Italy Day 4: Pompeii

I really, really was hoping to knock these Italy posts out quick-like by posting multiple ones a day but it’s taken me over 2 hour per post so that ain’t happening! It’s like Zach said though…I don’t wanna not post about it. This was a HUGE trip for us and something we NEVER want to forget! 

Morning four was an early one…we got about 4 hours of sleep. Awesome. Somehow I functioned fine though?!?! I guess I just adjusted to a TON of walking, massive amounts of eating, and very little sleeping! They brought us our breakfast and I actually took the time to get a picture of it! Usually we were too rushed πŸ™‚ It was always a large amount of pastries. I loved the hot chocolate but Zach didn’t like it. It was TOO much chocolate for him but it was right up my ally πŸ™‚

When planning the trip we consulted Casey, Zach’s sister, on a lot of things. She did a summer semester in Italy while in college so she knows a TON about the area. She told us a visit to Sorrento and Capri was a MUST. I probably said it 100 times while we were in Italy but I’m SO thankful Casey went before we did!!! Our trip benefited so much from her experiences πŸ™‚

When I looked into going to Sorrento we decided to book a hotel room for one night. We’d ride a train there and stop in Pompeii on the way down then explore Capri the next day and head back to Rome afterwards. We still payed for that night in Rome at our hotel so we didn’t have to bring ALL of our luggage with us and so all of my breast milk could stay in one spot, nice and cold πŸ™‚ It’s SO something we wouldn’t normally do. Spend money on a room we aren’t even sleeping in?!?! But that was one of the luxuries of saving up…we had the money to do it so we did it!

Neither of us have ever ridden on a train before and Zach said it was one of the things he was most excited about on the trip! I wasn’t quite sure how everything would work so we packed light and left with plenty of time to get to our train. It’s SUPER difficult to navigate in a foreign country, but we found our train and were pretty sure it was the right one πŸ™‚ We literally just walked on and put our bags up. No one checked our tickets (not until after the first stop) and we didn’t pass through even one security check. Isn’t that crazy?!?! I couldn’t get over it!!!

First train ride!

Our seats were in a little cabin. There were 6 seats per cabin and they were facing each other. The seats were WAY more comfortable than airplane ones and I did a good bit of sleeping on the way there πŸ™‚ We had planned to watch Angels and Demons on our way (we had a tour based on the book/movie set for Friday so we wanted a refresher!) but I was WAY too exhausted to pay attention. I think Zach read on his ipad while I slept πŸ™‚

Luggage racks above our seats where everyone just threw their luggage.

Our train went from Rome to Naples. Then in Naples we had to catch another train to Pompei and that train would continue to take us to Sorrento. When we got to Naples we both needed to hit up the bathroom. I was in need of a pump session πŸ™‚ Zach kept smelling pee everywhere we went and we even saw piles of it in corners at the station. So gross. But then we realized why…they charged a Euro per person to use the bathroom. You KNOW people can’t afford that all the time! Zach paid it even though he just had to pee. Made more sense why guys would just find a corner to do their business in. I didn’t mind paying a Euro for me b/c I was in there a solid 20 minutes!

It was a lot more travel time than I had anticipated. Our train to Naples left Rome at 7 am, got to Naples at 9:30. I assumed we’d be in Pompeii by 10:30. Nope. It was after noon by the time we got there!!! The train from Naples to Pompeii was nothing to write home about either…it was cheap (the one from Rome to Naples was like $60 a piece one way…I pre-booked from home so I’m SURE I paid more but I didn’t want the stress of having to do it there) but it was very cramped. It was SO crowded I could barely breath. No joke.

Train to Pompei!

Finally got out of the massive crowd and was able to breathe πŸ™‚

Right when we exited the train (after what felt like a MILLION stops it had to make) we were at Pompeii. It was nice that the train literally stopped right in front of where we wanted to go. We decided to eat lunch and pump before heading in. We ate at a little restaurant at the entrance of the ruins so you’d assume it’d be super touristy…but honestly I enjoyed the meal! Zach got a yummy sandwich and I had pasta. The bread was awesome and the nice cold water was even better πŸ™‚

Haha love this face

I actually enjoyed this so much I ordered it another day…it was spinach and cheese filled pasta. YUM!

After lunch I went ahead and pumped. The restaurant let me use their bathroom but it was pretty much just an out house…and there was only one womens stall. So I had a decent line of people banging on the door annoyed at how long I was taking. I came up with a pretty good sign for pumping…when I came out of the stall I held the full bottles up to my chest and made a squeezing motion with my hands haha. It worked and the ladies all apologized. 

If you don’t know any background about Pompeii (I don’t know if it’s a common knowledge thing or if I just know a decent amount about it from my Latin background?!?!)…it is a city. A very, very old city. It got partially destroyed and then buried under 13-20 feet of ash after the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79 AD. It’s now one of the largest attractions in Italy and draws in over 2,500,000 visitors a year!!! Since it’s located near an active volcano, the area is known for MASSIVE fruit. Check out these lemons!!!

Large oranges too!

Before going in we decided to buy audio guides. I had my Frommer’s guidebook but it wasn’t super detailed about Vatican Museum and this kind of thing was more interesting to us than a bunch of art anyway. As soon as I turned on my audio guide I instantly regretted getting it. It started off with some music to “set the scene” and was one of those “put yourself back in the days of Pompeii…” type things. I think that’s so annoying. Just tell me the facts. I don’t want to pretend that I lived in that era ya know? We looked at the map and realized the place was BEYOND massive. Like we could be there for a solid year and still not see everything. We decided to follow my Frommer’s recommendations on what to see in what order then reference Zach’s map on how to get there. I’d take pictures and he’d listen to the audio guide then tell me the highlights for each area we went to. It was a solid plan and worked out great!

This is the marketplace and where trials were held, sort of the central location of the town. It was the first place we stopped so we spent a good bit of time here, not realizing that EVERYWHERE we went would be this cool πŸ˜‰

Mt Vesuvius…and yes, it’s still active!

More from the Forum.

I just thought this ancient writing was cool

The “coolest” part was seeing the bodies. I know that sounds super morbid…but Zach and I both get into stuff like that. It was neat how the ash preserved them so well!

This man is “the mule driver” as he was found next to his mule. It was my “favorite” thing I saw the whole time…not because I enjoyed seeing it but because it really had an affect on me. You can feel his fear and when you see him you’re instantly put back in time to when the explosion happened. You can imagine how terrifying it was and it really makes you think about your own death someday and the emotions you will feel when experiencing that. It was so horribly sad I really had to hold back tears.

To continue with the sadness, this woman is pregnant πŸ™ You can tell she’s laying down trying to protect her unborn baby. Ugh can you even begin to imagine?!?!

This is the men’s bath. They would first bathe in cold water and then in hot water. This barrel vault is grooved so the condensation would drain down the sides and not drip over the bathers heads.

This is the men’s changing area. Sort of like a locker room, where they would undress before taking their baths. The hot water chamber was also in here (Zach wasn’t too happy that I didn’t snap a picture of it!). They would put their togas in small niches and would bathe in the nude.

Where they lit the fires for the warm bathing room

The details are AMAZING to me and how well preserved they are!

A popular bakery in town, you can see the arched bread ovens

These are grinders. There are holes in them where they would attach big wooden poles. They would then attach those poles to mules who would walk around in the circle to grind wheat into flour.

Do you ever wish we could some preserve the way something feels? Like for example when I’m cuddling with my kids I love their sweet, soft skin and I wish there was a way for me to bottle it up so I can always remember how wonderful it feels to hold them and love on them. The weather that day was seriously THE BEST weather I have ever felt. It was perfect. I kept saying how much I wish we could somehow remember that feeling forever. It wasn’t hot. It wasn’t cold. There was a soft breeze. It was just flawless!!! I noticed looking at the weeds that the weeds were the same type we had growing up in Lawrenceville so I’m thinking it’s similar weather to what we had then too? Maybe that’s why it felt so amazing to me…it reminded me of home πŸ™‚

Sports practice area, in the center of the baths

Womens bathing area…

Cold water to cool off after their hot bath

Again, I couldn’t get over the vivid colors

Bodies found in the area

Zach was annoyed when he saw this picture. This is a runner and I guess his or her body was in the running position and that’s what I should have taken the picture of. But his or her face was super freaky looking…doesn’t it look like they are smiling?!?! So I took a close-up instead of a full body shot! Oops!

More details

The floor was raised and they used under floor heating to heat the baths. It’s crazy to think of all the technology they had back then. We think we’re so advanced now but really many of the things they did are similar ideas to what we use now!

This is a large theater

The white seating at the bottom was where the most important people sat, the higher up you go for seating meant the less important of a person you were (isn’t it also like that now if you think about it?). When you look at the stage you can see some steps. They had a stage over the steps and then an area under the stage where they kept things to use during plays. The green grass area you see on the other side of the stage was a courtyard where they would gather and mingle during intermissions.

We’re low class…we hang at the top πŸ˜‰

The area under the stage, used for storage and such

Another few of Vesuvius

Zach wants old Italian maps for his office and all of these panoramic pics to hang up in there too πŸ˜‰

While we were walking around we saw several stray dogs. Like full-bread ones which was odd to me? We saw a German Shepard and this Chihuahua. I heard some people talking about how the dogs would get into hardcore fights because they each have their own territory. Zach made fun of the fact that I took four pictures of this dog but I’m only posting one I promise πŸ˜‰

Potty break! It was up a steep hill so I passed…by this point I was SO TIRED. The lack of sleep and ALL the walking had done me in. I was BEAT!!! I kept saying “I’m soooo glad I’m having to pump rather than be PREGNANT on this trip!”

This was a huge house we went and looked at

These holes is where spindles would go and they would use a wooden press to iron their clothing.

Goddess of Winter

This basin was used to soak their clothing in urine to help clean their clothes.

I just liked all the cool colors and artwork…we were hoping to find a book about Pompeii but they didn’t even have a gift shop!

Tile showing what the walls used to look like

You can see the layers of wall as well as roofing

Each home would have their own miniature alters where they kept their idols. They worshiped many different types of gods.

They would build homes on top of older homes. This square area is actually a former dining room of the home below the home we were inside. This was considered the largest dining room of the time!

Zach has this thing about my hair looking wind blown, whenever it’s blowing in a picture he always says I look awesome. It’s really cute how he does that. Usually, I disagree with him once I finally look at the pictures but this time I actually do like these!

One annoying thing about Pompeii was how spread out everything was. I mean I know they can’t do anything about that. It’s how the city was and it was a HUGE city. But it was annoying because we’d walk forever to go see something and then they’d have that area closed off for some reason. Drove us nuts! This time we hiked up a long path (Zach said we probably walked 6 miles a day easy on this trip) to see some remains of people only to find that they moved them and put them behind glass in an area where you couldn’t possibly see!!! You can kinda make it out through these bars but one of the bodies was of a child πŸ™ I was SUPER annoyed and said, rather loudly, “I mean why are they worried about preserving everything? It’s lasted this long hasn’t it?!?!” I didn’t realized another family was nearby and heard me (and spoke English) and they all started laughing. We ended up talking to them for a few minutes and saw them again later. It was a mom, dad, son and daughter and you could tell they were having a BLAST together. It made me super excited for when our kids are old enough to travel like that together. Think of all the great memories we will make πŸ™‚

This is the Amphitheater, an elliptical arena that was built in the 1st century BC and is the world’s oldest known surviving amphitheater. While it’s not nearly as large as the Colosseum in Rome, it’s much better preserved. They held two types of fights here – gladiators vs animals and gladiators vs gladiators (We kept saying we should have also rented Gladiator to watch while on the trip!!! We both want to see it again now!). 25,000 people could fit inside this arena.

Standing where gladiators would enter the arena…how cool is that?!?!

I tried REALLY hard to pack light for this trip. You can tell I wore one of two sweaters pretty much every day (Zach wished he’d packed a sweater…it was often chilly and all he had were shorts!). I also packed four pairs of flip flops. I have owned the same pairs of Rainbows for 6 years now and they were always my favorites. Zach bought me my Crocs Sexi Flips for my last birthday and I wanted to bring them too (so I packed both types of shoes, in black and brown giving me four pairs). This was the first full day I wore my Rainbows as I had worn the Crocs the other two days and while they were SO comfortable, the area in-between my toes was starting to hurt some. I totally regretted not just sucking it up and wearing them again. The SOLES of my feet hurt SO badly after doing all of that walking in my Rainbows!!! Neither type of shoe ever gave me a blister but the Crocs were much more comfortable AND they are cuter too πŸ™‚ I took this picture to show off my pedicure! It was 3 weeks old and still holding strong…and to show how filthy my feet got. See the are below my toes, how BLACK it is?!?! It’s the color the shoe should be!

The friendly family took this for us πŸ™‚

After taking these pics we went to leave and found a camera sitting on the ground. I feel SO BAD for the kid (it had pics of college age students on it) who left it. Can you imagine going to Italy and taking all of these amazing, once in a lifetime pics and then LOSING your camera?!?! Zach carried it with him and we turned it into the lost and found and they joked about how they trade out their own cameras for the nicer ones that come through. I imagine people don’t often pick them back up. We left pretty soon after we found it and we’re pretty sure we actually saw the kids who left it as there were a group of them taking pictures before we did. So we’re hoping they were still looking at the sights and maybe went by the lost and found and got it!

I LOVED these super tall trees!!! I wonder if they’ve been there since the 1st century BC too? πŸ˜‰

Some ancient writings

When I went through editing the pics this made me laugh out loud. Doesn’t this girl look like a column?

Cropped her out πŸ™‚

Mt. Vesuvius again!

View leaving the ruins

One more of Mt Vesuvius. I know, you get it, but how many times will we be able to get pictures of it?

When we dropped off the audio-tours it was time for me to pump. We had explored Pompeii for a solid 4 hours! I figured I’d hit up their bathrooms but walked in and turned around and walked back out. It was disgusting. I don’t mind having to sit on a toilet lid while pumping (although I REFUSE to pump and pee at the same time. That’s just gross) and have even sat on just a toilet seat when needed but this bathroom didn’t even HAVE a toilet seat to sit on!!! I was not about to stand for 20 min after walking all day so we went back to our lunch spot and got our daily gelato fix before I pumped in that same bathroom again.

Zach sat and read while I did my business and he told me a funny story when I got done. A young American girl was sitting by herself then came up to him and asked if he was American. He said yes and she asked if he’d mind if she sat down and talked to him for awhile as it was SO nice to see another American. He said sure. So she sat down and asked him how long he was there for and he said “about 30 min or so I’m waiting on my wife to get done in the bathroom.” She got super uncomfortable and he said “it’s okay though we can still talk.” Hahaha. She was totally hitting on him! When I got done pumping she was actually waiting to use the bathroom. I didn’t know any of this had happened so I quickly apologized for taking so long and explained what I had been doing and she said “I know you’re husband told me.” But was SUPER awkward about it. It made a lot more sense when I got back to Zach! Zach felt really sorry for her b/c she was so embarrassed…made a good story though πŸ™‚

Freshly pumped and ready to hit the road!

The train from Naples to Sorrento (with a stop in Pompeii) ran through every 30 minutes so we had to wait a little while for it to arrive. It was MUCH less crowded since we were heading to Sorrento. It was a lot more locals and we enjoyed people watching. It was still a solid 2 hour trip though. A LOT of travel and walking for a day!!!

While on the train we watched a group of young teenage boys who obviously all played on the same soccer team. They were hanging out playing a card game and it was so interesting to watch them interact. We couldn’t understand what they were saying but we could quickly pick out the “leader”, the “goofball”, the “nerd”, the “follower” etc. It was also interesting to see how much more affectionate they were with each other. In America they would have been quickly labeled as gay but I thought it was refreshing to see them pat each other on the back and tease each other in a way that most teenage boys wouldn’t do with each other.

Goodbye Pompeii…Sorrento is next!


  1. Nicole Santoro
    June 22, 2012 / 7:16 pm

    Wow, Pompeii looks like a very cool place to visit.Β  When you mentioned the train station smelling like pee, I immediately thought of the Marta stations in Atlanta…you don't even have to pay to use the bathrooms thereΒ but homeless peopleΒ must pee all over that place, it always smells terrible….SO gross!

  2. Chelley
    June 23, 2012 / 2:10 am

    We spent 3 weeks in Zambia in 2008. Where we were walking all the time, there was very little grass, so our feet were DISGUSTING by the end of every day. Even if we wore actual shoes instead of sandals (which was rare), the dust and dirt turned our socks BROWN. But, lucky for us, they had a "foot washing basin" at our hotel (using that word VERY generously) so we washed our feet each evening before climbing in bed to keep our sheets clean. My favorite Born sandals were RUINED after that trip because of all the dirt, though :(.

  3. Sara Watkins
    June 24, 2012 / 3:16 pm

    I don't typically comment on your blog, but I do read it frequently. I am loving all of your Italy pictures! I thought of two things when reading this post. One: I also love my Rainbows. The last pair I had lasted about five years. Then I wore them to Sea World one day and it poured while we were there. The brown color ran all over my feet and they completely broke in the arches. I got two new pairs to replace them! And two: I lost my camera in Epcot at the end of my son's very first trip to Disney (a different trip than the Rainbows incident). My husband wasn't with us, so it was that much more devastating that I have no pictures from that vacation. I still feel sick thinking about that. I went to lost and found, but no one had turned it in. I was able to call there for up to a year to see if it ever showed up, but it never did and those pictures are gone forever. That was so nice of y'all to turn in that kid's camera. I'm sure he/she really appreciates it. Can't wait to read more of your awesome vacation!

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