My favorite Roman ruins
25 August 2014 | Crotone, Italy
In Crotone, we left Por Dos safely tied to a marina dock, rented a car, and drove 400 km to Pompeii, my all time favorite Roman ruins. Mark had got us accommodation in an inexpensive B&B located at 5 min walk from the ruins entrance. We got there at lunch time, and the day was so sunny and cloudless, that we decided to go straight to Mt Vesuvius. For 5 EU, we parked the car right at the ticket entrance to Mt Vesuvius. Then, we strolled up to the crater. Despite vulcanology information indicating that this is an active volcano that could at any moment explode and endanger the 4+ million people living around it, there was no indication of activity, except for a small puff of smoke which was pointed out to us by one of the park rangers (we would not have seen it otherwise). All our other Italian volcanos, Vulcano, Stromboli and Etna, had been much more vocal, rumbly and smoky. Nevertheless it was a beautiful walk around part of the rim overlooking the Bay of Naples and the Amalfi Coast. We could see the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum from the top of Mt Vesuvius, remanding us of how dangerous this volcano can become.
Next day we visited Pompeii in the morning and Herculaneum in the afternoon. We rented audio guides in both places, and had a great time. Pompeii started to get crowded by lunch time, but by that time we were tired and hungry. So we took the train to Naples and had a fantastic lunch in a restaurant full of locals near the train station. We had planned to visit the Archeological Museum in the afternoon but as it turns out, most of the exhibitions that we wanted to see closed in the afternoon! We decided to visit Herculaneum in the late afternoon and leave the visit to the museum for the next morning. After another quick train ride, we arrived to the Herculaneum ruins. There were very few people which made our visit even more enjoyable. We have seen plenty of Roman and Greek ruins, but, in most places, the ruins are from monuments, palaces and official buildings. What makes Pompeii and Herculaneum unique (or almost unique) is that they provide a window view into the life of the average Mark and Marta two thousand years ago. One can visit the bread maker, the bar, the fast food places of the time, the house of the well-off and the ones of the middle and low classes; and, of course, the temples, forum, etc. Most of the frescos, mosaics, and home artifacts had been removed to the Archeological Museum in Naples for preservation, which we visited the next morning before heading back to Crotone. Of course, we drove via the famous Amalfi Coast drive, one of those super windy roads particularly enjoyed by those who, like Mark, like to drive.
Back in Crotone, we met up with our friends from Nyctea and, few days later, with Wandering Dragon’s crew. Both had been with us in Marina di Ragusa over winter. It was great fun to catch up.
The spare part for our back up autopilot arrived on Monday. We had planned to sail overnight to Siracusa in the east side of Sicily next. The forecast for the next few days was not great, possibly motorsailing all the way but we were ready to move; plus even a cheap marina becomes expensive after a while. So, we left Tuesday morning for our next destination.