After a very comfortable night in the Premier Inn at Gatwick North, 44 girls and 5 staff eagerly set off for our trip to the Bay of Naples. Our early flight was on time which enabled us to make a prompt start at Pozzuoli amphitheatre. We saw where the terrified gladiators were kept in underground caverns close to the wild beasts before they were lifted up to the baying crowd above, who were eager to see them fight to the death. The amphitheatre was a beautiful structure and has survived the ravages of time well. Next up was Solfatara. We stood in the crater of this extinct volcano and watched in awe as Daisy volunteered to disappear behind the sulphur fumes. The caves were billed as having medicinal effects and so we all left with greatly purified skin!
Pompeii was a great treat on the following day. We spent six hours exploring the houses, bath houses, amphitheatre, theatre, forum and temples. The atmosphere of this ancient town is incredible and it is not difficult to embrace the terror of its people as it met with an unstoppable power of nature in the eruption of Vesuvius.
Herculaneum was equally exciting. Although on a smaller scale, it had no less impact as we saw the skeletons of those who had taken to the harbour walls to try and protect themselves but died in the attempt. The houses and grid road structure are fascinating here and are very well preserved. Incredibly for March, Mount Vesuvius was open to walk up. After a 900metre climb we reached the crater. Strong winds and fog prevented us from walking the full way around the crater but we did get a good view from one side. Finally, we saw the exhibits which had been taken from Pompeii and Herculaneum in the Naples Archaeological Museum. The statues, mosaics, frescoes, glassware, pots and jewellery all gave us an excellent overview. No visit to Italy would be complete without pizza and pasta and we had our fill. The hotel was very pleasant, down 150 steps to the small harbour and we enjoyed the cafés in Sorrento and Vico Equense. The girls were a delight to take and arrived back happy, tired and better informed.