June 26, 2019: Pompeii

Wednesday. GT2 Day Eighteen. Orvieto, Umbria, Italy.

Despite the insane level of heat that we experienced all night, I actually got a great night’s sleep. The best night’s sleep that my watch has ever recorded. Which I have only had for less than a month so that is hardly some astounding record, but my best sleep in a month is still pretty nice. Over four hours of deep sleep, and nearly five more hours of light sleep on top of that. The bed here and the breeze were really nice, even though it was so warm, and the constant noise of the busy city street outside is comforting to me. Of course, conditions that make me sleep well make it impossible for anyone else to sleep. So all three girls got terrible sleep last night.

We were up and ready to leave early. No one wanted to hang out in the hot apartment with little Internet access longer than we needed to. And we want to get to Pompeii as early as possible so that it will be as cool as can be.

The drive from the apartment to Pompeii was super easy, maybe ten minutes. Once they get the apartment completed with working kitchen and AC installed, we would highly recommend it for access to Pompeii. Very easy.

Pompeii was surprisingly easy to deal with. We found great parking for just ten Euros right by one of the entrances.

Pompeii was amazing. But it was so hot that I could not do the Rick Steves’ Audio Tour that the girls were doing. I need my ears free for cooling, and the sweat would short out any headphones. So I just walked along and looked at everything and plan to do the tour later, but soon while the site is still fresh in my mind. I have the tour loaded up on my MP3 player, I just decided that it was best to save it for later and just focus on looking at the site while I am here.

There are no words to really describe the scale and impact of Pompeii. It is just huge, sobering, and amazing. I can’t recommend it enough, but I also can’t recommend enough doing it on a cool day off season. The crowds were heavy, but not horrible.

We put in three hours at Pompeii which was about all that we can do in the heat. If it was not so hot and the crowds were a bit thinner, I could easily spend a full day or more there. But as it was, I was glad to be going. I am sure that we will be back here when Liesl and Luciana are bigger.

We left Pompeii and were too hot to get food. We got our car and got on the road and were straight on our way to Umbria. Today we didn’t make the same mistake as yesterday and used the A1 tollway across Italy which moved very quickly.

On our way to Orvieto we went past a rest stop on the tollway that had a Burger King and decided to stop as the girls were hungry and finding food that makes them happy is hard to do. It was an easy stop. And the service was great, and honestly it had to be the best Big King Fish that I’ve ever gotten. So I was pretty happy with the choice in the end.

We arrived in Orvieto in the late afternoon. Orvieto is an extreme hill town requiring you to drive up a mountain and if you drive into town at all you are into navigating some extremely difficult streets. The town is not meant for non-residents to drive there. We drove some extreme streets and got potentially stuck. So Dominica called the host of our AirBnB and he walked down and found us and told us to keep going the way that we were. He jumped into the car in the back seat to help to direct us as the drive was so extreme.

This was the tightest street driving that Madeline and Emily got to witness. Stone walls with just inches for us to fit through. Very stressful, but we made it through just fine.

We finally drove out of town, and back in, and found a temporary parking place in a small piazza near our apartment. Then our host walked us to the apartment and we got settled in and dropped off our luggage. The apartment is really nice. Three air conditioners, a nice kitchen that actually works, a good bedroom for us and another for the girls, great views into a classic renaissance era courtyard. Very classic, the real thing. We really like this one.

We were barely into the apartment when Emily decided that we were going to do the Terme di Saturnia, the hot springs that we learned about from watching Vagabrothers. It is actually in Tuscany about an hour and a half away, but we are closer while in Orvieto than we will be later on in the trip. Emily really wants to do it, so we got back into the car, figured out how to escape town (after a few scary and hilarious loops through town where it seemed like we were trapped and could not leave) and got onto the road.

The drive to Saturnia was all back roads through the country, but pretty nice. We got there with no problem. Doing it in the evening is the recommended time from some travel guides. And with the heat the way that it is, that made sense today. The last thing that we want to have to do is to get up at four in the morning to drive out here. None of us want to be getting up super early.

We got to Saturnia and started with a photoshoot before I could get into the water because I needed to put the camera back in the car to keep it safe from the sulfur fumes. It was a bit tricky to do the shoot, but I think that it turned out well. Then I returned and got into the spring myself.

The hot springs at Saturnia is pretty cool. The water is only just above body temperature so it isn’t like you ever get burned on it or feel the need to get out. It’s just like a warm bath that is flowing. It is really pretty. There were a lot of people there, but it was not over crowded. The four of us hung out for about two hours in the springs. Emily, Madeline, and I even ventured up and got into the waterfall that feeds the pools. The pressure of the water coming down was really intense and soothing.

The drive back to Orvieto was hard. It was dark, I was heavily fatigued from a long day of driving already, was intense Italian back roads, and my glasses are blurry from the sulfur water. So the result was a painful drive back that was all that I could do to make it.

When we returned to Orvieto, it was really late. We could not park up in the town without me having to get up really early in the morning to move the car. So we put it straight in the parking garage now, took the elevator up to town, and walked to our apartment. The girls were starving, but did not have the energy to go out for food. We had to be fast as everything was going to be already closed. So Dominica and I ran out searching for food.

We got lucky that we found a cafeterria that had closed, but that had not fully closed down yet and they had pre-made sandwiches that had not yet been thrown out. We bought four from them of whatever they had and took that back to the apartment for our dinner. Four white bread sandwiches from the end of the day pile was our first meal in Umbria.

Tomorrow is our day to see Orvieto itself. It’s supposed to be a super gorgeous town. We only saw a small portion of it tonight, but it seems really cool.