Pienza, the small Tuscan village where Pope Pius II lived is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Pope Pius was responsible for the construction of this town using urban renaissance design and an architect named Bernardo Gamberelli. Also of note, it is famous for it’s wonderful Pecorino cheese!
Located in the Val d’Orcia, the surrounding beauty is unparalleled. We walked around the lovely little town taking special note of the main piazza where the church and the papal residence.
There is a lovely walk around the outside wall of the town with spectacular views.
Pienza is also famous for its wonderful Pecorino cheese and there are many individual shops selling it throughout the village.
We searched for just the right spot to capture the sunset, but the wall ends on the East side of the town. We took the car to the bottom of the village where the wheat fields and wild flowers where blowing in the breezes to get these wonderful shots.
The Archeological Museum located in Naples is a “must see” if you are planning to go to Pompeii. Even if you are not, it is extremely interesting and the treasures contained there are phenomenal! Pompeii was excavated in the 1800’s and the king of Naples at the time requested that everything of value be brought immediately to him! So, they were and are all located in this museum. When you visit Pompeii, you will see replicas, or references to the items in this museum, so it really helps put things into context….and depending on what time of year you go, is a nice reprieve from the hot sun and concrete in Pompeii.
The museum building itself I must say is in terrible condition! Being from Florence, I found this a great and terrible travesty. There are empty, dirty rooms, things that need immediate attention (broken tiles and water stains) and the actual displays could use a good curator! Aside from the ramshackle appearance, you will be amazed.
The museum is easy to get to from the train station by walking, or by subway. The cost is 12 euro, cash only and they are open from 9-7:30 p.m. every day except Tuesday, when they are closed.
There are incredible statues, mosaics, and frescoes, from the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D. We are talking true antiquities! My favorite, of course those who know me won’t be surprised, is the Gabinetto Segreto (secret room). This room contains a huge assortment of “erotic art” such as frescoes, pottery of penises and with penises, statues having sex in a variety of creative positions, and much creative phallic art.
Go see the museum, and then….off to Pompeii!
Pompeii, once a city of over 20,000 people of Greek and Etruscan origin, and founded in 600 B.C. became a very important Roman port city. With the eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79 (August 24th to be exact) the city was buried under 30 feet of volcanic ash. Many people evacuated the city, but the ones that did not, were buried alive in the matter of a few minutes.The city was discovered by archeologists in 1599, but excavations did not begin until 1748. This was my second visit, and it is really amazing. The city in its heyday had over 40 bakeries, 30 brothels, 130 bars, restaurants and hotels. There are also many impressive bath houses. It is incredibly impressive, and boy were those folks smart! The plumbing, drainage, buildings, and overall city layout are awe inspiring.The best art was taken into Naples once the excavations begin, so it is important to take a trip to the Archeological Museum located in Naples, and I think it is best to do that first.You can get to Pompeii from the Circumvesuvius train. It leaves from Naples every ½ hour and is about a 30 minute trip. The cost of the train is 2,10. We stored our luggage at the train station in Pompeii for 2 euro. We also used Rick Steve’s walking tour of the location. There are guided tours available, as well as audio guides which you can purchase at a kiosk near the ticket booth. We were in the site for 4 hours. There are bathrooms and a cafeteria. It can get very hot on the excavation site which is most stone and marble, so wear a hat and bring some water!Pompeii is 164 acres and ¾ of it have been excavated! It is one of the most amazing sites I have ever seen! Check it out for yourself!