September 2: Naples to Maratea

As the sun slowly rises over the sleepy city of Naples, the streets below the window begin to sound like a bustling city. Cars hook, street sweepers churn by, dogs bark, window shudders bang open. The day has begun. Breakfast is served buffet style on the roof where cocktails were served the night before. The sea is on the horizon to the west, the hills to the east creating a beautiful vista deep in the middle of the city. The group begins to learn each other's name as cappuccinos are consumed and Naples pastries are devoured rationalizing that biking burns calories! Once well fed it was time to go visit the ruins of Pompeii. Leaving the city of Naples was a treat to the ears.

Pompeii is to the south of Naples at the base of the volcano Mt Vesuvius -- the volcano that buried the city in ash 2000 years ago. The city was hit so hard and fast that everything and everyone was frozen in time. In the 1700s the city was discovered under the ash with holes where people, furniture, animals and food had been. The archeologists had the foresight to fill the holes with plaster to preserves the forms. As a result one can see "mummified appearing" forms of the inhabitants of the city along with pottery, statues, and tools. The building themselves have been slowly excavated to reveal the city of old. Mosaic works cover the floors of several of the larger homes along with marble appearing columns. The people of Pompeii were prosperous but frugal. Marble like now was very expensive and hard to transport, so the columns were made of brick, then covered with plaster and painted to give the true appearance of the rich look of marble.

Our tour was inclusive of all the areas including a part of the ruins that are normally closed to general public. This extra treat was the result of Rosana, our Italian guide. She carries a high certification in the art of guiding, thus was trusted to take us behind the gates and fences that were built to prevent damage to the older and more fragile sections of the ruins. This privilege also came with strict rules. No flash cameras, no touching, no leaning, no loud voices -- all to prevent further damage to the ancient frescos and mosaics. Rosana took her work very seriously -- so much so that she on several occasions told other guides to get out of the way or to lower their voices or to just leave the area. One such "command" resulted in a very verbal exchange between she and a gentleman who just didn't want to be told that he couldn't do what he wanted. Rosana is Italian -- Rosana speaks with her hands and fast!! Rosana is firm and fierce. With the cell phone to her ear calling security, she waved the intruder on with such gusto that all of us stood at attention. None of us really understand Italian, but could understand every word she said. Security arrived in short order after being told that a scandal was in the making. The intruder left in a hurry yelling in a very broken English "Bullshit"!! Rosana's response: "Excusi, Thank You!!" with a horizontal sweeping hand gesture motioning the intruder away. The group has now adopted the term and gesture as the proper way to say "On your left"!!!!!!!

After Pompeii it was a bus ride to Maratea to the south of Naples by about three hours ride. The route was a winding road cut into the side of the cliffs that drop to the sea below. One side goes up, one side goes down but each holds a majestic beauty that only Nature can create. While there were times in the bus that everyone wanted to lean a little more to the left away from the drop off, the route was relatively safe with minimal traffic. This is a happy sign -- tomorrow we will be pedaling in on our bikes headed back up north!!!

Hotel Villa delle Meraviblie in Maratea is situated on a cliff overlooking the sea. The group arrived early enough to enjoy the swimming pool or sea before regrouping for dinner at a beautiful restaurant about 2 km down the coast. Italians don't eat before 8pm, so while dinner was lovely sitting out on a veranda overlooking the sea, the hour crept closer to midnight before retiring to bed. Morning can come very fast!!

Tomorrow we ride!

Waiting Patiently The Bus To Pompeii


Rosana, Our Fearless Leader in Pompeii!



Sue, Sylvia, Sharon in Pompeii Center


Frankie, Jackie, Patti

Debra, Diane, Jen, Sue and Sharon


Marilyn and Sue

Pompeii Man

Water Rats (Sharon, Frankie, Sue)

Sharon Providing the Afternoon Pool Entertainment

Marilyn and Jackie at Dinner

Our Group!