Tuesday October 16th
Awoke just before Dawn & walk’d up to the spot – no bag. My one compensation is thinking some Italian would put the magic mushrooms in a stew! After a quick breakfast I set off to climb the mountain overlooking the harbor, picking up another dog en route. Got almost to the top, baskin’ in the glorious views, working on my notes & stroking my new buddy. I took a different descent & almost lost the dog to the waves at a particularly steep bit of trail. Once in port, I bought my ticket off the island. It is a darling place but I’ve got to move on – tho’ it’s reassuring to know it’s gonna be exactly the same when I return.
Potter’d about for the next three hours, gorgin’ on the tranquility, nearly missin’; mi boat in the process. The ship was open-deck’d & very nice, but I was a little disturb’d by this wide-eyed nutter prowlin’ the ship. He decided to jump overboard half-way thro’ (molto funny!) & after the ship did a great 360 to pick him up he was then lock’d up, smiling inanely, & I could finally relax all the way back to the mainland. Formia stunk of fish, so I quickly jump’d down to Naples. A big, busy city, it felt a little strange to be among so much cut & thrust after Ponza’s serenity.
Managed to get directed to a campsite a few K down the coast at Puzzoli, right beside a former volcano. It is still spewing out Sulphur, giving the whole area the stink of rotting eggs. Pitch’d tent & walk’d about the suburb; a little dirty but the seafront is lined with funky bars. After a rowdy boogie with the locals I stagger’d back to my tent & sleep.
Wednesday October 17th
Woke late & breakfasted by the sulphuric steam of the Solfatara. I chill’d, absorbing the Doctor Who landscape til 11, when I set off into Naples. The city was bustling like mad, & also very dirty – quite unlike Tuscany’s cleanliness. Took a wander thro’ the markets & this exited me… so much energy. Today’s mission was Pompeii & I jump’d a train for the short hop, all the time watch’d by the imposing grandeur of Vesuvius.
From Pompeii town I meander’d to the ruins & managed to sneak in via the tradesman entrance! I found myself at the amphitheater, amazing in itself, but once I began to wander the city I was taken aback. The ruins are the most well-preserv’d I have ever seen, & spread out over a huge area. I was there a good few hours, one of which was spent with the fossilized remains of Romans (xvi). The ‘stone’ had chipp’d off one guys toes & you could see his bone – a pretty fascinating sight.
The jump back was easy, as are all the trains in Italy. Once within Naples’ boisterous streets I managed to stumble across a copy of yesterday’s ‘Sun.’ After feasting on English language & pasta I made my way back to camp for a pleasant evening’s de-tox & chill. Of course, if I hadn’t have lost the shrooms in Ponza I would probably have taken ‘em tonight.
Thursday October 18th
Woke b4 8 & caught a bus around the other side of Naples to see Lake Averno. Its very dramatic setting is within an ancient bowl of a volcano, & one can see why the poet Virgil thought it was the entrance to the underworld. After this, I tried to find the ruins of Camu, but got lost & steadily piss’d off as the cars on the road I was walking slowly eroded my sensibilities. Back at the site, I quickly changed, dined & set off under the mid-day sun.
Caught a bus into Naples & left the city – I’m not too bother’d about saying farewell. I read somewhere that a man should see Naples & then die – why? It stinks! I actually had to get off my arse & perform a TJ to Cassino (obviously successfully) & soon pull’d into a town dominated by the surrounding mountains, including one topp’d by the Abbazio which caus’d the Allies so much annoyance in 1943-44 (xvii). Potter’d around town for a bit, searchin’ 4 supplies (nuthin open). Cassino offers a stark contrast to Naples, very clean & reekin’ of money only.
Managed to find some bread & wine & began my ascent to the abbey. The road was a twisty one so I decided to go straight up. The climb was arduous over the broken, rocky terrain (result of the Allied bombings perhaps?) but with a final surge thro’ brambles I reach’d the road at the top. However, I was not the clean young man of the bottom of the mountain, for my clothes were torn, my skin dirty & my hair all over the place. This seem’d to put the monks off letting me stay in the abbey, & I was directed to the olive laden gardens. There, I pitch’d my tent by an old woodman’s hut, got the fire going & spent a very poetic night writing by firelight & drinkin vino…