Saturday 9 January 2016

A View to a Villa


Day two was the big one. I planned to see Pompeii in the afternoon but first I went via the Villa di San Marco, one of the 'stabiae' (and unfortunately the only one which was open). To say it was unmarked and difficult to find would be an understatement. I caught the train to a non-descript Italian suburb (from where you could only get a train heading in one direction, away from Naples for some reason) and had to wander through backstreets and along the side of a highway for 20 minutes, following a vague map I had screenshotted on my iPhone (I didn't have any Internet).

It was a pretty rough neighbourhood


After eventually turning down a dirt driveway into a farm for a few hundred meters, walking around the farm house and navigating behind the barn I found a small staircase heading down to the ancient villa. They probably couldn't have done a better job of stopping people from finding it unless they hung a big sign out the front saying "Beware the Leopard".


Obviously the Toyota Yaris should have been my first clue


Anyway, it was totally worth it. The Villa di San Marco was possibly even better preserved than the villa at Oplonti and was even more ostentatious.


Not a bad view from the backyard



Before I went to the Villa di San Marco, I'd read a review online from someone who said parts of the villa feel like the original occupants could have just left and be in the next room. Obviously that sounded dumb because its been empty 2000 years but after actually going, I have to admit that parts of it do feel that way.


After that, I caught a train back to the ruins of old Pompeii (with great difficulty; see above RE: the one direction train station). Pompeii was... alright. Maybe it was the weather which started to get cold and rainy after I arrived or maybe I was all ruined out by that point or maybe it definitely was the thousands of people wandering around even though its exactly the opposite of the peak tourist season which spoiled it for me. The ruins are definitely more impressive in the sense that they are much bigger and more expansive. Pompeii was a much larger city than Herculaneum and the size and scope of the ruins definitely show this, even though they're generally not particularly well preserved. Also disappointing was the fact that nearly everything was sealed off so visitors couldn't explore inside the buildings. In the rare instance that visitors were able to go inside, the crowds lining up out the door made being inside an almost unbearable experience.


It had a pizzeria in the ruins though

I went to great lengths to try and keep people out of my photos

Except for when I didn't


It's quite the body of work



Either way, I was incredibly impressed with everything I saw in the ancient sights around Naples. Naples itself... Meh. I don't like not liking a place but everyone I've spoken to agrees with me on this. Naples is worth spending some time in but not for its own sake. It's proximity to Vesuvius, the ancient roman sites, the Amalfi coast and the isle of Capri make Naples a textbook example of "location, location, location".





One last minute thing, after an excellent hosteling experience in Napoli, I came back to Rome for one of the weirdest. The hostel I stayed at in Rome on New Year's Eve was an objectively pretty crappy one. I was always cold, the water barely worked and half the rooms were missing some or all of the light globes. Even still, it was cheap, the people were nice, it was well located and it was cheap so. I booked in for another night when Icame back from Naples.


When I got back to Rome, I stood outside the hostel for 10 minutes knocking on the door and ringing the bell and getting no response until someone who had been there on New Year's Eve, Leila, arrived back at th hostel with a key. I turned out that not only had the population of the entire hostel dwindled down to about 8 people, the hostel staff had mysteriously told everyone that he had to go out at lunchtime two days before and never returned. Not only had he not returned, no staff had come to take his place at all. Whats more Leila, who was only in Rome on holiday, had taken over checking people in and out, giving out keys and taking bookings and acting as hotel reception. Just a few of us had the run of the entire hostel and,ecause there were no actual staff, I didn't even end up paying for my stay. 2/4 nights free accomodation so far wasn't a bad start to my trip.


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