Sunday and an early start. Up at 6:30, breakfast then walk to the bus terminus for the guided tour pick up.
The coach was full so there must have been around 50 of us. Quite a large group.
Our guide, Lucia, was excellent. On the journey along the Sorrentine peninsula she told us about the history of the area we were passing through and also about the history of the Vesuvius eruptions and the modern day monitoring systems in place to warn of any imminent seismic activity.
The coach dropped us off at the ticket booth at the 1000 metre point and most of us then walked the rest of the way up to the crater. There was a man handing out sticks which we found invaluable. You are expected to give him a few coins when you return the sticks on the way back down.
It was around 10 a.m. when we started the walk but already quite hot. The path was steep and the terrain obviously a little slippery due to the volcanic ash. The views, however, were incredible.
It took an hour to walk up, peer down into the crater then walk back down to the waiting coach .
We were then driven to the town of Pompeii for a one hour lunch stop and to stock up on more water before the afternoon tour of the Pompeii ruins.
The site of the Pompeii excavations is huge, covering several acres and divided into different sections . We only had 2 hours for our tour so we only got to see the highlights.
The original inhabitants were killed by suffocation rather than by burning as the lava flow did not reach the town. Instead it was buried by around 5 metres of ash and pumice. As the organic matter (bodies etc) gradually decayed voids were left in the ash which were later filled with plaster when discovered during the excavations. A few of the casts of the victims are now displayed in glass cabinets on the site.
The remains of the various buildings that still stand are fascinating and several still have fragments of the mosaics and frescoes which have been preserved.
Our guide pointed out several carved signs on various walls and stones that originally indicated the purpose of the buildings, e.g. shops, baths etc. This sign, below, was in evidence in various locations dotted around and was apparently used to indicate the direction of the nearest brothel.
The afternoon was incredibly hot and we had started to flag by 3 p.m. when the tour began to wind down. The air conditioned coach was a welcome sight.
Back at the hotel we showered then sat out on our little terrace for a welcome glass of fizz before dinner then an early night.