La Dolce Vita!- Italy

As I’ve had quite a few people pop into the shop recently asking me about Italy, and how my love for this magnificent place started I thought I’d do a post on this. I first visited Rome when I was 16, and I immediately fell in love. If Jet2 had gone bust there and then I wouldn’t have cared, as far as I’d be concerned I’d be stuck in a little heaven on earth.

I first remember walking down Piazza Navona with a lovely Italian man and his guitar singing ‘como e’ bella ce’ la luna brille e’ strette, strette como e’ tutta bella a passeggiare, sotto il cielo di Roma’ (yes I even know the Italian words for this song). This set the tone for what would become a lifelong love of the Serenissima. I turned the corner and was greeted by this:
fountain-of-four-rivers-by-bruce_of_oz

Oh Bernini, you are a wonder of Italy. This was probably the moment I realised I wanted to study Classical Civilisation, Art and all things Italian. I was mesmerised by the craftsmanship of this, so you can imagine my reaction to Michelangelo later. Very quickly I had learnt Rome had two wonderful aspects to it: Handsome Italian men singing and beautiful works of art. What a perfect combination.

As I visited Rome again and again, my love grew more for Italy, and I wanted to explore other areas.

IMG_4556

Venice and Florence were next to be ticked off my list. I was again impressed by the architecture in Florence by Brunelleschi and the quirky, small streets of Venice that seemed to reveal Palladian secrets on every corner. The 3 big cities of Italy were all unique in their own ways, and I couldn’t get enough of them. If I wasn’t searching for the cheapest Ryanair flight (being a student) I was constantly reading up on Titian’s, Veronese’s, Michelangelo’s works. I took up Italian in my spare time, and even took to the kitchen to practice Italian cooking. Nothing tastes quite as sweet as the real deal though, but I have got pretty close!

After these cities, I took to Naples and Genoa, two generally overlooked places in Italy. I would say go to Naples if you’d like the most amazing pizza of your life (this being where Pizza was invented). Genoa has a beautiful historic centre that contrasts with it’s port which is often a stopping point for cruises.

I suppose there were so many places in Italy to visit I couldn’t even think where to continue. Luckily for me, my family chose for me and took me to Lucca in Tuscany. We stayed in an Italian villa just outside of Torres meaning we could only communicate with locals as very few tourists were in the area. This was itself a challenge with only speaking ‘un poco italiano’. But this was a beautiful base to explore lovely Lucca and also Pisa from Italy’s great rail links. As we drove through the Tuscan countryside a lot on this trip the next time we visited we hoped to return to a similar region.

Indeed we did, staying just outside Greve in Chianti. Again I awoke to the singing hills of Tuscany with a smile on my face everyday. I got to taste many Chianti wines this trip which gave me a little taste of a rich, warm culture I was dying to always return to. I also visited my first hot springs in Monticiano and Sovicille which were amazingly well hid from tourists with only this sign to help us:

IMG_5011

These amazing little gems were everywhere in Italy, and I felt lucky to be uncovering them one place after another…

sorrento

Ahhhh ‘il dolce far niente’ was the phrase I was taught during my stay in Sorrento. ‘The sweetness of doing nothing’ and gazing out into the beautiful bay of Naples. Bella bella bella!!! Capri is gorgeous and so was Massa Lubrense were I made a fool of myself trying to park a rented boat and got called ‘STUPIDO’ by lots of locals. Oh well, all the fun of travelling, and I was beaming ear to ear having just steered the Amalfi Coast and the world around me that I couldn’t have cared less for being a ‘Stupido’. I was in bliss!

I suppose this has told you a little/or a lot about why I have fallen in love with Italy and so many places over the years. I love the culture of this place, their love and respect for their own families… by this I mean their families are everything and it’s so important to them to cherish each other. The food is obviously amazing I don’t need to tell you that. Other than that, the wonderful art this place has produced has changed the world, and I mean that sincerely, as has it’s architecture. It was once the centre for law and philosophy with Cicero being well established in Rome. Home to some of the greatest military men of history- aye aye Pompey the great! OH yes I love this place.

There are so many places I have fallen in love with over the years with my affair with Italy. I couldn’t possibly mention them all in one post!

If you have any questions about Italy, please comment below and thank you for reading!

Ciao Bella!!

tuscany

(here is a token photo of me happy on a swing in Tuscany after 1 or 2 glasses of chianti!)

Violet

Interrupting the silence…

So I’ve been a little quiet recently, and I must apologise for that. Big things have been happening for me in the past few months and in order to process that I’ve had to cut back on this blog. Well I finally got a job- something amazing- something I’m really passionate about! Dum dum dummmmm! I’m working/training up as a travel agent. I know what you’re thinking… ‘bah! Well you sit in all day and don’t do the travelling’ well I say to you fools… RUBBISH! It’s brilliant. Everyday ALL day I am inspired by the knowledgable people around me who are truly interested in their specialists areas in travel. I can sit and talk for hours about all of the experiences many of the members of staff at my work have encountered. For example there is one girl there who actually lived in Dubai! She knows the place back to front- and from being not that interested in the Middle East I am now completely sold to go after talking to her! As I say there are such parallels in the company though- as another member of Staff who has years of experience in Disney knows everything there is to know about the place! He even has his own webpage and I urge you all to go and visit him at MyDisneyHoliday.com

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 20.18.44

I know this shy’s away from what I normally discuss here but thought I would give you and all my readers an update on what I’ve been up to and how I feel from being on one end of the counter of the travel agents to behind the computer screen…

Well in all honestly, I used to think I was a bit of a know-it-all with travel, clever if you like. But I didn’t realise the amount of preparation and careful consideration travel agents (or at least my work) put into their holidays. I used to enjoy making the holidays myself but now I feel I’d prefer knowing it was in the careful hands of someone who knows exactly what they’re doing. I’ve already received countless nightmare calls from people (who have not booked with us) and have made fatal mistakes on their own bookings and want us to fix this. I know I sound as though I’m giving you a lesson, but booking through an agent can give you a lot of security in the event of problems on your booking- and most of the time (if they’re like us) they can price match anything you find online- if not suggest better accommodation at that price and provide expert knowledge in the area.

So I’ll tell you a little about the company I’m working for this post, and will return to my usual covering of cities/countries/places/advice on my next. But do not fear, there will be heaps of useful info in this post.

andrewearle

Well the company is called Andrew Earle’s… I’ve attached the cute logo for you to peruse, and surprisingly it’s owned by Andrew Earle- to me a ‘local lad’ who has come up with extremely clever business idea and made a success of himself in a not so famous city. Our ideas are simple- we want to produce good quality holidays at competitive prices. We are ABTA approved and hold our own ATOL Licence, meaning we can tailor make holidays- saving you both money and giving you the trust you need in us to provide you with the best holiday possible.

Although we know many people just want a ‘cheap deal’ we generally try to explain that it’s a holiday- you should be enjoying yourself and therefore spending a little more can make a huge difference in your enjoyment factor. We specialise in USA holidays but cater for anyone going generally anywhere. For example I had both Thailand and Benidorm enquiries on the same day (it literally is that diverse). This is brilliant though as every day is a new challenge- within my first few weeks I had a scary big itinerary through Australia to try piece together- I learnt a lot about Australia that day!

So far I am loving it, I love sharing my experiences of places with potential customers and hope they benefit from what I have learnt over the years. That’s all I have to say on this matter today.

Any questions about this? Please comment below!

photo 3 (2)

(here is a picture of me in New York in February just to break up the text a little!)

Websites to go view: MyDisneyHoliday.com      and     http://www.andrewearles.com

Ciao for now,

Violet

Portofino!

Using the very helpful notes provided by my family I am aiming to do a post on Portofino today. Portofino is located in Italy, in the province of Genoa on the Italian Riviera. The place itself is a small fishing town, but now a main holiday spot for celebrity visitors. If you just take a moment to google this place you can instantly see how beautiful it is, and this is what my parents were first met with after a long tiresome journey driving around the Italian loopey roads (bet it was worth it). 

view of Portofino - beautiful town of Ligurian coast, Italy

Where to Stay:

Domina Home Piccolo:

Prices are around £269 per night for a Classic double or Twin room and this allows you to use the great facilities of the hotel which includes the private beach (as there is no beach around this area). i’ll base this review on the room my parents stayed in which was room 208, as my mum described ‘it had a fantastic sea view, with views of yachts and the blue ocean’. On top of the pleasant views, they also described the sounds of grasshoppers rubbing their legs together which both woke them up and sent them to sleep! 

The breakfast here is also good. With a vast range of options- continental breakfast of course, then scrambled eggs, bacon, yoghurts, cakes, biscuits, fruits, juices and good coffee. They also had fresh croissants with jams!  It’s worth adding this into your cost to save money if visiting. 

 

What to do:

Visit S. Fruttuoso on the ferry for 11.50 return and visit the quaint little cove with a Benedictine Monastery built by the Doria family in the 1200s. There is also an octagon bell tower with a cloister and mausoleum of the Doria family. Well worth a visit as you can only see this via the boat journey and is a nice day out (slightly cheaper food here as well than Portofino). 

Visit S. Margherita for a cost of 1.80 each way on bus- which rooms approximately every 15 minutes from Portofino. It takes about 25 minutes for the journey and once there you can visit the beaches or settle for something to eat. This place seems to have a few more options than Portofino on restaurants and activities for families. From a little online research it seems the churches here are also extremely beautiful and well worth a visit. (Chiesa Di San Giacomo Di Corte + Chiesa di Santa Margherita d’Antiochia – Santuario di Nostra Signora della Rosa) Click for more info!

Visit Genoa by taking the bus to S. Margherita which goes all the way to the train station then swap there for the Train for 8 euros. Here there are more cultural excursions such as Galleries and Museums to visit. For example: the Museo di Palazzo Reale in Via Balbi (Royal Palace) costs 4 euros each and has a beautiful mirrored gallery in there. 

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 20.50.08

 

Where to Eat:

Wine Bar Jolly:

The nice thing about Portofino is that every time you sit for a drink you seem to be offered food! I don’t mean like a full course meal but more like snacks and nibbles to keep you going (although the portion size is enough to fill you all day). Wine Bar Jolly brought out a tray of crisps, carrots, olives, tomatoes and breads before evening ordering a main meal! This place is great value for money in the area as it offers shrimp and salami skewers for 28 euros.. much cheaper then other places in the area. 

esterno_

 

El Portico:

Probably not as reasonable as Jolly but not bad again for the area. A skewer of Prawns is 30 euros along with a litre of house wine for 12 euros. This restaurant is pretty interested in where and how its placed. It’s up the slope from the harbour side. The tables are covered in red check and it’s opposite the Ristorante da Nichola Pizzeria.  Seems to have more of a buzz then other places in the area and a few more families. 

 

Trattoria Baicin: 

Down Via Algeria in S. Margherita. Here you can get the classic Turistica Menus- 3 courses for 23 euros! No more I need to say on that! 

Anything else?

Well, the weather is stunning. Beautifully hot.

You’ll find there seems to be a bit more of an interest in self-appearance here with the Italians being fond of the ‘Bella Figura’- that is ‘first impression’. So these Italians look particularly elegant in order to create a great first impression. On top of this the verb Promenggio applies here- to walk or parade. Italians like to dress up early evening and parade their best clothes up and down the street- in a way this is nice. It has an elegance to it. 

 

Ciao for now!

 

Violet

Toronto (Part 2) Shops, Sights and Sports

To round off my posting on Toronto I decided to cover a ‘part 2′ of the trip in order to fit in all of the activities carried out. 

Shops:

Now I thought New York was the place for shopping… but Toronto is. On every street there are fashion crazed people or huge department stores to explore. For those of you who have been to Toronto you will know it has the world famous Eaton Centre. 

It’s open Monday-Friday 10am-9:30pm and Saturday 9:30am-9:30pm with shorter hours on Sunday 10am-7pm. So you’ll have plenty opportunity to explore this within any hours you can fit into your day. If you can name it, it’s probably here. Not only is there an abundance of shops, but also a huge eatery for you to recuperate mid-shop. 

One of the coolest stores in here is called LIDS. Where you can pick up a Blue Jays baseball cap, or another fashionable piece that you will notice so many people wear within the city. 

Find more here: http://www.torontoeatoncentre.com/EN/directory/Pages/ListStoresA-Z.aspx

On top of the larger department stores like this, I also became really fond of the shop ‘Winners’. For us British, this was like bargain central. I couldn’t go in one of these shops without buying anything. I suppose you’d call it the equivalent to TK Maxx, but as it’s in Canada, the brands from USA and there are soooooo much cheaper. I was sure to stock up on Nike, Jordans and Billionaire Boys Club for my boyfriend. 

Sights:

We actually pre-booked a helicopter tour of Toronto via Groupon for about $30 each. Which was ridiculously cheap compared to any other helicopter tour I’d looked at for New York. This itself was amazing. We crossed over to the small airport on the island via Ferry and walked to our own private lounge (very first class ooh!) Whilst we waited we were weighed and checked in to confirm where abouts we would sit on the helicopter and given brief safety instructions. Before you knew it we were given those famous ear muffs to mustle out noise and were whisked into the air. I must say this was the smoothest ride I had ever encountered in the air! I was expecting my stomach to flip, but nothing! It was amazing! I was so captivated by the view it took me about 4 minutes to realise just how high we were in the air! The ride itself was 7 minutes (which seems short) but it was plenty of time to enjoy this amazing experience. Here is the website of the tour we used: http://www.helitours.ca/

helic

 

TIP: Look out for deals on Helicopter tours like my sister did on Groupon or other websites. If you do find a bargain- BOOK! I’d also ring to confirm your flight a few days beforehand- we had little contact with our Rep and found our flight had been cancelled due to air shows- they luckily fitted us in at a later time, but we’d never have known had we not checked!

 

The Art Gallery of Toronto (AGO) is one of the most beautiful, modern galleries I have ever visited. Not only was I amazed at the vast difference in works (everything from Picasso to Rubens, Neue Sachlichkeit works to Pop Art) but the building itself was beautiful. I would recommend this gallery to anyone with an interest in art. Particularly those fond of modern works- the collection will surprise you!

Normal entry is $19.50 per adult/ $11 Student/ $16 Senior/ $11 Youth and free for children. It’s opening times are 10am to 5:30pm most days with the exception of a later closing time Wednesday 8:30pm.

Find more here: http://www.ago.net/

TIP: There is a funded evening every Wednesday at this gallery- so you can get free entry from 6pm onwards!

 

art gallery to

Sports:

Two things I wanted to cover under the category Sports. One being an actual sports game and the other the world famous Sports Bar. Firstly, I was so lucky to see a baseball game (Blue Jays v. Yankees) and really got into this sport. Knowing absolutely NOTHING about baseball, a kind man next to me took the time to explain how the game worked and point out notable players. After 2/3 innings, I was hooked! I must say it seemed so much more of a social sport than what I’m used to seeing. Most people sit with a Bud in their hands chatting whilst the game goes on. There are also quirky little competitions for the audience to participate in during the games (in between the mexican waves) which really made this a fun experience. 

The Real Sports Bar & Grill was an experience unlike any other. I’d never seen anything like this! Walls of screens focussing in on any games/sports everywhere! The food was AMAZING. The hot wings are a must for any visitor. I had these then a huuuuuge Real Sports Burger with Swiss Cheese mmmmm :)

TIP: Get the Thai Sweet Chilli wings (the signature wing of this place)

photo1

See more here: http://realsports.ca/BarAndGrill/Toronto/

 

All in all I loved Toronto. I couldn’t even cover everything in these postings on what I did. For now this will be my comments on the place. However if I return, I may add more ;)

Thanks for reading, 

Violet 

‘Toronto’s a delightful city’ – Nellie McKay

Travelling to Toronto:

I thought I’d add a little on my general journeying to Toronto as you can imagine it was a long way travelling from Yorkshire. So getting to the airport took 2 hours (thank you Joe for the lift), then there was the 2 hours to pass (see previous post for tips), then a 7 and a half hour journey to Toronto Pearson international. All in all it took 11 and a half hours to get from Hull to Toronto Airport. Then another 25 minutes to my sister’s place. The flight itself was pretty pleasant, basic (no tv entertainment screens) but the flight attendants were pleasant and frequently asked if we’d like refreshments. I travelled on part of Air Canada’s Rouge scheme, offering frequent flights throughout summer from Manchester to Toronto. Although I’d read bad reviews on this service I couldn’t fault it. If you didn’t have anything to entertain yourself you could easily download their free app onto your smartphone or iPad which had films/tv shows/music on to pass the time, or alternatively rent an iPad for $10 for the flight. I had taken my laptop on board and loved the fact each seat had a plug point meaning you could charge phones/laptops throughout the journey. Once we had arrived in Toronto we got a taxi into the centre which is not the only option if you’d like to save money. My sister said you could get a subway for $3! 

TIP: Declare everything you need to on your forms given to you on the plane. Even if one bar of chocolate. At least then you’re covered no matter what. Security will cross it off if they do not feel it is important. 

Where to Stay: Thompson Hotel in Downtown Toronto

Rooms cost $314 per night for a King Superior Room. 

Okay, I don’t play fair. I’m staying in the residential part of the hotel with my sister and her boyfriend so can’t comment too much on the hotel rooms themselves. But the hotel amenities (which we can use) are insane! The pool has one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen from a rooftop. It has a bar up there so you can sip on your cocktail and soak in the sun watching over the skyline of Toronto. 

The hotel also has a gym you can use and several restaurants/diners to fill your stomachs. Just lovely. 

thompsonhotel-usa

 

Where to eat:

Wabora Sushi:

For some reason, we all had a craving for sushi. Now we ordered the SMALL boat, but even this was very large for the 3 of us as you can see! It had a mixture of all sorts so is great for people who like to try some new things. The atmosphere of the place was also really cool. Dimmed lights with a cooler vibe. 

Found at:

550 Wellington St. W, Toronto, ON M5V 1H5 See more: http://www.waborasushi.com/

20140826_020051

 

Hot Dog stand on King West:

Looking for something cheaper? Look no further. At $3 a dog, you can stuff your faces with this street food. My sister recommended we try one particular red umbrella lady’s hot dogs. As her stand had no name this is the only way I could identify her to you. That and she had jars of toppings next to her grill. 

Sights so far:

CN Tower

58 Seconds in an elevator and you’re on top of the world. A $30 entrance fee and some courage and you’re able to stand looking out over the vast land of Canada. You can see the lakes that surround Toronto and the huge amount of construction that is currently happening here. Go here if you wish to get a 360 degree view of the city from a completely different angle. 

 

Lakeshore

Initially we intended to go for a morning run along the front. But it ended up being more of a walk. But wow! What a beautiful city. It feels so strange to me that these huge areas of nature are juxtaposed against these huge buildings. I suppose I was expecting some kind of copy of New York when I came here. It’s nothing like that. It’s so much cooler. I love that in 10 minutes you can be at polar opposites of scenery. You can partake in totally different activities. From paddle boarding to the brave brave sky walk around the CN Tower. 

 

Anything else:

Nice one nails

Looking to get pampered? Nice one nails on 675 King St West were brilliant. They fixed my poor toes and gave them life again! The place was also extremely clean. It is $30 for an express mani + pedi which is crazy cheap considering in England we can pay up to £30 for just one of these. The people here are also great. They make sure you’re relaxed first and asked a few time if things like the colour of the nails were ok. The best thing about here is that you get to sit in those great big massage chairs! You can also take the control yourself so I had a good play working on different parts of my back.

 

Walking around

As I always say one of my favourite things to do is when visiting an attraction to look at things on the journey. Shop windows, restaurants, coffee bars, or in Toronto’s case cool Ping Pong/Table Tennis hangouts have caught my eye on just a few walks. 

 

Jet lag 

An unfortunate side effect of any longer journeys. Any traveller knows you have to fight this.. well I surrender! I managed to stay awake till 10pm Canada time after being up since 6am England time. Luckily this was perfect as I slept fully throughout the night and woke up at 8:30am. Meaning I’ve temporarily tricked my body clock into thinking it is with the time. I’m sure when I go back to England it will flux. 

In the next few days I’ll be going to Niagara falls, going on a helicopter ride and going to a Blue Jays Baseball game!!! So I shall be posting a Toronto Part 2 after these!!

 

Ciao for now, 

Violet

Come Fly With Me (Some Musings on Flying)

Wherever you’re going, most likely you’re going to use an airport to get there. At some point in our modern lives, most people will encounter airports. I wouldn’t say they’re the most pleasant place in the world, but hey it means you’re going somewhere and that’s generally exciting! So here’s a few tips to make the transition a lot easier:

  1. Security: So I picked what I always find the worst part of airports. I don’t know what it is about this part but I’m always on edge! I suppose I instantly become paranoid I will get beeped for the metal on my shoes or an earring. It’s just pure paranoia. To make this easier I usually put my shoes straight onto the tray now along with any belts and jewellery and empty my pockets before they even ask. You’ve probably been stood in those silly rows of tape like cattle for about 20 minutes so really you just want to get through as quick as possible. As unpleasant as this part may be always remember how important the safety of all passengers is. I try to make it as easy for the security guards but taking the actions I’ve listed. More to this, I tend to research prohibited items via my air carriers website beforehand just to make sure there will be no problems along the way, you’re going on holiday after all! It’s time to relax. 
  2. Dealing with long flights/changes: HYGIENE! The first thing that comes to my mind. I understand after 36 hours no one is gonna look or feel their best. So in order to help this why not have a cheeky sink shower in the toilets. Yeah it’s not the best, but it will freshen you up a little for the rest of the journey, and people around you will be thanking you for it (they just don’t know it yet). There is nothing worse than being sat next to a smelly friend on a 14 hour flight. Obviously after a long flight then a change you’re going to be tired. Try to get as much sleep on the aircraft as you can, it will help your body relax and cope with the journey. If you can’t sleep, whilst on board do some stretch exercises with your legs and relaxation techniques. This will mentally calm your body down making you more relaxed for the jouney. The stretches also help avoid getting blood clots in your legs. Simply lift your legs, flex your feet back and forth slowly and return your feet to the ground. Repeat this as necessary.
  3. Visas and appropriate travelling precautions: Talk to your travel agent about it. One of the reasons I stress it’s easier to book through an agency.. you’ll find they will tell you everything you need. Visas are really important for certain countries of travel. For example in Russia my Visa was thoroughly checked and anyone without one was sent to a room for about 3 hours of interrogation… no one wants that on holiday. Make sure you don’t require any vaccinations for where you’re visiting, again if you’re unsure check with your travel agency or your doctor. I know some of my friends have been to Thailand recently without vaccs, but when I went I had to have Hep A/Typhoid. I suppose it’s a risk you have to also assess yourself, based on your current state of health. But in any case, better to be safe than sorry! Finally, get travel insurance! You don’t know what could happen, but just be prepared!
  4. Tax Reclaims: Keep your receipts! When travelling, if you purchase anything ask for a VAT receipt. At the airport you will find a Tax Reclaim area where you can take these receipts to reclaim extra money you’ve paid on top of your product. Always worth trying this cause it could save you money!
  5. Passing the time: Finally, most flights require passengers to be at the airport 2 hours before departure if not more. This can be frustrating if you’ve spent 2 hours getting to the airport and you’ve therefore become a little bored along the journey. Therefore I cannot stress enough the importance of a good book, or a game to play. If you have family members, they will probably be as bored as you are, so make conversation, play some cards and take a book on the place you’re going to to read. Then you can use the rest of your time to explore the shops in the airport and fill up on duty free. 
  6. Delays/Airlines: I love a good budget airline, but you get what you pay for. I recently travelled back from Tenerife with Jet2 and was delayed for over 2 hours on my returning journey (think it was 3 hours and a half). Make sure you know your travel insurance policy and have it to hand. By law, airlines are supposed to produce refreshment vouchers if delayed over 2 hours. Jet2 however, did not feel this rule applied to them. I am currently working on this dispute with them as all of the shops within the airport had shut with only water machines available for those with change. Not really acceptable for some of the passengers on board. In any case, inform your insurance if you feel your airline is not acting appropriately. 

That’s all for now, 

Violet 

Pompeii

To one of the most interesting places in the world: Pompeii.

Of course places as special as this come at a cost in today’s world. The entrance fee is 11 euros for adults and 5.50 for children/concessions. It’s opening hours change throughout the year from November 1st- March 31st it is 8:30am-5pm, and during Summer April 1st- October 31st longer opening hours of 8:30am-7:30pm.

To sound like Joanna Lumley, ‘this place is truly fascinating’. Pompeii holds relics and paintings that show how its environment was before the famous eruption of Mount Vesuvius. It looked a fertile land, with olive groves and vineyards, a wall painting of Bacchus (the God of wine) shows him covered in Pompeian grapes and with a snake along his foot which is a symbol of plenty. This is very different from what we see now. Pompeii is almost desert-like. There are many paintings that depict that fatal day in 79AD when the city became an image of gas, mud and ashes. It was covered in this desertess like stage until in 1599, 1500 years after the eruption, when people began uncovering it.  In 1748, Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre rediscovered it and it has since then been the work of Archaeologists to uncover all that remains of this historic town.

So what can we see now? Well this is a regular tourist destination for 2.5 million people every year. We’ve come a long way since it first began its uncovering and now the majority of the town is visible to the public. Before I get carried away with the architecture and art in this place I will say this is a well organised tourist spot. Of course many sights are monitored, but mainly you can go explore as you wish, go in and out of houses, some you can touch the walls.

TIP: It gets very hot here, so please take lots of water if you visit. I don’t really remember finding a cafe to sit in although according to the website there are a few.

pompeii map

This is one of the clearest maps I can find on the place itself. Of course, this takes a little vocabulary research to understand what most of these places are. Some you can guess like Antiteatro- Amphitheatre. Anything with Casa is a house which you’ll find are some of the most interesting and telling places on the whole siting. Most of these houses are split into the Vestiblumum (space in front of the house), Atrium (kind of like a corridor), Tablinum (a reception room), Peristilium (courtyard), Cubicula (bedrooms), Triclinium (Dining room) and finally the Triclinian (Living room). All very complicated if you haven’t read a few books on Pompeii to understand this. I suppose we take from this that the people living here were very civilised, they had developed these houses. What’s more interesting is that as we decorate our houses with wallpaper and paint, they were also doing their own interior design. There were 4 types of wall painting styles:

  • Incrustation: Walls divided into coloured rectangles on top of the stucco layer… this looks a lot like marble inlay and would imitate wealth
  • Architecture in perspective: Plinths, columns and cornices were painted onto the walls. This in essence symbolises structure and expansion. I suppose it’s like the modern day use of a mirror, it could make a room look bigger than it is.
  • The real wall: The above without perspective. This reminds me a lot of the Egyptian walls I commented on in my other posting.
  • Architectural illusionism: Highly defined architectural elements in bright colours- the most popular style of wall painting at Pompeii.

 

house of vettii

You get an idea of the 4th style from this image of one of the rooms in House of the Vettii. Here you can also some beautifully preserved fresco paintings- yes there were people working on these many years before Raphael and Michelangelo.

This is one of the few places where the art feels truly alive as some represent portraits of the owners of these houses. The most famous is a work that depicts the household with a book and pen. This perhaps gives us more information than initially we might accept on these people. They wanted to be respected and intelligent. When I saw this work it suddenly made everything so real to me.

portraitpompeii

Of course this makes it more difficult and upsetting when you wander around this mystic place. You can explore the bakeries, places of worship, wander the cobbled streets and almost hear the carts trekking along the path alongside you. It felt very real. This becomes even more shocking when you see the remains of the people who lived here. Not only do you encounter their household items which are stacked high, but also their bodily remains which are preserved under the mud plaster that covered them. It’s truly shocking. It’s hard to imagine that everything was wiped so quickly. If you’re uncomfortable with this part of the attraction, you can avoid it and continue exploring the other remains of Pompeii such as the very cheeky Brothel.

The Roman word for Brothel was Lupanar which actually translates to wolf’s den. This den was a place that Pompeii’s saucy secrets were hidden and have now been uncovered. I warn you, it’s very crude and my Grandma was offended! There are wall paintings of encounters within this place (to put it prudently) and several graffiti marks rating the services here. It’s a very interesting building to explore indeed! If you don’t fancy the Brothel you can visit the Baths and read up on early treatments for ailments. These are beautiful rounded buildings that can be enjoyed by any members of the public any age.

I full heartedly recommend any of you go to Pompeii if you visit this part of Italy. I’m yet to see Herculaneum, so if any of you have any thoughts on there please share.

That’s all for now,

Violet