This was the day that we planned to go to Pompei. It almost didn’t happen. We walked over to the Sorrento Circumvesuviana train station, ready to buy tickets to Pompei Scavi (Pompei Excavations). Note, you want Pompei Scavi, not Pompei – Pompei the modern city that’s adjacent to the excavations, according to the guidebooks, is a crime-ridden hole and not worthy of a visit unless you’re looking to buy drugs or look at modern-day graffiti 1
At the train station, there was a sign that said “no train to Pompei today due to technical difficulties” (or something like that, in Italian). We were of course really upset by that, but decided not to give up just yet. When we went upstairs and asked at the ticket window, the guy reached around and grabbed the out of service notice off the window and crumpled it and threw it away. I guess there’s a train after all. 🙂
The area right around the entrance to Pompei Scavi is filled with tons of street vendors trying to aggressively sell you all sorts of food and beverages. There are also a lot of people hanging around the ticket booths offering to sell you their services as tour guides.
The ruins are really interesting and a lot bigger than what I had imagined. This isn’t a village with one road as I imagined – it’s a gigantic city. Much of it is laid out like a grid, kind of like a modern city. You can see remnants of all kinds of stuff like ovens, pottery, mosaics, and yes, human bodies. I don’t know why, but there seems to be tons of stray dogs wandering around the grounds, along with the throngs of tourists.
Aside from the interesting architecture, the other notable thing about Pompei for us was that it was the site of the most horrendous food that we had in all of Italy. We had lunch at a cafeteria on the site and it was memorably bad. The lasagna looked a bit too much like vomit and had a sour, rancid taste. We couldn’t finish it. We threw it out and tried our look at an orange – that wasn’t particulary good either.
Back in Sorrento, we ate dinner at L’Abate, which was recommended by the hotel concierge and was very, very good. We had and enjoyed:
- insalata caprese
- ravioli caprese
- veal marsala
1 Here’s an interesting little bit of trivia. I went to check the spelling of “graffiti” by looking up in an online dictionary and this was one of the entries:
Inscriptions, figure drawings, etc., found on the walls of ancient sepulchers or ruins, as in the Catacombs, or at Pompeii (emphasis mine).