons are still there – you can glimpse them as you walk towards the gate. It makes you pause and reflect on the tragedy.

ColumnThe rest of the town doesn’t feel sad at all – rather it’s a vibrant place full of colour. Even some of the ancient columns still have red paint on them, and there are houses with painted ceilings and beautifully decorated walls. The streets are narrower than those of Pompeii, giving it a more intimate feel, and I wondered how crowded it must have been back then. Probably a lot less salubrious as well, as there were no drains. In Pompeii, we were told that the streets were all built on a slope and that rainwater would wash away all detritus from time to time. In between it probably stank. I very much enjoyed walking around now though, with a fresh breeze blowing and the hot sun on my face.

MosaicThere were some incredible mosaics, like this one that included fishes, an octopus and a squid. The mosaicists must have been very skilled indeed, and later in a museum I saw some mosaics that were made up of the tiniest little tesserae. It must have taken absolute ages to create but the results were stunning. I found it fascinating that they tried to vary the materials used as well – some of them incorporated all different types of marble for example, so even the simplest of patterns would look beautiful.

BathsIn Herculaneum the public baths are much better preserved with the changing rooms more or less intact. Here it was possible to see the benches the bathers would have sat on to take their shoes and clothes off, and the little cubicles where they left their belongings. I could just imagine the hot, steamy atmosphere in there as they headed for the various baths – hot and cold – and the exercise area outside.

Folding doorsIt was wonderful to see the incredible preservation in some of the buildings. One of them even had folding doors (leading to the peristyle garden) still intact. And there were lots of roofs and upper floors, including staircases made of both stone and wood. Most of the luxury homes had stone benches outside. These were for visitors who had to wait their turn to have an “audience” with whatever rich man lived inside. Apparently they would queue up for this in the mornings. Now they came in handy for us to rest our weary feet!

SorrentoIt's impossible to go to the Bay of Naples and not want to visit Sorrento, so we had decided to spend a couple of nights there. Naples is a rather run-down, messy and chaotic place, mostly full of faded grandeur that made me a little sad as I’m sure it was very beautiful once upon a time. Sorrento, on the other hand, was vibrant and much tidier. I totally fell in love with that little town – so beautiful! It is situated high up on a cliff, and it’s possible to walk down to the sea shore. Again this meant very steep hills so my legs got another workout.

Sorrento streetI was wishing I'd brought a swimming costume as the sea looked very inviting and turquoise blue, but it was probably still a bit on the cold side. (The sun was quite fierce and warm when you were in it but as soon as you stood in the shade the air was chilly). I loved all the little lanes in the centre of town with shops, restaurants and gelaterias – of course we had to try the ice cream, which was indeed delicious! It would be the perfect place for a summer holiday and I’d love to return sometime.

Naples Old TownOn our final day we were back in Naples, where we explored the Old Town – again, rather run-down but extremely charming. We also visited the archaeological museum where they keep a lot of the objects found in Pompeii and Herculaneum. There was almost too much to see – so many frescoes, statues and mosaics, as well as a special exhibition about gladiators. One could say I had Roman overload. But I bought some books and took loads of photos so I can digest it all in my own time.

Now it all feels like a dream, but I'm so pleased and grateful that I got to experience all this. It really was a dream come true.

What dreams of yours have come true over the years? Do tell!

80 thoughts on “Italian Inspiration – Part 2”

  1. I had always wanted to see the ancient city of Petra, and when I did, it was even more impressive than I expected. You approach it through a narrow canyon, and so as you come around the bend and get your first glimpse of the Treasury, it really takes your breath away.

    Reply
  2. I had always wanted to see the ancient city of Petra, and when I did, it was even more impressive than I expected. You approach it through a narrow canyon, and so as you come around the bend and get your first glimpse of the Treasury, it really takes your breath away.

    Reply
  3. I had always wanted to see the ancient city of Petra, and when I did, it was even more impressive than I expected. You approach it through a narrow canyon, and so as you come around the bend and get your first glimpse of the Treasury, it really takes your breath away.

    Reply
  4. I had always wanted to see the ancient city of Petra, and when I did, it was even more impressive than I expected. You approach it through a narrow canyon, and so as you come around the bend and get your first glimpse of the Treasury, it really takes your breath away.

    Reply
  5. I had always wanted to see the ancient city of Petra, and when I did, it was even more impressive than I expected. You approach it through a narrow canyon, and so as you come around the bend and get your first glimpse of the Treasury, it really takes your breath away.

    Reply
  6. Oh yes, I would love to go there, Karin! You get a sense of how amazing it is from the last Indiana Jones film when they come through that canyon to find the (pretend) Holy Grail. It looks like an amazing place – you’re so lucky to have been!

    Reply
  7. Oh yes, I would love to go there, Karin! You get a sense of how amazing it is from the last Indiana Jones film when they come through that canyon to find the (pretend) Holy Grail. It looks like an amazing place – you’re so lucky to have been!

    Reply
  8. Oh yes, I would love to go there, Karin! You get a sense of how amazing it is from the last Indiana Jones film when they come through that canyon to find the (pretend) Holy Grail. It looks like an amazing place – you’re so lucky to have been!

    Reply
  9. Oh yes, I would love to go there, Karin! You get a sense of how amazing it is from the last Indiana Jones film when they come through that canyon to find the (pretend) Holy Grail. It looks like an amazing place – you’re so lucky to have been!

    Reply
  10. Oh yes, I would love to go there, Karin! You get a sense of how amazing it is from the last Indiana Jones film when they come through that canyon to find the (pretend) Holy Grail. It looks like an amazing place – you’re so lucky to have been!

    Reply
  11. I’m another who would LOVE to visit Petra: “a rose gold city half as old as time.” But Christina, your descriptions of Herculaneum and Sorrento are utterly delicious. *G* Many thanks!

    Reply
  12. I’m another who would LOVE to visit Petra: “a rose gold city half as old as time.” But Christina, your descriptions of Herculaneum and Sorrento are utterly delicious. *G* Many thanks!

    Reply
  13. I’m another who would LOVE to visit Petra: “a rose gold city half as old as time.” But Christina, your descriptions of Herculaneum and Sorrento are utterly delicious. *G* Many thanks!

    Reply
  14. I’m another who would LOVE to visit Petra: “a rose gold city half as old as time.” But Christina, your descriptions of Herculaneum and Sorrento are utterly delicious. *G* Many thanks!

    Reply
  15. I’m another who would LOVE to visit Petra: “a rose gold city half as old as time.” But Christina, your descriptions of Herculaneum and Sorrento are utterly delicious. *G* Many thanks!

    Reply
  16. I want to thank you for the wonderful post, all the pictures and most of all for sharing your enjoyment with us.
    Hope everyone is well.

    Reply
  17. I want to thank you for the wonderful post, all the pictures and most of all for sharing your enjoyment with us.
    Hope everyone is well.

    Reply
  18. I want to thank you for the wonderful post, all the pictures and most of all for sharing your enjoyment with us.
    Hope everyone is well.

    Reply
  19. I want to thank you for the wonderful post, all the pictures and most of all for sharing your enjoyment with us.
    Hope everyone is well.

    Reply
  20. I want to thank you for the wonderful post, all the pictures and most of all for sharing your enjoyment with us.
    Hope everyone is well.

    Reply
  21. Visiting Pompeii was a dream for me, too. We spent only one day there, though, and I got very sore feet! We didn’t have time to see Herculaneum, alas. We stayed in Naples in a lovely apartment, but I think next time (if there is one) we may try Sorrento — it sounds fabulous!
    Other dreams of mine were visiting sites in Mary Stewart’s novels — the Isle of Skye and the south of France (esp. the Pont du Gard) in particular. I’ve achieved those too — such fun. Thanks for a lovely post!

    Reply
  22. Visiting Pompeii was a dream for me, too. We spent only one day there, though, and I got very sore feet! We didn’t have time to see Herculaneum, alas. We stayed in Naples in a lovely apartment, but I think next time (if there is one) we may try Sorrento — it sounds fabulous!
    Other dreams of mine were visiting sites in Mary Stewart’s novels — the Isle of Skye and the south of France (esp. the Pont du Gard) in particular. I’ve achieved those too — such fun. Thanks for a lovely post!

    Reply
  23. Visiting Pompeii was a dream for me, too. We spent only one day there, though, and I got very sore feet! We didn’t have time to see Herculaneum, alas. We stayed in Naples in a lovely apartment, but I think next time (if there is one) we may try Sorrento — it sounds fabulous!
    Other dreams of mine were visiting sites in Mary Stewart’s novels — the Isle of Skye and the south of France (esp. the Pont du Gard) in particular. I’ve achieved those too — such fun. Thanks for a lovely post!

    Reply
  24. Visiting Pompeii was a dream for me, too. We spent only one day there, though, and I got very sore feet! We didn’t have time to see Herculaneum, alas. We stayed in Naples in a lovely apartment, but I think next time (if there is one) we may try Sorrento — it sounds fabulous!
    Other dreams of mine were visiting sites in Mary Stewart’s novels — the Isle of Skye and the south of France (esp. the Pont du Gard) in particular. I’ve achieved those too — such fun. Thanks for a lovely post!

    Reply
  25. Visiting Pompeii was a dream for me, too. We spent only one day there, though, and I got very sore feet! We didn’t have time to see Herculaneum, alas. We stayed in Naples in a lovely apartment, but I think next time (if there is one) we may try Sorrento — it sounds fabulous!
    Other dreams of mine were visiting sites in Mary Stewart’s novels — the Isle of Skye and the south of France (esp. the Pont du Gard) in particular. I’ve achieved those too — such fun. Thanks for a lovely post!

    Reply
  26. Thank you and I would definitely recommend Sorrento, Barbara! It’s a beautiful place. I’d love to visit the Isle of Skye too, it always looks so beautiful in photos. I’ll have to try and visit.

    Reply
  27. Thank you and I would definitely recommend Sorrento, Barbara! It’s a beautiful place. I’d love to visit the Isle of Skye too, it always looks so beautiful in photos. I’ll have to try and visit.

    Reply
  28. Thank you and I would definitely recommend Sorrento, Barbara! It’s a beautiful place. I’d love to visit the Isle of Skye too, it always looks so beautiful in photos. I’ll have to try and visit.

    Reply
  29. Thank you and I would definitely recommend Sorrento, Barbara! It’s a beautiful place. I’d love to visit the Isle of Skye too, it always looks so beautiful in photos. I’ll have to try and visit.

    Reply
  30. Thank you and I would definitely recommend Sorrento, Barbara! It’s a beautiful place. I’d love to visit the Isle of Skye too, it always looks so beautiful in photos. I’ll have to try and visit.

    Reply
  31. I’m not one for travel and I think my dreams are a bit low key. I always wanted to see Jane Austen’s grave but never thought I would. Then courtesy of my lovely daughter in 2016 she paid for and arranged for me to travel over to Bath for a weekend and attend a Regency ball. On the way back to the airport we went by Winchester and I got my wish. It felt absolutely wonderful and it was a weekend I’ll never forget.
    Looks like you had a wonderful holiday Christina.

    Reply
  32. I’m not one for travel and I think my dreams are a bit low key. I always wanted to see Jane Austen’s grave but never thought I would. Then courtesy of my lovely daughter in 2016 she paid for and arranged for me to travel over to Bath for a weekend and attend a Regency ball. On the way back to the airport we went by Winchester and I got my wish. It felt absolutely wonderful and it was a weekend I’ll never forget.
    Looks like you had a wonderful holiday Christina.

    Reply
  33. I’m not one for travel and I think my dreams are a bit low key. I always wanted to see Jane Austen’s grave but never thought I would. Then courtesy of my lovely daughter in 2016 she paid for and arranged for me to travel over to Bath for a weekend and attend a Regency ball. On the way back to the airport we went by Winchester and I got my wish. It felt absolutely wonderful and it was a weekend I’ll never forget.
    Looks like you had a wonderful holiday Christina.

    Reply
  34. I’m not one for travel and I think my dreams are a bit low key. I always wanted to see Jane Austen’s grave but never thought I would. Then courtesy of my lovely daughter in 2016 she paid for and arranged for me to travel over to Bath for a weekend and attend a Regency ball. On the way back to the airport we went by Winchester and I got my wish. It felt absolutely wonderful and it was a weekend I’ll never forget.
    Looks like you had a wonderful holiday Christina.

    Reply
  35. I’m not one for travel and I think my dreams are a bit low key. I always wanted to see Jane Austen’s grave but never thought I would. Then courtesy of my lovely daughter in 2016 she paid for and arranged for me to travel over to Bath for a weekend and attend a Regency ball. On the way back to the airport we went by Winchester and I got my wish. It felt absolutely wonderful and it was a weekend I’ll never forget.
    Looks like you had a wonderful holiday Christina.

    Reply
  36. Thank you for sharing your travels with us, Christina! I enjoyed the trip. (Now if you could only share some gelato with us….)

    Reply
  37. Thank you for sharing your travels with us, Christina! I enjoyed the trip. (Now if you could only share some gelato with us….)

    Reply
  38. Thank you for sharing your travels with us, Christina! I enjoyed the trip. (Now if you could only share some gelato with us….)

    Reply
  39. Thank you for sharing your travels with us, Christina! I enjoyed the trip. (Now if you could only share some gelato with us….)

    Reply
  40. Thank you for sharing your travels with us, Christina! I enjoyed the trip. (Now if you could only share some gelato with us….)

    Reply
  41. That sounds amazing Teresa! I’d love to attend a Regency ball. And great that you got to see that grave too!

    Reply
  42. That sounds amazing Teresa! I’d love to attend a Regency ball. And great that you got to see that grave too!

    Reply
  43. That sounds amazing Teresa! I’d love to attend a Regency ball. And great that you got to see that grave too!

    Reply
  44. That sounds amazing Teresa! I’d love to attend a Regency ball. And great that you got to see that grave too!

    Reply
  45. That sounds amazing Teresa! I’d love to attend a Regency ball. And great that you got to see that grave too!

    Reply
  46. Oh yes, wouldn’t that be just perfect! I think I could go back and live on just that for a week!

    Reply
  47. Oh yes, wouldn’t that be just perfect! I think I could go back and live on just that for a week!

    Reply
  48. Oh yes, wouldn’t that be just perfect! I think I could go back and live on just that for a week!

    Reply
  49. Oh yes, wouldn’t that be just perfect! I think I could go back and live on just that for a week!

    Reply
  50. Oh yes, wouldn’t that be just perfect! I think I could go back and live on just that for a week!

    Reply
  51. That’s a shame, Karla – hope you can go back and visit another time! It’s definitely a wonderful place. And thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed the blog post!

    Reply
  52. That’s a shame, Karla – hope you can go back and visit another time! It’s definitely a wonderful place. And thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed the blog post!

    Reply
  53. That’s a shame, Karla – hope you can go back and visit another time! It’s definitely a wonderful place. And thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed the blog post!

    Reply
  54. That’s a shame, Karla – hope you can go back and visit another time! It’s definitely a wonderful place. And thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed the blog post!

    Reply
  55. That’s a shame, Karla – hope you can go back and visit another time! It’s definitely a wonderful place. And thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed the blog post!

    Reply
  56. Thank you for such a wonderful post, Christina! I am lucky to have had most of my travel dreams fulfilled, some of them multiple times, but I still long to see New Zealand. Since first reading Katherine Mansfield when I was about 11, that’s been a dream destination. Then Ngaio Marsh significantly tweaked that dream, followed by Allan Curnow and Keri Hulme. My sister even gave me a copy of The Edmonton Cookery Book, after once reading that it was the all-time best-selling book in NZ! Then along came the scenery in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies…sigh…. Well, in the famous words of Monty Python, I’m not dead yet, and my dream is still a possibility!

    Reply
  57. Thank you for such a wonderful post, Christina! I am lucky to have had most of my travel dreams fulfilled, some of them multiple times, but I still long to see New Zealand. Since first reading Katherine Mansfield when I was about 11, that’s been a dream destination. Then Ngaio Marsh significantly tweaked that dream, followed by Allan Curnow and Keri Hulme. My sister even gave me a copy of The Edmonton Cookery Book, after once reading that it was the all-time best-selling book in NZ! Then along came the scenery in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies…sigh…. Well, in the famous words of Monty Python, I’m not dead yet, and my dream is still a possibility!

    Reply
  58. Thank you for such a wonderful post, Christina! I am lucky to have had most of my travel dreams fulfilled, some of them multiple times, but I still long to see New Zealand. Since first reading Katherine Mansfield when I was about 11, that’s been a dream destination. Then Ngaio Marsh significantly tweaked that dream, followed by Allan Curnow and Keri Hulme. My sister even gave me a copy of The Edmonton Cookery Book, after once reading that it was the all-time best-selling book in NZ! Then along came the scenery in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies…sigh…. Well, in the famous words of Monty Python, I’m not dead yet, and my dream is still a possibility!

    Reply
  59. Thank you for such a wonderful post, Christina! I am lucky to have had most of my travel dreams fulfilled, some of them multiple times, but I still long to see New Zealand. Since first reading Katherine Mansfield when I was about 11, that’s been a dream destination. Then Ngaio Marsh significantly tweaked that dream, followed by Allan Curnow and Keri Hulme. My sister even gave me a copy of The Edmonton Cookery Book, after once reading that it was the all-time best-selling book in NZ! Then along came the scenery in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies…sigh…. Well, in the famous words of Monty Python, I’m not dead yet, and my dream is still a possibility!

    Reply
  60. Thank you for such a wonderful post, Christina! I am lucky to have had most of my travel dreams fulfilled, some of them multiple times, but I still long to see New Zealand. Since first reading Katherine Mansfield when I was about 11, that’s been a dream destination. Then Ngaio Marsh significantly tweaked that dream, followed by Allan Curnow and Keri Hulme. My sister even gave me a copy of The Edmonton Cookery Book, after once reading that it was the all-time best-selling book in NZ! Then along came the scenery in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies…sigh…. Well, in the famous words of Monty Python, I’m not dead yet, and my dream is still a possibility!

    Reply
  61. Absolutely! I do hope you get to fulfill that dream. I would love to go there too as it looks spectacular. And some of my ancestors emigrated to NZ so it would be fun to follow in their footsteps. Thank you, Constance!

    Reply
  62. Absolutely! I do hope you get to fulfill that dream. I would love to go there too as it looks spectacular. And some of my ancestors emigrated to NZ so it would be fun to follow in their footsteps. Thank you, Constance!

    Reply
  63. Absolutely! I do hope you get to fulfill that dream. I would love to go there too as it looks spectacular. And some of my ancestors emigrated to NZ so it would be fun to follow in their footsteps. Thank you, Constance!

    Reply
  64. Absolutely! I do hope you get to fulfill that dream. I would love to go there too as it looks spectacular. And some of my ancestors emigrated to NZ so it would be fun to follow in their footsteps. Thank you, Constance!

    Reply
  65. Absolutely! I do hope you get to fulfill that dream. I would love to go there too as it looks spectacular. And some of my ancestors emigrated to NZ so it would be fun to follow in their footsteps. Thank you, Constance!

    Reply

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