The Italian Diaries – Pompeii

Pompeii is filled with wonder, just as you would imagine. In 79 AD, Mt. Vesuvius erupted and destroyed everything in its path. The ruins of Pompeii are still standing today, and it’s really amazing to walk down the streets and think about what life was like 2000 years ago. I’ve been there 4 times, and I still haven’t even scratched the surface of all there is to see.


A couple of important things to know about Pompeii before you visit. First, there is the actual town of Pompeii. Within this town, you have the gated ruins of Pompeii, which is a tourist attraction that you pay to get into. The actual town of Pompeii is NOT a good area. It’s very sketchy. One of the times I visited with my family, we got ripped off in the parking lot. We paid the “parking lot attendant” who showed us where to park, then all of a sudden he broke out into a sprint. Yea, he didn’t work there. We then had to pay the actual parking lot attendant. And this was with my Italian-speaking relatives.

But the ruins are well worth the trip.


Keep in mind, when you are walking through the ruins, it is hot. Take what you imagine hot to be and multiply it be 5. It’s that hot. You are entirely out in the open without any shade or cover. The sun is just beating down on stone. All day. IT’S FREAKEN HOT, YO! Bring water, lots of it.


Next – the bathrooms are scarce and there is only one place to eat inside the grounds. And that place is not that good. My recommendation? Eat right outside of the grounds. You’ll find vendors, similar to American food trucks, that make delicious paninis. They are also selling lots of little trinkets related to the ruins and volcanoes. And if you’re in the mood to negotiate, you can barter with the vendors and get souvenirs for much cheaper than inside.

OK – now to the actual ruins.


It’s quite stunning to see Mt. Vesuvius looming in the background of the towering pillars that once made an alter to worship the gods.


Tucked away in the ruins are houses with intricate carvings and details.


Something that has always been fascinating to me are the casts of the bodies. The volcanic ash literally preserved bodies in their moments of death.


Sounds morbid, I know, but quite fascinating to see.


It’s also pretty amazing to see some of the marble statues that are still perfectly in tact since 79 AD.


There is an amphitheater where shows were presented to the people of Pompeii.


And even a colosseum where gladiators performed for the crowds.


Sadly, the colosseum has become quite overgrown, but you can still imagine its magnitude.


Pompeii is filled with so many mysteries. The ruins, the volcano, the story behind the people are all so fascinating that Pete and I gobble up any new information we can find about it. We’re constantly seeking out books and documentaries that tell us more.


You’ll just have to visit and see for yourself. But remember, wear a hat and drink lots of water!

Next stop…Ravello!


Travel Guide

Whew- I’ve been writing a lot of travel related posts lately, but there’s been so much swirling through my mind and I wanted to be sure I documented it all! On our recent trip to Tampa, I realized there’s a recurring list of items that I always forget to pack. So much so that every single time Pete and I have traveled, I find saying, “I can’t believe I forgot that again!” This time we got smart and made a list of items as we realized them. I hope that by documenting them on the blog, I’ll never forget them again!

PicMonkey Collage

01: Umbrella / I’m sure there’s people out there who love rain, but I’m not one of them. I’ll be ducking under an umbrella the second a light drizzle falls. That is, if I remember the umbrella! When Pete and I went on our honeymoon to St. Lucia, there were intermittent showers everyday. Same when we went to Tampa. So having an umbrella would’ve been quite helpful!

02: Watch / When traveling in the United States, this isn’t much of a big deal because we all use our cell phones to see what time it is. However, when in Italy, Canada, and St. Lucia I did not have my watch and therefore never knew what time it was. Usually we’re around people who could fill us in, but when I have a perfectly good Coach watch, this shouldn’t be something I’m forgetting!

03: Hand Sanitizer / I’ve seen my share of nasty bathrooms while traveling, especially out of the country. Rooms where you don’t want to touch anything, even the sink. Or places, like Boston, where you travel mainly using a subway system. It’s always good to have a mini hand sanitizer throw in your purse for such situations.

04: Hats / The crazy hat lady requests not only panama hats and fedoras, but baseball caps as well. When I workout, I typically like the throw on a baseball hat, especially in places with high heat. In Tampa, I borrowed my father-in-laws and realized I should’ve brought one of my own.

05: Sperry Top Siders / This is the one thing I’ve never remembered to pack and every time had wished I’d brought them. I would wear my Sperry’s everyday if I could…and mainly do Spring-Fall. They are so comfortable for walking, which we do a ton of on vacations. So help me if I forget them when we go to Europe next summer!

What is on your list of items you always forget to pack? Or items that are essential?

Tampa Day 1: Clearwater Beach

A few months ago, Pete’s parents moved to Tampa, Florida. His brother Derek has already lived there for several years and now their parents do as well! We started planning our trip to visit them pretty much right when they closed on their house and have been looking forward to it ever since. Pete and I flew out Friday after work and arrived in Tampa late Friday night. We arrived to Pete’s parent’s house around 10:30.


Luckily, his brother and two daughters came over and we got to spend some time with them despite the lateness. We were up till almost 2 am! Finally, sleep kicked in but we were excited for the day ahead. Unfortunately when we woke up the weather wasn’t the best…cloudy with some intermittent showers. That didn’t stop us from planning a great day though!

First, we headed over to Clearwater Beach.


The beach was absolutely beautiful.



Smooth white sand, quiet, clean…just breathtaking.


We took a lot of great pictures with the family…


…and also got to see some dolphins!


Hard to tell in the picture but they were everywhere, just darting up and down in the water. So cool to see that up close.

After exploring on the beach for awhile, we walked over to Hooters for lunch. We had a great seat in the outdoor section with a view of the water and some palm trees.


Pete and I split wings and fries for lunch.


The wings were really good coated in a Thai Chili sauce. Spicy!

After lunch, we drove over to a place called Celebration Station. A go-kart rematch was in order from the last time Pete visited. What cracks me up is the relationship between Pete, his dad, and his brother- they were trash talking the whole way there about who was going to spin out who!


Poor Lexi, Pete’s niece, was the one who ended up getting spun out first!


Not to worry though- Derek, Pete’s brother, got their dad in the second round!

After go-karts, we all went back to Derek’s for some drinks and pizza.


I gotta tell ya, Florida pizza ain’t got nothing on New Jersey pizza!

It was such a great first day and really nice to spend time with the family. See you tomorrow with a Day 2 recap!

Have you ever seen dolphins up close?