On the Way to Pompeii…

…or is it Pompei with only one i? I did a quick search and discovered that Pompeii is the ancient city and ruins located in Pompei, the modern city.  This is one of those things that can throw an American tourist and has me scratching my head – like why do we call it Rome (not Roma), Naples (instead of Napoli) or why is Germany called Alemania in Spain but in Germany it’s actually Deutschland?

Visiting Pompeii and Pompei was well worth the trip.  It’s the oldest thing we have ever seen, dating back to the 8th century BC and destroyed in 79 AD by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.  All of us (kids included) were fascinated by the remnants of this once thriving town and saddened to see the people who were buried in ash.

We had planned on taking the train from Rome to Pompeii but decided last minute to rent a car so we could explore Italy on our own.  Since it was so hot in Rome we wanted a little relief and headed for the coast. With the recommendation from the staff at the Marriott we headed to Gaeta and found Serapa Beach, a beautiful cove situated on the Mediterranean with light sand, blue/green water where you could see your toes, and sand bars that made it easy to walk out far into the sea.  It was the perfect rest stop.  

We had booked a hotel in Pompei despite the fact that none of the tour books had mentioned staying there.  Knowing it could get hot and crowded we wanted to be up and out on the first tour.   We stayed at The Hotel Del Sole that had a kind staff, a trendy lobby but bare bone rooms. The location (right across the street from Pompeii’s entrance) coupled with the fact that we got our own beds, made it perfect for us.  It reminded me of a college dorm, which works for us because I often feel like I live in a frat house.  The room came with with free breakfast which for our kids consisted of Nutella on every pastry they could find.  

The three places we stayed in Italy all required we provide our passports.  I thought that was interesting because that’s not something that happens in the U.S. One hotel explained it was for tax purposes, the other explained our information was logged and sent to the government. 

At the hotel we discovered that a double-decker pull out couch exists. We had never seen this before…

We walked across the street and found the licensed tour guides -I hadn’t pre-booked one because  my son suffers from migraines and it’s difficult to predict whether he can roll with the rest of us. A private tour of Pompeii costs $120 and well worth it – especially when you’re with Antonio.  He is local and so knowledgeable providing us with the highlights in two hours.  The kids could ask questions and he could tailor the tour towards them.  It was truly incredible to learn about this town and its culture before its devastation. Meanwhile Mount Vesuvius, still an active volcano, lurks in the background.

We were so glad we started our day early –  as we were leaving the line was ten times as long and it was heating up.  We were all done by 11 a.m., able to check out if the hotel and hit the road to Tuscany…


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