Arriving in Pollena

Yesterday, I made my way to the first project I will be participating in this summer, the Apolline Project, located outside of Naples, Italy (specifically, the town of Pollena Trocchia).

I flew with Meridiana Air and I must admit I got everything I paid for (which is to say not much). Thanks to Google Flights, in February, I had found a ridiculously cheap (approx. $310) one-way ticket to Naples Capodichino Airport from JFK in New York City. The flight wasn’t full, and space was available to stretch out; however, people were pretty talkative, making sleep difficult. There also wasn’t much to do on the plane as it was outdated, making device usage a strategic game of batter life decisions. Fortunately, my tablet was charged and loaded with just enough movies to keep me occupied between naps and just enough Livy to put me to sleep between movies. The crew was very friendly and accommodating. All in all, I’d say I everything worked out fine.

After getting stamped at Passport Control and picking up my bags (I checked two large bags for this trips, yikes!), I was greeted by the project’s director Girolamo Ferdinando de Simone. He went for a handshake, I gave him a hug. It was awkward but what can I say, I was very happy to see him. He drove us to the dig house in Pollena Trocchia with the typical Neopolitan daredevil driving: dashing through forked intersections at the centers of various neighborhoods.

I have to admit, our conversation gave me butterflies. Apparently, I had missed an email updating project supervisors (of which I am one this season) and participants about permit struggles with the local bureaucrat, forcing a change in plans. Instead of waiting until September to commence excavation of a new site further inland in Campania called Aeclanum, Ferdinando has opted to go early and return to the excavation of the baths in Pollena once the permits have been issued. This is a pretty exciting development, as Aeclanum represents an entire Roman settlement that to date has only been 30% excavated and studied.

We arrived in Pollena before 7am. The other participants who had arrived earlier were still asleep or were off on trips around the Naples area. I took a moment to peruse around the dig house, evoking all the memories of good times with friends from last season. I popped up to the rooftop to grab a shot of Somma-Vesuviana, the mountain that lies at the heart of the region’s lively history looming overhead.

This will be a good season.


The view from the plane on approach to Naples as the sun rises
Somma-Vesuviana, the volcano responsible for activity including the 79 AD Pompeii eruption, as seen from the roof of The Apolline Project’s dig house.

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