Happy Tuesday, and welcome back to your guided virtual tour! The Italian adventures continue today with an ill-outfitted trek up Mount Vesuvius and a prerequisite to a tour of the ruins of Pompeii! If you didn’t get a chance to read yesterday’s post - “more pizza, gelato, and Neptune, oh my” - you can do so by clicking here! It’s a great read, especially if you love food or you’ve literally ever gotten directionally lost. But as for now, let’s pick up where we left off, shall we?
The next morning I woke up bright and early, determined not to take the wrong bus (again). I succeeded in taking all the correct, intended public transportation and made it to my tour group’s meeting spot… an hour early. Hey, you know what they say - when you’re early you’re on time, and when you’re on time, you’re late. That’s at least how I approached the dating world way back when (hey, it’s cutthroat out there, and high standards are important). The only problem with arriving at the tour group meeting spot an hour early was that nothing was open. I couldn’t find an espresso or even gelato (hey, when in Rome) if I’d tried, so I instead went for a walk around the area, studying the architecture of the houses and streets. And let's be honest, I didn't need espresso; I had enough excited energy to get me through the whole day.
When it came time for our group to finally meet, I actually ended up with a tour guide from Southern California who was a dual-citizen of Italy and the US. It was neat to have a little taste of home so far away from it. Although I had signed up for a tour of the Ruins of Pompeii, I didn’t actually realize until I’d gotten onto the tour bus that the trip began with a journey to Mount Vesuvius. I was, for lack of a better word, PUMPED. As I listened to our tour guide share facts about the volcano, the surrounding area of Naples and its issues with the Mafia, as well as the origins of pizza and the size of the lemons for making limoncello, I couldn’t help but think of Pliny the Elder (and my boyfriend who was not my boyfriend at the time who loves craft beer.. hey, life is weird and magical sometimes) and how I always was a bit bummed that Vesuvius destroyed Pompeii on August 24 in 79 AD (August 24 is my birthday) - more on this in tomorrow’s post!
As we made our way up Mount Vesuvius in the bus, I was itching with anticipation at the chance that we would get to hike to the top. Unfortunately, I was not properly dressed for such an excursion or for the chilly fog at the peak. Although my leather jacket provided some warmth, it couldn’t fully help my early morning decision to wear a romper instead of jeans and some well-loved (read: beat up) Chuck Taylors. I hiked to the top anyway (I mean, duh.. it’s me we’re talking about here), and on my way chatted with some other solo travelers. It was nice to talk about the pros and cons of solo travel with other people who understood and had very similar experiences and stories.
When we reached the top, we looked down at the base of the mountain over the city of Naples and peered into the crater that had last erupted on St. Patrick’s Day in 1944, just months after the Allied Invasion of Italy. Finding that out on the bus ride to Vesuvius and remembering it as I looked out over the scenery around and below me reminded me of a book I read about Italy in WWII that I loved by Mark Sullivan called Beneath a Scarlet Sky. I won’t go into too much detail about the book, but it was a historical fiction novel that followed a young Italian boy who became a spy and experienced many joys and even more losses during the war. It was surreal to be standing atop the volcano, thinking about all the history that occurred there since 79 AD.
Our couple hours on Mount Vesuvius ended as we hiked back down (still in a romper and old Chucks) to the bus. A few of us on the bus continued to reflect on the experience as we slowly made our way to Naples for… BWAH BWAH BWAH - more pizza! And that feels like a good place to stop for today! Tomorrow’s post will be all about the pizza in Naples and my amazing, incredible tour of Pompeii!
How about you? Have you had an experience that immediately reminded you of someone in your life you wish you could share it with or perhaps an experience that reminded you of a book you loved? If it's too hard to narrow it down to only one, don’t! I find that so many places I’ve been lucky to experience have catapulted me back into books and novels I’ve loved. I'm currently reading The Neopolitan Novels, and it's so fun reading novels set in Italy while I've been writing about my trip to Italy! I’d love to hear if you’ve experienced that same sensation I have!
So please subscribe in the e-mail submission box below and reach out, follow me on Instagram or Twitter, or reach out to me on the “contact” page, especially if you have books you love or recommend! I’m so happy you're here and that I’ve been getting a lot of really great, fun-to-read stories, questions, and feedback from a community all over the globe. The stories I’ve gotten to read recently bring me such smiles, and I am so grateful for all of it! Especially during this time of uncertainty and pandemic, it's important to surround yourself with good; we're all in this together. I couldn’t do this without you! So THANK YOU! From the bottom of my heart, truly, thank you.
P.S. - If you want to catch up from the beginning on this series of adventures, here's a cheat sheet to the posts (in order in which they were published):
1. Won't you join me?
2. grateful for starbucks and sandymount strand
3. Once Upon a December in the National Gallery
4. plant a smooch for that gift of gab
5. may the 4th be with you: Dingle style
6. cinco de mayo: the best Mexican food in Dublin
7. pizza in roma
8. mussolini’s window and the philosophers’ metro stop
9. father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife
10. it's the vatican, not the vatican't
11. spoiler alert: i did not lose my hand
12. more pizza and gelato and Neptune, oh my