Rome to Pompeii

Our first stop on our tour through Europe was a 4 day visit to the eternal city, Rome.

Our accommodation was absolutely fantastic; it was literally a 3 minute walk from the hotel to the top of the Spanish Steps where we would head after dinner each night to sit, watch and listen to the passing parade of tourists, locals and beggers.

Photo of Greg looking at the Trevi Fountain - Rome

Trevi Fountain

We developed a plan of action so we might avoid other tourist crowds and line-ups. we would get up very early in the morning, grab breakfast where all the locals on their way to work were getting their’s; then we would jump on the hop-on hop-off tourist bus and set off for our place for the day, this worked really well, and very rarely had to line-up to get into anything.

By lunch time we would be ready for a relax, so would find a nice place for a leisurely lunch, a few wines, and head back to the hotel to rest up in the heat of the afternoon.

Photo of Greg at the Colosseum

The Colosseum

After our 4 days in Rome, visiting those must see sites; the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps and trecking those fantastic cobbled streets in search of a pizza- we did find a great place just at the bottom of the Spanish Steps.

Photo of Greg at the Spanish Steps - Rome

The Spanish Steps – Rome

It was time to move on

While we were in Italy, I wanted to get hands on in Pompeii; we had our 5 day EuroRail passes so we jumped on a train down to Naples, then caught the local bus along the Almalfi Coast to Sorento

That bus trip was one where not being able to see was a real advantage!

The bus driver, not only was he having a conversation with the lady sitting behind him, but was also on his mobile phone at the same time, he had one hand on the steering wheel, phone to his ear, as he leaned on the horn while taking the bus around blind bends; one side of the road had a sheer granite rockface and the other was a plunge down a cliff to the water below.

Needless to say, we paid a little extra and hired a car and driver to take us bak to Naples train station when our visit was finished.

So we spent 2 days in the beautiful little town of Sorento, The food was great, the people very friendly and it was just a short train trip to Pompeii.

We spent the day at Pompeii exploring the narrow streets, caved in buildings and just soking up the atmosphere. It was Fantastic to get the special awareness and hands on feel of such a ancient icon.

The Story gos;

Pompeii was partially destroyed and buried under 4 to 6 m (13 to 20 ft) of ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Pompeii was lost for nearly 1700 years before its rediscovery in 1748.

Photo of Cobblestone street in Pompeii


In 79 AD, Pliny the Elder died during the eruption of the volcano Vesuvius. His nephew, Pliny the Younger escaped the destruction of Pompeii and left a written account of the eruption. As you read the letter below, listen to this audio version read by a well-known actor:

Pliny’s Letter Audio

“The carts that we had ordered brought were moving in opposite directions, though the ground was perfectly flat, and they wouldn’t stay in place even with their wheels blocked by stones. In addition, it seemed as though the sea was being sucked backwards, as if it were being pushed back by the shaking of the land. Certainly the shoreline moved outwards, and many sea creatures were left on dry sand.

Behind us were frightening dark clouds, rent by lightning twisted and hurled, opening to reveal huge figures of flame. These were like lightning, but bigger. At that point the Spanish friend urged us strongly: “If your brother and uncle is alive, he wants you to be safe. If he has perished, he wanted you to survive him. So why are you reluctant to escape?” We responded that we would not look to our own safety as long as we were uncertain about his. Waiting no longer, he took himself off from the danger at a mad pace.

It wasn’t long thereafter that the cloud stretched down to the ground and covered the sea. It girdled Capri and made it vanish, it hid Misenum’s promontory. Then my mother began to beg and urge and order me to flee however I might, saying that a young man could make it, that she, weighed down in years and body, would die happy if she escaped being the cause of my death. I replied that I wouldn’t save myself without her, and then I took her hand and made her walk a little faster. She obeyed with difficulty, and blamed herself for delaying me.

Now came the dust, though still thinly. I look back: a dense cloud looms behind us, following us like a flood poured across the land. “Let us turn aside while we can still see, lest we be knocked over in the street and crushed by the crowd of our companions.” We had scarcely sat down when a darkness came that was not like a moonless or cloudy night, but more like the black of closed and unlighted rooms. You could hear women lamenting, children crying, men shouting and were calling for parents, others for children or spouses; they could only recognize them by their voices.

Some bemoaned their own lot, other that of their near and dear. There were some so afraid of death that they prayed for death. Many raised their hands to the gods, and even more believed that there were no gods any longer and that this was one last unending night for the world. Nor were we without people who magnified real dangers with fictitious horrors. Some announced that one or another part of Misenum had collapsed or burned; lies, but they found believers. It grew lighter, though that seemed not a return of day, but a sign that the fire was approaching.

The fire itself actually stopped some distance away, but darkness and ashes came again, a great weight of them. We stood up and shook the ash off again and again, otherwise we would have been covered with it and crushed by the weight. I might boast that no groan escaped me in such perils, no cowardly word, but that I believed that I was perishing with the world, and the world with me, which was a great consolation for death.

At last the cloud thinned out and dwindled to no more than smoke or fog. Soon there was real daylight. The sun was even shining, though with the lurid glow it has after an eclipse. The sight that met our still terrified eyes was a changed world, buried in ash like snow.
We returned to Misenum and took care of our bodily needs, but spent the night dangling between hope and fear. Fear was the stronger, for the earth was still quaking and a number of people who had gone mad were mocking the evils that had happened to them and others with terrifying prognostications. We still refused to go until we heard news of my uncle, although we had felt danger and expected more.

You will read what I have written, but will not take up your pen, as the material is not the stuff of history. You have only yourself to blame if it seems not even proper
stuff for a letter. Farewell”