Posts Tagged ‘Pozzuoli’

X is for…

X MARKS THE SPOT. (From Indiana Jones, although I think the quote is “X never marks the spot”. It’s a very vague connection but I’m a bit like Indiana Jones in this post, hence the quote.)

And so to my last day in Italy… sniffle sniffle.

Two days previously, we had tried to visit the amphitheatre in Pozzuoli and it had been closed but we really wanted to see it. After a quick breakfast at the hotel, we set out again, hoping it would be second time lucky.

And it was! Woop woop! It was so quiet. Apart from a group of school children when we first entered, we saw no other people while we there. And it was amazing. We were allowed under the stage and into all the corridors once used by the gladiators to enter the stage from underneath through trap doors.

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The cut out sections in the second floor up were used to keep cages with animals in to be released onto the stage too.

After a little while, we found a section where the corridors and stairways were accessible, although they were blocked off elsewhere. It was dark and cold and silent and I felt like I was an archaeologist, discovering it all for the first time. The Indiana Jones of the Roman world, if you will. Minus the baddies.

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By the time, we came up by the stage and seating area, it became clear that the section downstairs had never meant to be left open. It was too quiet, too secretive. But we were in by then and it was like a heady mix of discovery and disobedience. Being so quiet, there was no-one to tell us off so we kept exploring.

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We found rooms under the seating area where statues and other bits and pieces had been stored during excavations.

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Eventually, creeping about amongst all these amazing discoveries, we suddenly emerged into sunlight and were in the seating area.

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(I’m cheering an imaginary gladiator, in case you were wondering.)

After all this merriment, we were on a high and, even though we only had a few hours til we needed to be back in Naples to check out of our hotel, we went on a search for the seafront and some coffee. It took us far longer than we realised it would and by the time we got there, we barely had time to sit down before we had to start trekking back up the hill to find the station.

We asked directions at a roundabout and sped off in the direction we were told.

Now, one of two things must have happened here.

1. We were told the wrong direction.
2. We didn’t understand the directions properly.

As we walked down the road, it suddenly became really countrified. We were surrounded by greenery, there was no sound of traffic, only birds singing and we seemed to be walking out of town, not towards it. After fifteen minutes, we admitted defeat and turned back but the diversion had added half an hour on. We now had forty minutes to find the station, get a train back to Naples, get back from the station to our hotel, grab our bags and check out! We were up against it.

We ended up doing it in 43 minutes and burst through the door to reception, panting and apologising and explaining that we had been lost in Pozzuoli and we’re really sorry! Thankfully, they were horrified enough by our sweaty faces and profuse apologies that they gave us an extra hour on the room without charging.

We spent our last few hours after checking out, wandering around a nearby castle and taking photos looking over to Vesuvius…

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…before getting a taxi to the airport where, annoyingly enough, there was a problem with our plane and they had to fly a new one out from London, which meant we took off at 22.20 instead of 19.35. Airports are boring when you’ve just had three hours added onto your departure time!

Anyway, we got home without any more hiccups and have spent the last two days lying around letting our stomachs recover from the carb-and-icecream-onslaught that is Italian food! Mmmm….

U is for….

UNWILLING…

…which is how we left Capri on Monday morning. We had our fruit, yoghurt, granola and honey combo which has become our standard breakfast in Italy, checked out of our room and went to a little gelateria we had visited a few times already to get our last coffee on Capri. We then headed to the funicolare and down the hill, away from the quiet relaxing ambience of ‘our’ part of town…

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…to the crowded buzz of the port below.

Boat tickets bought, we headed sadly for our ferry and left the perfumed streets of Capri for the unknown shores of Napoli. We had read a few different things about Napoli, things like ‘dirty’, ‘run by the Mafia’ and ‘untouristy.’

I shall now give you my first impressions of Napoli.

1. Lots of graffiti. Everywhere. And I mean everywhere.
2. Lots of washing on lines hanging off people’s balconies.
3. Lots of concrete apartment blocks. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen any houses. Everything is an apartment block. Painted yellow or pink.
4. Lots of people running. Not to get places. For exercise. But not even doing it properly, like putting any effort in, just kind of plodding, like they’re running lazily for a bus or something. And not even wearing sporty clothes. Strange.

The reports about it not being touristy were right. On the waterfront, it is a little. But most other places, people are just going about their lives and there has been no nod to tourism, no sugar coating, no gelaterias sprinkled inbetween every shop. It’s gritty and, yes, a little dirty and lively. It’s a completely different kettle of fish to Capri.

But the waterfront, where we are staying, is beautiful. The water is blue, the sky is blue, our beloved island is just across the bay, tantalisingly close, as we debate throwing in the towel and just going back and staying forever.

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By the time we got to Napoli, it was afternoon and we had read about a place called Pozzuoli, with an amphitheatre better preserved than that at Capua. We were excited. We jumped on a train and headed over there.

We went first to the top of the highest hill in the town, to see the Solfatara volcano, which is semi extinct and is described as having a ‘rotten egg ambience’ in our guidebook. We didn’t need much more persuading!

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And yes, it really, really does smell like rotten eggs when you get up close to the sulfurous gases.

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As the wind changed and the steam was swept into my face, my nostrils were filled with it. The warmth of the eggrot smell travelled into my nostrils and down into my throat and the steam heated up my face. Mmmm…. Happy birthday…. Egg-face. For indeed, it was my birthday on this day. And what better in the absence of candles to blow out, than some egg-steam in my face?

After being egged out for a while, we headed back down the hill to this amphitheatre. Danda was so excited. He loves a Roman ruin. And he loves an amphitheatre. Since seeing the Colossuem in Rome last year, I had been wanting to see one where I could walk all around, unrestricted, and see the area below the stage.

We found it near the train station and looked in through the side gates…

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It looked fab. We found the main gate and…. Come on, put your hand up if you got it? I’ll give you a clue, it happened twice in yesterday’s post… Yes, you at the back in the red, would you like to guess what happened when we got to the gate? Yes, well done! You got it! It was closed. Closed.

So we got on the train, came back to Napoli and dealt with our disappointment by eating bruscetta and pizza.

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