Guest Bloggers Adam McCulloch and Emma Sloley are married travel writers based in New York. Originally from Australia, they moved to the U.S. in 2004. They have traveled to over 60 countries and written for a wide range of publications, including Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, New York magazine, Gotham, Gourmet Traveller, Coastal Living, Reader’s Digest and Outside. Adam and Emma are sending us stories and pictures daily from their 14-day voyage aboard Seabourn Odyssey between Rome and Venice. Come by and read their blogs often.
Day 2 – April 29, 2013: Sorrento, Italy
So today we got ruined. No, not through a deleterious lack of sleep due to jet lag (although that certainly helped.) We visited the legendary ruins of Pompeii, and we walked away impressed: less by Pompeii itself than by the lack of it. Sure, we were amazed by how damn clever the Romans were. How could we not be? The seats in the music hall were made from porous volcanic stone to absorb the sound, and the nearby merchants stored food in heated terracotta pots, thereby inventing the world’s first bain-marie-style food warmer. We were impressed by how intact so much of the city was: the frescoes were still bright and the plumbing was in better order than our apartment in New York. And we were slightly appalled by how disgusting the Romans were: washing clothes in human urine? Phallic symbols engraved into the sidewalk? We almost blushed.
All of this was impressive, but nothing was more extraordinary than the fact that Pompeii managed to vanished completely and remain forgotten for 1500 years. Picture this: you grew up in Pompeii and spent your years perfecting the art of creating phallic oil lamps (which were found in abundance during the excavation). You took your craft seriously, envisaging a whole range of phallic objets d’art: lamps, boats, buildings…maybe even the red souvenirs we saw while we were waiting for the bus. You have bigger plans than Pompeii can satisfy, so one day you decide to take your skills to the known world and leave to seek your fortune. You’ve only been gone for a few weeks when you hear a big bang. Half of Mount Vesuvius just exploded.
What do you do? Do you simply assume that your family members are all okay and not check up on them? When orders for your phallic oil lamps drop precipitously do you simply assume that the style has gone out of fashion back in the big smoke? Surely, after a long dusty donkey ride back home, when you reached the smoldering ruin, you thought, “Hang on a minute…Pompeii used to be right here. Maybe this stone and ash dog isn’t a nifty sculpture after all.”
At some point history forgot each and every single person from the ruined city of Pompeii, from the slaves to the senators. Friends and family stopped talking about it. They forgot that they used to go there to drink, eat and view the wonderful pornographic mosaics which, even today, are locked away. They forgot (and perhaps this is entirely understandable) that they ever held a memberships to one of the worlds first gymnasiums – I expect that even now their descendants still receive promotional flyers.
Pompeii, the largest and most important city in the Bay of Naples, was entirely forgotten. That is the most amazing thing of all. A millennium and a half later, all it took was one guy with a shovel and an entire lost city was discovered. Maybe there’s hope for us finding Atlantis on this cruise after all…
Souvenir: The first time we tasted limoncello, we hadn’t even visited Italy. We were young and impressionable at the time and the distinctive flavor of this classic Italian lemon liqueur never left us: sweet and a little bit tart, it tastes like distilled sunshine. When in Rome, or in this case Sorrento, we figured we’d do as the Sorrentines do…pick up a bottle of limoncello to take home. You’ll find this classic all over the Sorrentine Peninsula and beyond, and it’s best served chilled or over ice.
If you didn’t manage to snag a bottle while on shore leave in Sorrento, never fear: we enlisted bartender Sasha at the Sky Bar to mix us up a mean lemondrop martini, made from shaken vodka, lemon juice and limoncello, and look how pretty it is!
Overheard: “See how big is this line? People are crazy to visit the brothel.”
Our guide Daniela at Pompeii, referring to the site of an ancient Roman house of ill repute.