Lorenzo Monastery, Paestum, Pompeii & Mt. Vesuvius, Italy.

Were on the move again, tired of being at the heel and instep of Italy, we’re off to the shin, the western edge. On route, over the hills, The Monastery of Certosa di San Lorenzo, according to our Lonely Planet “one of the largest Monasteries in Italy”, then the guide rattles through all the numerous attributes, like 13 courtyards, 100 fireplaces, 52 stairways & 41 fountains etc. Also famous for the 1000 egg omelette, made in 1534 for Charles V, unfortunately, since then, somebody’s had it away with the frying pan!

The Cloisters courtyard, Padula on the hillside

Our parking spot for the night. Top-Padula.

It is a huge place. It would take you 15 minuets to walk around the cloisters & courtyard. Lots of rooms were open to the public, lots weren’t and as seems to be the norm, little information & the Italians don’t seem to care whether your here (as a tourist) or not. We got the feeling they couldn’t afford the staff wages to cover the whole site during winter, but it was worth the visit at €4 each. We didn’t fancy coughing up a further €5 for the official car park just down the road, so slept by the side of the road, where everyone else parks to avoid paying for parking. Unlike Greece, Italy like to fleece the motorist (and MoHo’mer) for parking, like Greece, your average Italian will park just about anywhere to avoid payment, so side roads can get a little congested.

The Museum

While I’m on the subject of vehicles, what can I say about driving in Italy…er…it’s madness, just utter, lawless, madness! Southern Italians must be the most impatient drivers in Europe. Speed limits, double solid white lines, no overtaking signs and blind bends, mean nothing to them. If they want to get round you…they will. If you leave the slightest gap in front, they see it as a challenge to get in it, with a semi-apologetic wave of the hand, they’re in. Use of the horn seems to be compulsory, beep, for ‘Hello’, Beep-beep for ‘goodbye’, Beep-b-beep seems to be ‘thanks’. After a week, I’m now fluent in ‘Horn’. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said “If he did that in the UK…he’d get lumped!” But as with most countries we’ve now had the pleasure to drive in, no one seems to get too irate about it all, it’s just ‘The Norm’.

Temple at Paestum (as photographed through the fence)

Just time for a quick stop at the Paestum temples archaeological site, didn’t fancy paying €9 each to go in, so we just had a little walk up and down the road, peering through the fence at some of the most intact Greek/Roman leftovers in Italy. Then on to Pompei and Pompeii (two i’s for the old town, one for the new). Pompei Camping served us well, directly outside the attraction, all the usual services, good WiFi included too, ACSI all for €19 pn.

Nothing I could write here would be additional to anything most readers would know already. But here goes a shot, back in AD 63 a huge earthquake violently shook city, levelling many of its buildings. The clean-up and re-build were still underway, when on 24th Aug AD 79, Mount Vesuvius blew it’s lid, sending thousands of tons of pumice, rocks and dust 10 miles into the air. What goes up, must come down, Pompeii (and other surrounding towns) were covered in up to 30 metres of fall-out. The whole area abandoned by anyone who was lucky enough to survive. The tragedy of the story is both interesting and morbid, 2,000 folks lost their lives, 20,000 fled and returned to nothing but ash. Nearly two thousand years later the painstaking excavation work is still going on, it’s slow process, hampered by politics and the lack of funds. As a tourist, it’s fascinating, a Roman village frozen in an unfortunate moment in time. At the site the problem for most tourists seems to be, direction, sinage and information, large areas of the site are locked off and the standard issue map, no better than those issued by a Tourist bus company. We used the Lonely Planet guide again to fill in the gaps of information.

The large Ampitheatre at Pompeii

A Pompeii street

A good spot for lunch, this may have been a café 2000 years ago.

Artefacts from Pompei.

Modern art exhibitions around the site.

The last eruption, not much more than a burp really back in 1946, just to let us know that a couple of thousand years is nowt to a sleepy volcano. Keep listening humans and watch this space. This week, we read in the news that Etna had erupted too, just as were were at Vesuvius. We’re so pleased, it’s not every week you pick the correct volcano to visit.

The arena at Pompeii where Pink Floyd played in 1972

Big bonus, the Pink Floyd exhibition is  still being held in the amphitheatre halls. I love the original video, Dave Gilmore also made a return visit recently. Nick mason and his ‘1970’s-rock-star-star-tash’.

The black and white line up of 1972 Pink Floyd. The video filmed Oct ’71 and released 1972.

From the top of Mt. Vesuvius 1270m, looking down on Naples (Napoli)

Not sure you’re supposed to come up here in your car mate!

The odd stray dog, guarding 2000 year old relics


Charlie’s sleepover spots:-

Padula, The Monastery of Certosa di San Lorenzo, on the road behind a 8” wall (very windy) n40.334080 e19.65100. A bit of traffic until 23:00, then quiet. No services.FREE

Salerno, Edge of wood parking. No services. n40.50980 e14.92720. FREE

Pompei Camping. Basic but perfect camp site outside the Pompeii site. €20pn.

Mt. Vesuvius, cafe car park. No services but what a view! n40.81980 e14.41250

A ‘pano’ from the top of Mt Vesuvius

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