Widespread corruption, sad neglect and unimaginative presentation at Pompeii

The miraculous town of Pompei should have been one of the highlights of our visit to Italy but sadly we found this incredible first century AD site suffering from poor preservation, unimaginative presentation and spoiled by numerous competing guides speaking loudly in different languages – many to large groups.

A view of buildings in Pompeii with Vesuvius in the background
The great theatre of Pompeii which could hold about 5,000 people and was first built in the 2nd century BC
It’s amazing to see the network of intact Roman roads throughout Pompeii.
Walls of shops and small dwellings
A partially reconstructed villa with a fabulous mosaic floor
Mount Vesuvius
No prizes for guessing what this is advertising!

Exploring this town hidden and preserved under a blanket of volcanic ash for from 79 AD until 1748 when the first excavations were made, was still amazing but could have been so much more amazing!

Pompeii has the largest group of surviving examples of Roman frescoes.
The frescoes are full of life and colour
They bring alive what life in Pompeii would have been like in the 1st Century AD

Walking in Roman footsteps

If there had been well produced information and interpretation instead of reliance on pushy guides that visitors have to pay for, some of whom could – very likely – have been ill informed and sprouting rubbish, how much better the experience would have been.

I particularly loved the animal frescoes
And the marvellous animal mosaics too
These fish were almost jumping off the wall
More amazing frescoes

Many of the buildings were shored up and closed off and looked as though they had been neglected for years, with many of the once-lost wonders hidden for a second time – behind ugly fences rather than under volcanic ash.

Hidden wonders behind ugly fencing

Some repairs were badly done and looked as though they’d been made by someone with no experience of archeology at all. We later found out that this was exactly the case – there had been widespread corruption with contracts awarded to undeserving and unethical contractors who had contacts with the Mafia.

A stunning mosaic shrine
Casts made from pouring plaster into the voids left after bodies had broken down. Graphic and ghoulish and probably disrespectful.
Fast food Roman style- popular dishes were kept in these basins and locals would buy them for lunch
A beautiful dog guarding an entrance to a house

While there were many wonders to marvel at, apparently many more have been lost to the world and recent UNESCO restoration is slow and laborious even though we are told that the mafia are no longer in control.

Remains of foodstuffs blackened by the volcanic ash
Another stunning floor mosaic
The amphitheatre at Pompeii is the oldest surviving Roman amphitheatre
How many gladiators walked this path into the Amphitheatre?
The infamous casts depict the agony of Vesuvius’ victims
A piece of volcanic rock serves as a reminder of the devastation
Some magnificent columns once again touching the sky

Before driving across Italy to Pompeii we had walked from our parking spot at the Marina on the outskirts of the Adriatic coastal town of Polignano a Mare along a lovely coastal path into the historic centre.

From the cliff top path we could see in the distance the old part of the gorgeously situated town perched on a 20 metre-high limestone rock above the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic.

The cliff oath in Polignano a Mare
The sparkling waters of the Adriatic
Views of the historical centre of Polignano a Mare from the cliff path

The origins of this enchanting place date back to the 4th century BC when Greek settlers founded the city and later it became part of the Roman Empire.

Colourful fishing boats
The marvellous statue of the famous singer and composer Domenico Modugno.who was born in Polignano a Mare. Here he is supposedly singing his huge hit song “Volare”

To this day a Roman road bridge which we crossed when we arrived, still provides dramatic backdrop to the beach below.

View from the Roman bridge
The old town perched on twenty metre high cliffs

The tiny old town, reached through the Porta Vecchia gate, combines charming, white-washed streets with beautiful old churches such as the Chiesa Matrice. Following the twist and turns of alleyways we found three panoramic terraces which had breathtaking views over the beautiful coastline.

One of the three terraces in the old town
Beautiful churches and piazzas
Fabulous views from the terraces

The beaches near to the town are small and flanked by cliffs from which people apparently love to dive during the summer months.

Holiday makers love to dive off the cliffs

We found a poster that showed how crowded the beaches get and were heartily thankful we had visited during the off season.

Thank goodness it wasn’t like this when we were there.

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

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