After visiting the Eternal City of Rome, we took a high speed train to Naples and arrived just over an hour later. Napoli Centrale was filled with travelers from every culture you can imagine and it was neat to see all of the different ways that they dressed. On the way in, we were able to see a lot of the city and it was pretty run down looking from what we could tell and even a little scary in parts. We weren’t concerned with it though because we weren’t planning on spending any time in Naples. It was simply a connecting point for us to head off on an excursion to Pompeii. We decided to check our luggage at the train station for safety and ease of travel since we had planned to tour the ruins that day. We walked across the street from the station and found the meeting point that was described to us when we purchased our tour tickets. However, there was not a tour group in site. We waited and asked around but nobody seemed to know what we were talking about. After a few minutes we started second guessing ourselves and walked back and forth a few times wondering if we had gone to the wrong spot. Finally, after wondering if we had been stood up, a bus abruptly pulled up and a woman got out and called our names. Relieved, we boarded the bus and from there, we took a 15-20 minute bus ride with our tour group to Pompeii.
It had been sprinkling on us as we were waiting for the bus so we checked the weather and it didn’t look pretty for the next few hours. Despite the forecast, we tried to stay optimistic for the day ahead. However, just as we were entering the gates of Pompeii with our tour group, dark clouds rolled in and winds picked up and a torrential down pour began!
Luckily Dustin had been hit up by a vendor in the parking lot and decided to buy an umbrella since rain was inevitably on its way. However, the temperature had dropped substantially and we had dressed for the hot day that it had started out as in Rome that morning, so it quickly became a little miserable standing outside exposed in the elements. We took cover in one of the few buildings in Pompeii that still had a roof in-tact to wait out the rest of the storm. All of the other tour groups got the same idea, so for awhile it got a little cozy in there! The tour had a limited time frame so when the rain didn’t let up, we were forced to go back outside if we wanted to continue the tour. Dustin and I had an extra umbrella so we let another couple borrow it so we could all brave the rest of the tour. It was so cold and windy at one point that random people started cramming under the umbrellas with us, but we didn’t mind 🙂
Once the rain let up, we continued on with our tour and the weather eventually cleared and warmed up so we were able to see a little more of the ruins.
Pompeii was known as sort of the Las Vegas of its time; a sin city. There were several brothels throughout the village where sailors from Naples would visit. There were carvings in the ground and on the buildings in the shape of male phalluses that directed the sailors to these brothels. It was a little crazy but pretty funny seeing these images used as street signs, and of course, Dustin couldn’t resist getting a picture of me by one of them. I was embarrassed, as you can see by my facial expression!
There is one area of Pompeii that showcases some of the items and even some of the people who had been covered in ash when the volcano erupted in 79 AD . During the city’s excavation, they filled in some of the ash layers with plaster so they could see what the original objects and people looked like who lost their lives in the eruption. It was very sad to see the people, but very interesting to see the objects.
After Pompeii, the tour was supposed to continue on to hike around Mt. Vesuvius, which is the active volcano set in the backdrop of Pompeii. This was one of the things I had most been looking forward to on the trip and although peering into an active volcano has always been on my bucket list, we had spent the morning walking around in cold, soggy clothing and shoes, and we were worried about making it to our hotel in time to check in, so we decided to save that experience for another trip and leave the tour early. We took the bus back to Napoli Centrale, picked up our luggage, and bought tickets to our final destination that day to relax and enjoy the beach in the charming town of Vico Equense.
The regional trains do not go any further than Naples so from there we had to transfer to the Circumvesuviana train line to go south. This train line was not included on our train passes but tickets were cheap (only about 5 euros each for a one way ticket). We had read stories about how it was full of pick pockets so we kept a close eye on all of our luggage. There were some scary characters in that train station for sure and all of the trains were absolutely saturated in graffiti. It was definitely different from the first class high speed trains we had been traveling on with our rail passes prior to that! It was a bit of a fiasco trying to find the correct track to be on to catch our train since we didn’t speak the language but we finally hopped on a train that was heading the direction we wanted to go and hoped for the best. I kept my bag in front of me and Dustin behind me and everything was fine. We must have looked lost though because soon two Italian men asked us where we were heading and informed us that we were on the wrong train. They told us which stop to switch trains at and we thanked them and got off a couple stops later. What a God-send that they decided to start talking to us! Finally after about 27 quick stops later which took about an hour, we finally arrived in Vico Equense, without anymore issues.