That’s nothing quite like the soothing sound of a Naples morning. The street cleaning, the cafe deliveries, the early seagulls. You wake feeling alive and ready to start the day.
Well, some of us do.
Naturally, John and I headed downstairs first thing to buy some sugary treats for the still recumbent Weasels. While they slept on, we managed to have a couple of espressos which we both agreed were exceptionally good.
It was a long wait (during which we watched the sun light up the view from the balcony) but eventually we left for our daytrip to the Oplontis excavation. This entailed getting the Metro (Toleda Station outside our door) to Garibaldi then the Circumvesuvia line.
Firstly, it’s advisable to go early because the trains get packed. It’s also a good idea to be prepared for your incredibly full train to break down after two stops.
Actually, before we reached the very full train, there was almost a bloodbath at Garibaldi ticket office when Anthea and her backpack had a sort of an altercation with a small Italian man who wanted to get inside said backpack while she was wearing it.
On the train were a bunch of antipodean tourists, two of whom had no idea what they wanted to see. They had no idea what Pompei or Herculaneum were so John convinced them that Herculaneum was better. It was no coincidence that Herculaneum was a few stops before ours. The effect was a much more comfortable journey.
So, finally we left the train and trudged down the hill to the Villa Poppaea. She was Nero’s wife and had an opera named after her that I saw a few years ago. Apart from those interesting things, her house was exquisite.
It was clearly an amazing place. Built on a tall cliff overlooking the sea that used to lap at its edges, the villa was started sometime in the first century BC. Having been cited in volcanic discharge and the being did our, it has also become a world heritage site which is a bit of a bonus.
Possibly the most amazing thing about the villa is the general lack of tourists. I have no idea why people don’t visit the place but I’m very glad they don’t. We affectively had the place to ourselves.
The wall paintings are beautiful with lots of animals and floral motifs. Best of all, there’s very few barriers. We could walk right up to the walls and take as many photos as we wanted…which is how I managed to get a close up of Lorna’s bow tie wearing pheasant.
This was in a room which also included some circus animals performing tricks. There was a trampolining deer while another one was walking a tight rope.
Room after room after room of the most extraordinary paintings, preserved by Vesuvius so long ago and dug up by eager archaeologists some of whom were still there.
Naturally, being Weasels, we managed to work out what everything was and what it was called and how it was created. Nothing gets by the eagle eyes of Weasels…well except for things like ‘pilaris’ a word that escaped us for a while before Mr Google came to our rescue.
As well as an extraordinary array of painted rooms displaying the skills of some long forgotten interior designer, the villa featured gardens, a massive impluvium and an Olympic sized swimming pool.
We spent a goodly amount of time wandering the various rooms and dissecting the ways of wealthy Romans, stopping to refresh on occasion.
It was eventually time to go especially since beer o’clock had been and gone without replenishment for many hours. The search for an adequate, non tourist bar ensued.
We walked down decidedly unattractive streets before finding the amazingly cheap Bar Royal complete with awning and very busy road, where the beer was very cold and much appreciated. This was a vast improvement over the otherwise beer less wastelands in the opposite direction.
Having quenched our combined thirst, we then headed back to the station for the trip back.
It was so quiet on the train back to Gariboldi that John somehow managed to kill an old woman sitting next to him, who had her husband in her suitcase. Lorna, thankfully took this highly suspicious photograph.
And the day could have been spoiled by an arsehole on the Metro home who thought it right and proper to steal Darren’s wallet but, after cancelling cards and being angry for a bit, we all decided not to let some low life scum spoil our good time. Hopefully karma will dictate that the thief will never know true happiness and die in a gutter with a donkey pissing on him.
As Lorna said, it’s sad when a city lives up to it’s reputation.
And you’d think that would be enough but you’d be wrong. Given we were in Naples and given that Weasels are very much creatures of habit, we had to go to Manfredos for dinner.
This would have been fine but for the fact that we had to walk to Line 2 of the Metro and while John knew where it was he hadn’t actually walked there for 25 years and he became a bit confused with the difference between a bank and a hospital.
Still, we managed to see an awful lot of scooters driven by lunatics, not always with lights, small cars driven by one handed men with cigarettes in their mouths and phones on thier ears and thousands of death wish pedestrians, on the way.
We eventually found the train though not without a bit more annoyance when it turned out the Metro wasn’t where the trains were but a few blocks further up the street.
Finally we made it to Manfredos and had pizza, caprese salad and a couple of decanters of red wine. Except John who had lots of seafood.
Actually it was all a bit much and we were thankful for the long walk back to settle distended tummies.
Finally, after a long, long and eventful day, we sat on the balcony for an espresso and a small glass of amaro each.