Day 8-Capua Amphitheater, Pompeii and Praiano

Day 8-Capua Amphitheater, Pompeii and Praiano

This morning, I woke up to my lovely husband cooking an amazing breakfast of eggs and Panchetta in the kitchen. You really do have to chew your own arm off to find some protein in Italy…. So finding real breakfast items in the fridge from our awesome host was amazing.  

 Since we were overlooking the amphitheater, we packed up the car so my new Facebook friend Pasquale could clean the room we stayed in. (You know me…I can make friends with a brick wall if I want to. Haha) 

This stadium was very surprising… First, it’s over 100 years older than the Colliseum in Rome. And that’s the “new” one. (The one that stands today). Apparently, there was an even older amphitheater- the first one ever- that stood here from 300BC through around 100AD when Hadrian decided to revamp and build a new amphitheater. At its height, it could seat 60,000 people and had 4 levels.

The big claim to fame is that Spartacus fought in this amphitheater… But I quickly did some math…and he didn’t. Haha

He did fight in the old one that no longer exists… Spartacus was a tribe leader of the Maidi, a small tribe of “barbarians” in Thrace around 75BC. The Romans were having a heck of a time conquering the Thrace (Macedonia area) due to the barbarians inhabiting the area.  Really they were having trouble with the Balken Celts (think big Scottish naked warriors…I imagine the Balken version wasn’t too far off from this) and a large group of Thracians called the Scordisci. The Scordisci were known to cut off their enemy’s heads and drink human blood from their skulls. Seriously. I can see why they worried the Romans. Ha

When the Romans finally figured out a new area of attack, they were able to take a lot of prisoners from these tribes like Spartacus’s that weren’t hardened Roman fighting machines.

Thracian slaves were very desirable in the gladiator circuits and the best were forced into gladiator schools, which the Capua area was famous for.

Spartacus eventually led a gladiator and slave revolt against Rome with 20,000 of his closest friends eventually…even defeating 2 Roman legions… (There’s a movie with Kirk Douglas about all this…) It is said that they were planning to cross the Alps to escape to their homeland again, but after defeating the Roman legions, they went south for who knows what reason…and Spartacus ended up dead. Not a happy ending. This was not good for his followers. To make an example to would be rebels, they strung up over 6000 bodies along the Appian Way to Rome between Rome and Capua. 

So while it is awesome that this little town is where all of that history started, and it is the site of the original amphitheater, Spartacus didn’t fight here. But it’s as close as you can get.   

 There was a cheesy recreated scene with life size gladiators in the museum. The soundtrack was not only in Italian, it was skippy and weird and just shut off halfway through. We laughed so hard. 

  
The gladiators were dressed according to their origin so that the crowds could identify them. The Thracians wore bronze helmets and shin gaurds like these.

    
    
    
     

     
 Skip the Colloseum in Rome and head here… We had the place to ourselves, the tickets were €2.50 and we got to go completely underneath the theater which was awesome. We could see the underground tunnels, the stairwells and even the areas where they would have had an elevator to lift the animals up to the fighting floor. Also, just like the colloseum supposedly this theater could be flooded for “naval battles” with the gladiators. 

 

I may or may not have yelled, “Are you not entertained??” while standing on the edge of the totally empty amphitheater.
    
    
    
    

We left Santa Maria Capua Vetere headed towards Pompeii. 

I don’t think you could get to adulthood without hearing about Pompeii but just in case: Roman city, Mt Vesuvius, 79AD, kaboom, lava, mass destruction, no more Pompeii.

(*Correction: the geologist I’m travelling with has informed me that there was no lava. The issue was the ash cloud and gas- thus lava should have said pyroclastic flow. *eyeroll* haha)

We had another McKinney-ism today. When we first started walking around Pompeii, Kegan says, “ya know, when they were building their streets and houses with volcanic rock…you think they would have questioned how that got there in the first place.” Those McKinneys..always thinking.   

    
    
  

Artist’s rendition of what this would have looked like. Hard to imagine this from what remains today.

 
  
  

  
The House of the Tragic Poet  
    
    
Kegan says, “well there’s the problem. They built everything with Legos…  

My favorite: The Suburban Baths  

  

I bet this painting of the ocean and ships was amazing at the time…because it’s still pretty bright now.  
    
  

…and I’ll just leave these erotic wall paintings right here. Yup. That is exactly what you think it is.  
    
   
After Pompeii we were going to go to Herculaneum, but Norah fell asleep on us, so we turned around and headed towards the Amalfi Coast. Herculaneum was another city ruined by Vesuvius in Naples. 

Fun fact: Naples literally turned off all of their stop lights. All of them. So it’s like a giant traffic free for all. It’s Mad Max. We Live! We Die! We Live Again! Haha

I don’t need a lot of order in my life…but I need a little more than that.

Once we got out of Naples it was gorgeous all the way over to our hotel.

   
    
  We really couldn’t even see the really high stuff because of the fog….can’t wait to get out exploring tomorrow and see what it looks like.   
  
Our apartment for the next 2 nights was awesome. Except there is no heat. Which I’m sure 360 days a year that isn’t a problem but they were getting tropical storm strength winds and rain…very uncommon for the area. At least there were really thick down comforters and with that we were all cozy for the night.

   

  

  

  

  

  The view out of the master bedroom window.

She left these really cute yellow fuzzy flowers on the towels because she says they do that here to make the towels smell good. And they did! They smelled amazing. If anyone knows what kind of flowers these are, please let me know. 

  

There was even a tray with organic homemade jams for sale. I bought most of them.Haha

There is no parking in this entire area so people just park their scooters on their roofs. It’s hilarious!

  

Our view from our terrace


  A view down the coastline from our terrace

  Looking back up towards our place

Oh, you know…just a dog hanging out on a roof on the edge of the earth gazing out over the ocean.  

  

At the recommendation of our host, Ida, we went to dinner at Kasai, a British-Italian fusion restaurant? That’s the best way I can describe it. Haha
  Norah had “chippies” that were listed on the menu as French Fries…but no complaints, she was excited.

We shared a white bean soup with calamari. Fantastic.

 Deep fried anchovies 

I had my first true Italian Spritz. Aperol, white wine, club soda and an orange slice…it was drinkable but I still think I prefer Campari.

Kegan’s fish came to the table whole and the waitress cut off the head and tail and fixed it up for him. I was so excited about mine I ate it before I took a picture of it. Haha I had beef medallions with flakes of Parmesan cheese. It was great. 

Of course everyone loved Norah. The owner even turned on some techno type eighties dance music and they danced together. 

Then the waitress distracted her while we ate. They loved having her in there.   

Next thing I know she’s in the kitchen with 3 big Italian chef guys smiling at her and she’s making a pizza. Our waitress said she was “incredible” as I apologized profusely for the 2nd pizza dough Norah grabbed and tried to make as well. They wouldn’t let me pay for pizza though because they were the ones who wanted her back there… Italians. They did send us with the 2 pizza doughs though for lunch tomorrow! Haha Norah is absolutely beside herself waiting to make that pizza and eat it. lol

We hauled the two bottles from Montepulciano up the 3 flights of stairs and we opened the 2008 for the evening. We may drink the old one tomorrow….but I’m more of a wine hoarder than a wine drinker and I never want to drink them once I buy them. I just want to collect them. Haha so Kegan may have to pry it out of my hands. 

Tomorrow we have an easy day for exploring the Amalfi coast so I’m not sure how many adventures I’ll have to share- but I’ll try to come up with a few. 🙂
  

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