Although we met some of the members of our group on Sunday night, Monday started the formal trip. We met for breakfast in the hotel, the Hotel Palma, which is very nice and has the rare Pompeii asset of air conditioning.
ABOUT THE GROUP
There are 19 travelers, our Stanford coordinator and fearless leader, Dr. Gary DeVore. We will be 12 diggers and the rest will be off on various other site seeing activities. We are lucky in that 2 of our group speak good italian. This will come in very hadny. We are pretty evenly split between men and women and all age groups. We got our train tickets (back to Naples), our pick-pocket warnings and instructions from Elana, the coordinator from Stanford, and Gary,. We then proceeded to join the commuters on the train to Naples. Our destination was the museum of Naples where most of the art and artifacts recovered from Pompeii were taken.
After a brief incident in Naples where 4 of our members who failed to validate their train tickets were each fined 30 Euros, we got on the Metro and rode one stop to the train station where we climbed 8 floors of stairs to exit (ugh).
The museum was right by the Metro and we entered into a long hallway filled with large statues. The statues were in incredible shape and all colors of marble. White and black were the most popular and the most popular emperors and gods scored at least one version in each color. Augustus and Claudius seemed to be among the most popular. We moved on the hall of emporers to see other assorted emperors.We learned that noses, fingers, and penises were the most vulnerable parts of statues and while noses were usually restored, and penises occassionally, fingers often weren't.
We also visited the famous erotic collection in the museum. I'm not sure why it was called erotic as it seems to focus solely on men. I'd call it a penus worship collection. Hats, lamps, trays, every thing you can think of in the shape of a penis.
I'm going to let Michael write more about the museum including the mosiacs and frescoes, but from my standpoint it's absolutely amazing how everything was basically intact and incredibly detailed. A lot of talent from a long time ago.
I could go into a long harangue about the quality of Italian museums but it would take pages. Short version is I am not impressed and does not lend credibility to their demands to get "looted" artifacts back.
Michael spent breakfast running around telling all the women to leave their jewelry at the hotel and how to hide other valuables. The trip was declared a victory as no one in our party was a victim of petty theft!
After our time in the museum, we undertook the ardous journey on public transit back to Pompeii. We even helped some lost German tourists who spoke English, who managed to get on the wrong Pompeii train (wrong for them, right for us). Hey, we've been here for 24 hours and we are already experts! We arrived to a town completely shuttered and headed for a quick bite at 3:30 pm. Since that is definitely not the Italian lunch hour we went to a near-by tourist place for a salad. We were amused by the menu which had a Salade di polips translated as "salad of polyps" - not an appetizing thought. However, since we have our little translator we realized it was actually octopus.
We then cooled off with showers and the blessed air conditioning prior to our group dinner at Poppinos, chosen by Gary, for a vegetarian meal. It was quite nice, particular an assortment of fresh vegetables which seems somewhat rare here, where pizza, pasta and fish rule the menu. Much water and wine was consumed - our only group dinner for the trip.