Monday, July 8, 2013

Italy - Naples to Pompeii

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Naples with Mount Vesuvius on skyline. Photo credit: AllPosters,com
25 miles – Thursday, October 20

I am utterly amazed at what Andy and I ride through – between traffic, road conditions, and noise – and still come out alive.

We started the morning with another dip in the mineral water pool, then returned to the congested road. Along the way we find a bike store and buy a new water bottle and brake pads. We continued a winding ascent in Pozzuoli, begun the previous day, then spin up a long climb into Naples.

We halted at a construction zone, close to a gentleman who directed the traffic. He was gesticulating with aplomb, much like a dancer, limbs swinging, feet strutting the asphalt. He was darned good at his job and a joy to watch. The line of cars stopped in both directions. He smiled and asked us where we were from as the yellow machinery rumbled and did its thing. We answered his questions. Then he waved us on ahead.

Andy went first. However, when I placed my right foot in the toeclips and pushed off, I was propelled too easily up the incline. I looked over my shoulder and laughed. The construction guy was giving me a boost. Unfortunately, when I looked ahead I was dangerously close to Andy's wheel. I yelled to alert my husband. The man let go. I breathed a sigh of relief. The guy gave words of encouragement and went back to directing traffic. I regained my wits and fell in line behind my husband. However, I wanted to acknowledge the Italian's “help”. Without looking back, I raised my hand and waved.

Cresting the rise, we finally coast on a cobbled tree-lined street, past beautiful stone homes overlooking the Naples harbor. Ferries, cruisers, sailboats, all in white, filled the sparkling bay. Yet we couldn't let our gaze stray for long. Impatient drivers lingered at our heels until a gap allowed them to zip past.

At ocean level now, we steer on wide pathway hugging the shoreline. Mt. Vesuvius's twin humps darkened the skyline. There is a continual wall of connected shops. A British Airways blue and red logo catches our eye. On the spot we make reservations for the Athens to London flight for November 28. This gives us a definitive time-line for the rest of our European travels.

Naples fish market. Photo credit: Cepolina 

We follow signs to Pompeii. It's a trying cacophony of horns, whining voices, people yelling from scooters. And to add to the confusion, as the streets narrow into alleys, still cobbled, it is also filled with residents. Women hang laundry, haul heavy bags of groceries. Men work on cars and scooters, sell fish from colored buckets. Andy and I claim what space we can, dodging pedestrians, always on the alert. Traffic bottlenecks. Italian drivers are impatient and – it appears to us – their favorite gear is reverse. It is a free-for-all!

Busy, narrow streets. Imagine bike touring through those streets.
 Photo credit: Happenings at Jello's House

We were frazzled by the time we skirted Mt. Vesuvius and erect the tent in Pompeii Camping (nearby is Spartacus Camping and Zeus Camping) across from the old city's entrance. At least the fee is reasonable, 15,000 Lira (10.00 USD). We share the place with English, German, Dutch, Swiss, and French tourists, identified by license plates. Often we are the only tenters. But later on after a short walk for groceries, we drink wine with dinner and begin to relax.

Once we're done exploring the old city, there are plaguing questions. Where to go next? How to get to Greece? And, we absolutely cannot retrace our steps to Naples. That's the hardest 25 miles I've ever pedaled.


  1. It's just a delight following your trip.

  2. I would think to catch a ferry to Greece. This is an exciting adventure to follow!


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