I went to the camping shop this morning to get some breakfast supplies. The middle aged man who seems to run that and the restaurant was there and much enamoured of felix. He doesn't speak a word of English and cones across as a little simple but is very sweet and has to hold and kiss felix whenever he sees him! I got some sweet pastries that didn't go down very well, and some bread to serve with scrambled eggs which was more popular.
Today was a designated sightseeing day, but as it was felix's naptime as we set off we headed for Pompei rather than the nearby Paestum.
It was just over an hours trip to get there, and we parked up in the same carpark as when I was here with Mel and Teena. It was odd to remember that, as I was pregnant with Emily at the time! It hasn't changed too much since then: still loads of souvenir stalls out the front, they've finished the new entrance which is steep but nice, and there are neater but fewer signposts inside directing you to interesting sites. I couldn't remember if we had an audioguide last time or not. It was definitely easier without a pusher, all those cobblerocks (bigger than stones!) and the chariot speed hump rocks to clamber over. It's amazing to me that there is still such concrete (parson the pun) evidence of life so long ago. The wheel ruts in the stones...incredible. The girls were interested, especially Emily, about the story of what had happened nearly 2 thousand years ago and the volcano itself. Don't think she comprehends time though. We visited the stadium and climbed the stairs into the seating, imagining gladiators, and the temples of Isis and other gods. We manages to trek all the way over to the arena which was bigger, but I think less impressive than the stadium. There seems to be a lot of restoration work going on (perhaps due to the blame on berlisconi for lack of investment in antiquities) and access to some of the main houses is limited. I hope they keep it 'as is' rather than rebuilding and turning it into a recreated Pompei village.
Everyone had almost had enough by then so we just stopped by the Forum where all the artefacts are being kept, and the baths. Of course most of the artefacts are amphoras and various other bits of pottery, but there are also some petrified figures still there. They are very moving. One figure is sitting with knees up and hands over face, as though they knew something terrible was happening but didn't even attempt to run. Hopefully it was a mercifully quick ending. The baths are an incredible piece of design but unfortunately were completely overrun with pushy tour groups so we only visited briefly. I eavesdropped on an English speaking guide in one of the rooms and learnt a little about the steam room. The floor and walls were tiled so that they could heat the floor from underneath (?fire). Water drizzled down from the roof would turn to steam on contact with the hot tiles - voilà! I was very impressed.
After driving back to our campsite we decided to have dinner out, but do you think we could find a restaurant?! We're in Italy for crying out loud!! Either they're all closed for the season or nobody eats out. We ended up at a little place opposite Paeatum which was simple but fine. Most of our attempts to try good, authentic local cuisine have been thwarted here of all countries. Anyways, was an interesting day. Aiming for an early start tomorrow as have booked the ferry from civitivecchia.
Almost forgot it was Halloween today! On our ice-cream hunt yesterday the girls and I saw some decorated Halloween biscuits in the local pasticcheria which I promises to buy for them. They of course reminded me all day so on our way to dinner we stopped to buy some. They had biscuits decorated as ghosts, pumpkins, spiderwebs complete with spider, witches hats and other spooky variations. It turned out that they looked better than they tastes but it was according Halloween treat!