As promised, the second half of the Italy trip!
It was a short train ride from Rome to Naples on Saturday, so we left our luggage at the station and headed right out to Paestum. Paestum was a Greek settlement in Italy that eventually came under Roman control. The buildings have mostly been reduced to rocky outlines, but there are three temples still amazing to see:
(Temple of Ceres)
(Temple of Neptune with the Temple of Hera in the background)
The little village had a museum with wall paintings and pottery found in the site. It also had a restaurant, just beside the museum, that made the best pizza I had the whole time in Italy, made with the local buffalo mozzarella. Just remembering it makes my mouth water!
Back in Naples, we picked up our bags and headed to the hostel. The main street from the train station is lined with all sorts of street sellers--offering knock-off purses and shoulder bags, kitchen gadgets, shoes, toys, and just about anything else you could think of.
Almost everything's closed in Naples on Sunday, but that was fine because we'd already planned on heading out of the city. Our first stop was Pompeii, which I've been eager to see ever since learning about it in Latin class in high school.
The site is huge, and there aren't a whole lot of signs for the streets, so it's pretty easy to get lost wandering around looking for specific sites mentioned in the guidebook. We spent a few hours there, taking in the theaters:
The restaurants (they'd keep prepared food in those hollows):
The many gorgeous wall paintings:
And of course, the forum (with Mount Vesuvius in the background):
We also explored Herculaneum, another town destroyed when Vesuvius erupted. Much less of it has been excavated than with Pompeii, but the area that is open is full of interesting buildings and art:
Monday we decided we needed a break from rushing off on the train, so we explored Naples. It's busier and nosier than the other cities we visited, but it has it's share of lovely architecture:
We checked out the archeological museum, which had even more art and artifacts from the ruins around Vesuvius, as well as an impressive display of more modern art inspired by the ancient cities. Did a little shopping, grabbed a little pizza, and dodged the only (brief) rain shower we got during the vacation.
Tuesday was a train day. We had an eight hour ride from Naples to Venice, which we mostly spent reading and playing DS games. However, the ride was not without its own excitement...
We were sitting in an arrangement of seats were Chris and I on one side were face-to-face with two other travelers on the other side. At one point, the man sitting across from Chris got up to help an elderly man with his luggage, and his shirt rode up at the back to reveal a gun shoved in the back of his pants! He tugged his shirt down right away, and I pretended I hadn't noticed. But I was pretty nervous for the next couple hours, speculating about why he would possibly need a gun so ready at hand, until he finally got off.
As soon as we arrived in Venice I knew I loved it. One of the first things we saw was the Scalzi bridge going over the Grande Canal, and it just got more beautiful from there.
Because we were only staying for two nights, and we'd gotten a good deal in Rome and Naples, we'd splurged on a fancy bed and breakfast in Venice. The rooms were done up in old-fashioned Venetian style:
Wednesday we spent wandering the city (which is very easy to walk around in--one end of the old city to the other, if you're going direct without stopping, could probably be done in half an hour), admiring the buildings and shops and enjoying the peacefulness of it all (no cars!). Naturally we had to see St. Mark's Square and the church itself:
We took a tour of the secret rooms in the top of the Doge's palace, and heard all about Casanova's escape from those prisons. Then we made our way through the smaller streets:
Crossing bridges as we came to them:
And of course seeing many gondoliers:
Thursday morning, we had to get up before dawn in order to catch our flight. I took one last picture (of the Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge) as the waterbus took us back to the station: