Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Run Away... LAVA!! (Sunday)

This morning was our drive to Pompeii. We started by getting our typical American nutrients in our system and then boarded the bus. It took us about an hour to get from Naples to Pompeii. We were greeted there by our local tour guide Salvio – who by the way happens to be famous! We’ll explain later.

Salvio took us on an hour and a half tour of Pompeii. He was actually an excavator in the city for seven years; so needless to say, he knew what he was talking about. Then toward the end of the tour we found out he was an undercover police officer. The city was amazing. Pompeii is the sight of Mount Vesuvius which blew in early Roman times and destroyed the city. You can still see remains of people and animals that did not make it out of the city alive. Salvio was sure to reenact every person’s story of their life and then how they died and what they were doing when the volcano erupted. About 2/5 of Pompeii has still not be excavated.

Through the city we were able to see bars and brothels, shops and homes. We even saw a full scale bakery with an oven and basins to mix the dough. We then perused through the red light district aka North Gate or 6th Street or even Crocket Street.

One of the fun moments of the day was going through the brothel. Um, yeah… it was pretty hard core. As we were getting ready to go in we lost Salvio but then could still here him through our headsets. The next thing we know he’s yelling at someone asking to see their identification. Apparently the man was a tour guide that was pushing people out of the way so that his group could make it through at one time. Crazy, but back to the brothel.

(The next few sentences may be inappropriate for small children. We will refrain from using pictures. haha)

It was essentially a Kama Sutra. But the funny part came after we made our way through. They used a symbol on the wall to show direction. It was men's "member". WOW! It was carved into the stone wall. In another place, there was a bigger one carved into the stone on the road pointing back toward the brothel. They were real big on showing you were to go. Then in the souvenir shops they were EVERYWHERE. We were told they stood for good luck.

(Ok. Kids are allowed once again!)

You should have seen the marble work that were in some of the homes. One of them had little squares of marble along the floor that caught the reflection of the moon and lighted the house at night. How clever were they.

One of the running jokes with some of the people in our group is how Salvio “knew” exactly what each tiny rock used to be. He set aside about 5 pieces and said this one is marble and was used for mosaics. This one is curved a specific way so that one had to be the neck of a vase. The next was curved but smooth so that one was a bowl used for eating. So Matt and Michael started picking up pieces and making up what they were. I think Michael found Emperor Nero’s lost sole of his shoe and Matt found the tip of a shanking knife. We had a grand o’ time just laughing and making jokes through Pompeii.

Another neat piece of knowledge that Salvio passed down to us is the fact that most people of Pompeii were right handed. Archeologists know this because of the water fountains in the city.

The locals would place their left hand on the top of the fountain and then lean across using the right hand to brace themselves to then drink. There was a place on the right side that was completely worn down whereas the left side wear was very minimal.

(They used the "2 finger" system to measure their bricks)

(hahaha - warning sign for "Don't Fall Over"!)

Words really cannot describe the things we saw today. Here are a few pictures that we hope can do the job. We also took a video of our tour guide that we will have to show you at a later date. The man was crazy, but loads of fun.

(street signs: Pompeii style)

(Used to create steam in the bath house)

(great ancestors of Pompeii - haha)

(baking wells for flour at the town's bakery)

Ok, so Salvio is known world wide. He even has a statue errected in his honor in New York. He is known as Mr. Cornicello. Currently he is working on his Peace in the World tour. You can check him out on facebook at Mister Cornicello.

Dad (Keith)- here is a picture of a fruit slushy bar. These were the typical sizes of the lemons around the south of Italy. I snuck this picture in Pompeii but just imagine bigger and better looking for all those ones in Capri I was telling you about!

Josh- once again, I couldn't help but think of you. This is the souvenir we would have bought you if we had money. hahaha!

After Pompeii we headed back to Rome. Tonight we are staying at the Hotel Victoria. For the first time we actually have free internet, but it is not wireless. So we’re having to borrow a cord from another couple which is why we are blogging late. Sorry! The website for this hotel is

Tonight we had the Gala Dinner and Dance. It was fabulous. We got all dressed up and were, by the way, the most dressed up in our group. But we got a huge applause as we got onto the bus (almost last… running late as usual). They drove us out to a beautiful villa fairly close to the futbol arena in Rome.

We can’t remember the name. They passed out little pamphlets at dinner and we forgot ours. But they host weddings and parties here. Good thing we have already gotten married because this would have been our destination wedding location for sure. It was amazing. Jena – I took some pics in case you’re interested. Haha!

(Matt and Allan)

We started with cocktails and socializing.

(John and Jen, Allan and Jen, Matt and Hillary)

We tried caviar, fried zucchini, and even fried mozzarella balls. It was here that I took one bite of the mozzarella and hot liquid squirted across my face. I must have seemed like the biggest country bumkin because I just threw the mozzarella ball down as I yelped in agony. I can still feel the spot where it burned me. We actually ate with another Perillo group. We all agreed that we had a better group than them. They were much older and a bit more snoody than the people in our group. After drinks and lots of pictures we had dinner. White lasagna, pasta, and yummy fish. Desert was some type of soft ice cream with Grand Marnier and orange peel.

(L to R: Laura and Elenor, Raffela, Ronnie and Dave, Pat and Len)

(L to R: Phil and Shirley, Sandy and Lloyd, Michael and Isabella, Cheryl and Gena)

(L to R: Allan and Jen, Alan and Ruby, John and Jen, Delores and Ann, Hillary.
Not pictured: Matt)

After dinner we walked around the inside of the villa. We actually stole a picture of a Murano glass chandelier! Take a peek.

(An original look at the villa before renovations)

Then there was dancing. Matt and I snuck out back so we could have a moment by ourselves and dance while nobody was really looking. We didn’t want to embarrass ourselves, but I have to say… we did pretty good. It was really a very romantic moment. And then we found out people were watching us anyway and thought we were super cute. We also snuck off and took lots of great pictures. The musicians were the best I’ve ever heard. The singer was from Ohio originally and then came to Rome for 2 weeks 9 years ago and never went back. They were very interactive with the crowd and very entertaining. They sang lots of great American hits, “She’s a Lady”, Sinatra, and “New York, New York”. They also threw in a few Italian songs for good measure, “That’s Amore” and something like So long Rome maybe.. not real sure what that was called. It was just overall a great evening.

When we got back to the hotel several of us were not quite ready for bed yet, so we decided to go up to the hotel bar. It was Matt and I, Allan and Jennifer, John and Jen, Michael and Isabella, and Cheryl and Gena. We all had a drink and just sat and talked for another hour. We laughed and joked and told stories. We had such a great time with all of these people. We figured it was finally time to leave whenever the bar tender shut off the lights. We realized Sunday night is probably not the late night.

One more day to go. We’ve decided that the people on this tour are gonna be our vacation buddies forever. We can’t imagine anyone better to spend our time with (except for our families of course). We’re not ready to come home yet.

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