Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pompeii, Napoli and Papardelle

Photos (Lexi Van de Walle) in Pompeii and Naples: Fish Mosaic (garum sauce); Bakery oven and wheat grinder; Statue of Apollo, Ancient Roman Wine shop with vessel, Fresco of an advertisement for fresh fish and baked bread, Temple of Jupiter, statue and Mt. Vesuvius. 
10:30 We arrive in Pompeii to be greeted by Alphonso the hyper kinetic, very friendly owner of Torres Travel, and Carolina our guide for the day. Highly recommend Torres for day trips and tours of Naples, Amalfi Coast and Pompeii areas. We enjoyed out lunch at Il Principe, including a glass of Prosecco to ring in the New Year! And, after lunch we visited the Archeology Museum in Naples where many of the original Pompeii works are on permanent exhibit. 

Pompeii, an ancient Roman resort town outside of Naples near the Bay of Naples in the Campania region, really deserves a few days of exploring but we managed to cover quite a bit in two hours.  As I wondered through the cobblestone streets (you need sturdy walking shoes), I had thoughts of Pliny the Elder, the naturalist, who died in Pompeii on August 24, 79 AD likely from the toxic gases from the volcano. The account of his death are well documented by Pliny the Younger, his nephew. 

Ancient villas with peristyle courtyards, mosaics including the famous battle of Alexander the Great at the House of Faun, fountains, frescos, bakeries and meat markets, grand court houses, temples, baths, statues of Greek and Roman gods and goddesses, wine shops, meat markets, the brothel with built-in beds, and plaster casts of the dead. 

On the forum, the sinister Mt. Vesuvious provided a back drop to the Temple of Jupiter -- a reminder of all the death and destruction from the eruption of 79 AD. 

Il Principe, owned by Pina and Marco Carli, offers an elegant dining experience that honors the foods of ancient Rome and traditional Neapolitan cooking and features Pompeii style jewelry, mosaics and frescos. Marco spent some time telling us about the restaurant, and shared some news articles about him cooking for Bill Clinton and George W. Bush (Il Principe (the Prince) should change its name to Presidente!) Senor Carli has an intellectual approach to capturing Imperial Rome in his cuisine even collaborating with the Archeology Museum of Pompeii. Tempted to try the garam, ancient fish sauce made from rotted anchovies and olive oil, I chose the homemade pappardelle with wild boar ragu and to start I had white bean and escarole soup which was a thick, hearty dish. 

Piazza Bartolo Longo, 8
Pompei (NA) 
39 081 850.55.66
Garam, or fish sauce, is the ancient Roman version of the English Worchestershire sauce or Vietnamese Nham Pla. Made from rotted fish, typically anchovies or mackerel. First used in 7th or 8th century BC, Garum production was a large source of revenue in ancient Pompeii. Used by slaves and emperors alike, garum was a popular flavor used daily like salt. 
According to Encyclopaedia Britannica's biography of Pliny the Elder's books on Natural History: "Book XVIII, on agriculture, is especially important for agricultural techniques such as crop rotation, farm management, and the names of legumes and other crop plants. His description of an ox-driven grain harvester in Gaul, long regarded by scholars as imaginary, was confirmed by the discovery in southern Belgium in 1958 of a 2nd-century stone relief depicting such an implement. Moreover, by recording the Latin synonyms of Greek plant names, he made most of the plants mentioned in earlier Greek writings identifiable. "

Torres Travel s.r.l
Via Mazzini 7 BIS
Pompei (na) 80045

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