Traveling by bus was actually really fun. Trafalgar only uses charter buses that are no more that 3 years old. Ours was one year old and apparently they run about €250,000. Like an airplane, every seat had its own light, air conditioning and bathroom. Every day we were on the bus, Patrizia would have new seat assignments, this way you always sat next to someone new, and everyone throughout the trip, would have a chance to sit on the right and left side of the front, middle and back of the bus.
Our first stop was the Commonwealth War Cemetery, home to thousands of brave souls whose final resting place was the battlefield of Monte Cassino.
We then ventured south to a city frozen in time – Pompeii. Pompeii was an ancient Roman town-city near modern Naples, in the Campania region of Italy. Pompeii, along with Herculaneum and many villas in the surrounding area, was mostly destroyed and buried under 13 to 20 ft of volcanic ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.
Archaeologists believe that the town was founded in the 7th or 6th century BC by the Oscans. By the time of its destruction, 160 years later, its population was estimated at 11,000 people, and the city had a complex water system, an amphitheatre, a gymnasium, and a port.
The eruption destroyed the city, killing its inhabitants and burying it under tons of ash. The site was lost for about 1,500 years until its initial rediscovery in 1599 and broader rediscovery almost 150 years later by Spanish engineer Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre in 1748.
Pompeii has been a tourist destination for over 250 years. Today it has UNESCO World Heritage Site status and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy, with approximately 2.5 million visitors every year.
Some aspects of the culture were distinctly erotic, including frequent use of the phallus as apotropaion or good-luck charm in various types of decoration. Here our tour guide is showing us a fresco painting that has graffiti on it. The graffiti is about 1,000 years old and is a phallic symbol.
Excavators unearthed evidence of numerous brothels in the ancient city of Pompeii, as determined by the discovery of both erotic frescoes and graffiti adorning the walls of buildings containing numerous rooms with stone beds. If you really start to look, there are phallic symbols in the stone and if you follow where the penis points, you’ll eventually make your way to a brothel. Think Google Maps for sex in ancient times.
Below is the entrance to one of the streets filled with brothels. If you look really closely, below the street sign, is another phallic symbol, letting you know that you are in the right place.
One of the famous brothels in Pompeii is called the Lupanare (Latin for wolf’s den). This was a two-story building built just years before the destruction of Pompeii. Believed to be the only purpose-built brothel in Pompeii, the Lupanare had ten rooms and a latrine under the stairs. Each of the ten rooms had a stone bed covered with a mattress where a prostitute would entertain her clients. Another famous feature of the Lupanare is its erotic wall paintings. Each of the paintings depicted a different position for sexual intercourse, and is believed to have been an advertising board for the various specialities that were on offer.
Because of the popularity and significance of the brothels in the city of Pompeii, it lead to some colorful tourist gifts. Erotic calendars, playing cards, key chains, bottle openers lined the little shops outside of the ancient city.
During early excavations of Pompeii, occasional voids in the ash layer were found that contained human remains. It was Giuseppe Fiorelli who realized these were spaces left by the decomposed bodies and so devised the technique of injecting plaster into them to recreate the forms of Vesuvius’s victims. This technique is still in use today, with a clear resin now used instead of plaster because it is more durable, and does not destroy the bones, allowing further analysis.
After learning about this incredible city, it was time for lunch and gelato.
One of my favorite things about traveling with a group is all the wonderful people you get to meet. You hear their stories, and as I’ve said several times already, you start as strangers and leave as friends. There was another sweet couple, Richard and Mary, who were also newlyweds. Their story is a little different than ours but is so sweet, it’ll make your heart smile. Both lost their spouses to alzheimer’s disease, Richard was married over 50 years and Mary about 35 years. They met in a grief support group and the rest is history. Mary said “Richard was my sunshine after a dark storm.” ♥️
We then all hopped back on the bus and headed to Ravello, a small town and comune situated above the Amalfi Coast in the province of Salerno, Campania, southern Italy, with a population of approximately 2,500. During the drive, it was a little overcast, but the views were still amazing.
Nathan and I were both totally fascinated by the funny little cars. The cars are very small, the streets are very narrow and you are constantly amazing at the Italian drivers. They are so skilled.
In the 9th century Ravello was an important town of the maritime Republic of Amalfi. It was a producer of wool from its surrounding country that was dyed in the town and an important trading power in the Mediterranean between 839 and around 1200.
Throughout the trip, we’d do fun group activities and then we’d always have free time to explore. Patrizia would usually write down a time for all of us to meet back. I have a terrible memory for numbers, so taking a picture usually helped us.
While in Ravello, we found a little shoe cobbler that made me a custom pair of sandals. It was so much fun to watch her make these in about 20 minutes. So special!
Build in 1270, Villa Rufolo, built by Nicola Rufolo, one of the richest Patricians of Ravello, on a ledge and it has become a famous attraction for thousands of visitors. Please look at the sweet little dog house that we found in it.
As the day progressed, the weather continued to get better and better. Look at these views – unreal.
Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
Lemons are everywhere and limoncello seems to be the dessert drink of choice for most Italians. Mama Patrizia was very good about supplying everyone shots. Cheers!
After spending most of the day in Ravello, we headed back down and made the last leg of the drive to Maiori.
Our hotel in Maiori, Hotel Sole Splendid, was by far the biggest room we stayed on in Italy. We were right on the water and had views of the Amalfi Coast from our window.
For dinner we ate with our fellow travels at the hotel. It was a long day so we were both totally exhausted and went to bed pretty early.
Comment below if you have any questions on Pompeii, Ravello or Mairoi. Addio.