Sunday, July 20, 2008

Napoli e Pompeii

We got up at 4:20 am to go South. As we didn't go to bed until after midnite, this was hard. They gave us a sack lunch: a mortadella sandwich, a banana and a water bottle. Mortadella is bologna with fat cubes in it. For those who know me, aside from the water, this meant nothing I could stand to eat. Fortunately I had pear juice, an apple and my fancy Raiano cookies. Got coffee around 8, not soon enough for me. The ride there, for at least the first half, was spectacular. Huge mountain climbs and views for miles. The Apennines might not be as tall as the Rockies in Colorado but are more like them in Montana only much greener. Pompeii was first as last year in the afternoon the temperature was over 100 and no shade. We were lucky it was only 80. Rafaele got a guide for us asking how his English was--Oh I just learned it last night so I should do fine for you. Luigi rushed us through as 'il tempo e soldi ''time is money'- He was difficult to understand and he wouldn't let us linger. But it was very intersting seeing how the city was built. Most streets were one way but every fifth street would be two-way. The streets were regularly flooded so there were stepping stones to cross arranged so carts could still get by. They had the casts of the people frozen in their tracks when they were covered by 50 ft of ash 1930 years ago.

But the city was amazingly sophisticated. Presumably it wasn't a particularly wealthy city, nearby Herculatium was much wealthier and sophisicated but much smaller. I will share pictures once Giacamo shows me how to again. Most of the art work had been removed and put in the Museo di Archeologico in Naples which we saw later. We headed north to nearby Naples, Lots of very ugly crumbling apartment buildings everywhere brightly painted. Almost looked like Mexico. There is 30% unemployment here. I was hesitant to go there. Jack outright refused saying that he had been accosted nonstop by the locals and feared for his life when he was there before. I didn't bring my guidebook as I thought I would be surrounded by the school staff but no, we were left in Piazza del Plebiscito and told to be at the museum in 2h. When we asked where it was, he said just ask anyone, they would know. Some of us are kids. I though it was not a good idea to drop kids off in a strange crime ridden city with such little direction. As it was only half of us made it there. My teacher Jim never had been in Naples. He said after walking in the heat for an hour, he asked a local how much farther and was told 4k, 2.4 miles (and he said screw it.) It turned out that it was about 1.5 miles total(when I did look at my guidebook back on the bus) but seemed farther uphill in that heat. Fortunately, no one begged us for anything or robbed us. We did stop in the beautiful Gran Caffe Gambrinus- formerly frequented by the intelligentsia such as Sartre and had the local favorite sfogliatella, flaky pastry filled with ricotta which I had before in Brooklyn. We also walked through the Galleria, an extremely ornate indoor mall. Beautiful though decaying buildings everywhere so I have some great pictures. The alleyways were filled with street vendors. The kids got great deals. We had a hard time finding the musuem. We eventually asked a local or rather Joann did in English. The person sort of knew English and pointed right while saying left so I piped in with, a destra o a sinistra, to get that straight. Joann knows Italian from 2 years in college, numerous travels, plus growing up with Italian parents so I was puzzled why she asked in English. She said if you speak a little, they will assume you know a lot and speak really quickly but I pointed out the downside, you get a person who knows the words left and right but have no idea which is which. We waited too long for everyone to show up, which they never did given the quality of the directions. We had to ask several people at different times and still almost missed it. There wasn't a sign on it either for extra fun. But we got to go into the -gambinetto segreto, the secret room which had all the Pompeii porn, beautiful mosaics of bizarre sex acts, and lots of utensils shaped like penises. I took pictures of course. The mosaics were incredible. Alot more than 2000 years old. The musuem was very interesting and beauitful inside but we were very tired. A bus was supposed to pick us up in 5 minutes which turned out to be 1.5 h. In the musuem cafe, I thought I was ordering some ice coffee but all I got was espresso foam that if you were to pop all the bubbles, would not fill a quarter teaspoon so I got a whole lot of taste and not much else and it was expensive too. After the museum we spent at least 3 frustrating hours waiting for busses then to drop off kids in 3 different places and numerous other stops, one of which was for the driver to take a smoking break. The Italians are very warm, welcoming people but they are habitually late and overpromise and drive me crazy. I wished I knew in advance how the day was going to be so I could have planned a meal sometime during the day. Trying the famous Napoli pizza would have been nice. They also think nothing of letting everyone wait for them. I hadn't really eatten, except for my foam, and wanted dinner. We finally stopped around 9 at night, thank God for my cookies, in a little town which proclaimed itself to be the city of oil, which I assume was olive. I got a nice dinner and a large birra for 5 euros. I also grabbed a gelato for the bus.

On the way back Dana and I made fun of our film class in which we overanalyze everything. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. She pretended she was analyzing "Caddyshack" that All American classic like the camera angle as it was filming the electronic groundhog and how closed in the groundhog must feel, etc. On the first day, people said what their favorite films were,all of them some artistic classic and she said the "Blues Brothers". When she realized she was out of sync, she said hey, I go to movies to be entertained not to work.
Sunday will be a rest day.

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