Thursday, January 28, 2010

Italy Day 7: Pompeii, Sorrento

This is a repost of my 2007 trip to Italy with my mom, brother, sister and Aunt.

Another not-so-early morning, as we got up and boarded the bus at 8. Notice I haven't mentioned breakfast the past couple entries? That's 'cause they were mostly unmemorable. Nothing to write home about. But free!
We drove to Pompeii (six hours away) and for some reason took a whirlwind tour through the ruins. Honestly, it was so fast I didn't have much time to be impressed. It was neat to see that they had pocket doors, fast-food, shops, and ... vomitorium. Yes, I saw one! What I did appreciate were the murals on the walls. That paint could last centuries ...

Also ... penises everywhere. On walls, chiseled into floors, you name it. Apparently the Pompeiians were very perverted people. I didn't see any, but I guess there were naughty drawings everywhere back in the day. Hedonists, you see. The interesting fact I learned about living in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius (which, by the way, people still do! There are cities halfway up the side of the still-active volcano! You'd think they'd learn!): There are dogs everywhere. Animals sense catastrophic events, and when the dogs start to go crazy, people know to get out of the way.

Actually, that was a slow day for me. After leaving Pompeii, we drove to Sorrento, along the Bay of Naples. Naples has a reputation of being rife with the mafia, and it looks like that. It's dirty and run-down ... but still quaint. If that makes sense. The bay was pretty, but the most striking impression I had was a feeling of relief to be back on the water. Like some of my homesickness was relieved just because I was breathing ocean air again.

When we got to Sorrento (after about an hour on the bus), we stopped for another "demonstration." They started to get funny, as this chick had obviously "demonstrated" inlaid wood (something Sorrento is apparently famous for) 5,000 times that day and was done. No expression, bored monotone and an extremely fast-forwarded speil. Then we were let into the showroom, where I saw exactly how expensive inlaid wood is: Very. An extremely small travel chessboard was 75 Euro. But since I don't personally care for inlaid wood, it didn't matter much.

Those shops must rake in the dough, though, because everyone else on the tour couldn't seem to get enough of the wood. People were buying furniture, music boxes, pictures ... it was crazy! Remember that show "Supermarket Sweep," when women would get a limited amount of time to run through a grocery store solving clues and grabbing products? That's what it looked like!

We got to the hotel, La Pace, which was one of the most opulent hotels I've ever seen! Check the picture. We got to our rooms, freshened up and tried to decide what to do for dinner. Everyone had spent a long day on the tour bus, so moods were obviously not too high. Anthony really wanted to go into town, Mom seemed to not want to do that, so we ended up eating with a couple other tour members in the restaurant hotel. It was very nice, three courses including a vegetable buffet (oh, the cheese! The olives! The fresh tomatoes!) and dessert.

Sorrento is known for a dessert modeled after ... believe it or not ... the breasts of St. Agatha. A local gal, Agatha was rich and beautiful, and was engaged to a gent until she found the Lord. She told him that she couldn't marry him because she had a vocation, but he didn't believe her and thought she'd been messing around. So he went to the church and they tortured her. She didn't die, however, until they cut off her breasts.

If that weren't gross enough, one of her galpals had the presence of mind to grab one of the boobs and hide it away. It's now on display in a church. And they say we live in warped times!

The dessert is a sort of cake, round, covered with frosting and topped with a red candy. It's pretty good, but only if you're not thinking about its namesake.

After that, we flopped into bed. Katherine insisted on not using the elevator, even though we were on the third floor. She hear someone get stuck in the elevator at the Montecatini hotel, and it traumatized her. She took the stairs every time, no matter how tired she was. It was pretty impressive.

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