My book decided to visit some (many) touristy/educational things while in Italy, and one of those places was the city of Pompeii. When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79, it buried the Roman city of Pompeii under sixty feet of ash. Because of its rapid destruction/burial it was extraordinarily well preserved, so, when it was then found and excavated, it gave historians, and now visitors, incredible insight into the daily details of Roman life. Here's my book on a curbside in Pompeii.
Vesuvius in the background of the ruins.
I won't give you a detailed history lesson, but since I tend to focus on all things sex related here, I figured these details would be pertinent. So, suffice to say that Pompeii was a port city, and when the sailors came home, one of the main, and first things, they looked for was some company. The brothels (Lupanare, from Lupe for she-wolf) were clearly marked on the roads and building. Instead of using street signs, they used a fairly universal and recognizable symbol.
Once inside the Lupanare, you can see the rooms with stone beds and erotic paintings on the walls, very well preserved, still in color. It's not clear if the paintings are directly advertising specific services, or if they're just meant as inspiration.
Another thing that set me right with these ancient inhabitants of Pompeii? They had these bars all over the place. Good folks, indeed.
Once you're south enough to visit Pompeii, you may as well make a day or two out of it and go visit the Amalfi coast. The Amalfi coast is the southern side of the Sorrentine peninsula facing the Gulf of Salerno and it encompases many towns, including Positano. It is, as is much of Italy, mountainous, with narrow, spiraling roads and gorgeous cliffside scenery overlooking the Gulf part of the Tyrrhenean sea.
I wish I had another picture of this railing, because just off to the left you can see a large portion of the bars covered in padlocks. They're locks of love, which are also starting to pop up around Rome near the Trevi fountain and certain areas near the Tiber. Lovers come and afix a padlock to a gate or post and then toss the key into the sea or river, signifying eternal love. It's a cute theory, but in practice, the locks can accumulate to such an extent that they'll start bending and ruining the gates and railings and many of them end up having to be cut off anyhow. Kind of makes you wonder about the fate of the relationships whose lock gets cut. Also? Any other fiction writers out there reading this -- back off, it's my idea to use next for a book! Anyhow, the views from the coast just keep getting better than this.
The water, on clear days, ranges from gorgeous shades of nearly-clear cyan to azure.
One of the things they grow really well on the Amalfi Coast (and Capri) is lemons. At first, I thought they were bright grapefruits. This may seem like a dumb detail, but all will be revealed.
Once you've driven and walked down the seemingly endlessly winding downhill slopes, you get to the town of Positano, which is a big tourist destination for visitors and Italians alike, due to the beaches, boating, and awesome seafood.
When you turn around and look up from the beach, it's an equally impressive sight to see the buildings built into the side of the mountains. I couldn't wrap my mind around how they even were able to build the damn things, getting the materials where they needed to be.
Here's more of those lemons, which are highly prevalent. And you can get everything lemon: lemon candy, lemon chocolate, lemon gelato, lemon soap, ect.
But here's the best, and most ubiquitous, product from the lemons: Limoncello! Awesome! You can find all different limoncello shops, and many of them offer free samples!
And once you're socked on the limoncello, you can take boat rides to enjoy the views. Just, make sure it's a calm day if you do that, otherwise you may have lemon foam all over the side of your boat.
I know these posts seem to be going on for an eternity, but coming up next is the Eternal City.