Death and organized tours are two of the great levellers of life. They are also both a means to an end, so to speak.
We’re on our fourth tour in as many days. Today it’s the Isle of Capri, Sorrento and Pompeii. I should be excited as we bounce across the waves on our “private” ferry, but we’re sharing with about four hundred other tired cruisers. We need our friend D. She’d get a good old southern sing-along happening.
Capri. The name conjures up visions of movie stars on yachts, but when we dock, all of the people look just like us. Maybe this spectacular place is past its prime. Then we reach the top of the hill and the centre of town. Hmm – this hotel looks like a nice spot for a weekend break. Seven thousand euros per night? Oh, that includes breakfast? Let’s just soak up the fantastic views, window shop and buy one of those famous lemon drinks.
Back to our jet powered super ferry for the short trip to Sorrento and our typical three course Italian lunch.
Ah, now I understand why the Italians always take an hour and three quarters for lunch.
We’ve spent so long relaxing around our meal that we’ve almost forgotten the main event – Pompeii! Ah well, one pile of rocks is much the same as another isn’t it? Wrong!
Our first impression of Pompeii is the size of the place. Apparently there were ten thousand people living there when Vesuvius decided to do its thing. We look at the rows of houses, the streets, the shops, the squares and wonder why people who could build all this weren’t smart enough to leave before the big kaboom? “It’s a lika this” says our guide Vincenzo “there was an earthquake here almosta every day. Anda the mountain, ita smoke all the time. The people they not know that thisa time she mean business.” Ok, now we understand. So, why is the new city of Pompeii still sitting at the base of the same volcano. Admittedly the houses look pretty cheap and have been minimally maintained, but there are tens of thousands here now. “No problem,” says Vincenzo, “the mountain she is nota predicted to erupt for another fifty years.” Death, organised tours and volcanoes – all great levellers.