Episode 258 – No Longer Buried in Ash

April 24, 2022 70°F/20°C


We arrived in Naples around noon today. Viking arranged a fabulous brunch on our open pool deck during the sail-in, which made our arrival that much more spectacular. I enjoyed chicken caesar wraps, salad, and fruit flavoured macarons, while Ted snapped pictures. He caught a shot of Mt. Vesuvius as we approached.

I liked this shot because it looks as if Vesuvius is smoking. It’s not.
Views of Naples’ beautiful port area.

We’ve never been to Naples, or in fact to Italy until this cruise, so it was really difficult choosing between all the wonderful excursions offered in this port. In the end, “we” chose Pompeii, where the victims of the horrific 79 Ad eruption of Mt. Vesuvius were caught in the middle of their lives by the volcanic gases and 20 feet of hot ash that rained down and instantly entombed them.

Today the town, having been rediscovered in the 17th century, has been extensively excavated, and is a huge archeological site. Almost the entirety of the town that once housed perhaps 15-20,000 people is available to walk through and explore – everything from homes, shops, brothels, restaurants, bakeries, theatres, and a huge main square with its courthouse. Our tour duration didn’t allow enough time for us to get to the amphitheater, but that’s a good reason to return to Naples.

In 1860, Pompeii’s director of excavations Giuseppe Fiorelli developed a way to create plaster casts out of the voids left by the decay of organic materials in the hardened ash and pumice. Those people and animals are brought to life, in a sense, by those plaster casts. Sadly, those casts are no longer displayed in situ, thanks to disrespectful tourists who insisted on touching (and sometimes graffiti-ing) them, but we did see a few of them in the on-site museum/antiquarium.

The cast nearest the front looks like a mother playing with her child at the moment that they were frozen in time.
Domus Cornelia (the house of Cornelia, so called because that name was found engraved on an interior wall. Top: the front entrance, into the atrium.
Centre: the peristyle, a columned main area, which would originally have had a wooden roof. Bottom: the fluvium, a water collection pool in the front atrium.
Amazingly, not only did carvings survive on walls, but also remnants of colour.
Portions of the large town square.
Top and second: The large theatre. There was also a smaller odeon for music, and a full amphitheatre. Third: a portion of the surviving marble entrance walkway. Bottom: a plaque showing the theatre’s “sponsors” (those who had paid to build it).
Detail of some of the pillars outside the bath houses.
Top and left: well-preserved mosaics from two homes. Tourists are no longer allowed to walk on them. Bottom right: a section of wall on which the painted design survived the ash.
A “snack bar” in the row of shops. Note the wells for various goods: beer from Egypt, wine, olives, and more, all of which would have been stored in stone amphora under the “counter”.
Another shop featured a “pizza oven”.
Pompeii was a typical port town, and apparently known for being quite licentious. There were at least 25 brothels. Top & left: Since the town catered to many nationalities, the “menu” of available “services” was a pictorial one. Centre right: a brothel room with stone bed on which a mattress or furs would have been laid. Bottom right: a street sign directing clients to the red light district. It’s not Mickey Mouse.
Left & lower right: water fountains. Top right: lead water pipes. Apparently lead was brought to Pompeii from England by the Romans, who had no idea it was harmful for humans.

This evening was the very emotional good-byes to staff who’ve made our journey so far so very special. There is a large crew turnover taking place in Rome tomorrow. Fellow passenger and all-round amazing person Candyce Traci has been taking photos of shipboard events every day, and shared her wonderful pictures of the crew and staff with our Cruise Director and tech team, who turned them into a slideshow accompanied by our entertainment team singing “They Work Hard for the Money” and “Hard Working Man”. It was both fun and touching.

In our case, we will especially miss Yoyo Hadianto, my Bloody Mary enabler; the amazing Ana-Lyn Orquin and Jeffrey Capalad whose voices and friendship have given us so much pleasure ; electric guitarist extraordinaire Heintje Berame; and pianist Enrico Agudo whose joy in being able to share his love for Chopin and infectious grin always pulled us into his performances.

All of these wonderful folks shared in our vow renewals earlier this month. We will never forget them.

Top: Heintje & Enrico
Bottom: Ana-Lyn and Jeffrey
These talented people are off for a well-deserved 2 month reunion with their families at home in the Philippines before rejoining Viking for their next contract aboard the Jupiter. We wish them nothing but the best.
Me with Ana-Lyn at the ship’s International Women’s Day event.


  1. My enjoyment of 5 years of high-school Latin led to a degree in Classical Civilization. Pompeii was a must-see. Hauntingly sad, but so interesting to learn of daily life there.
    I’m so glad you saw my summer home from a previous life- Domus Cornelia.

    Liked by 1 person

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