I’m sick, and cranky, but I promised myself I would post this before the week was over. So, onwards and upwards, to Pompeii!
Pompeii is surrounded by beauty; Mt.Vesuvius, a strip of snow-capped mountains, and lastly the sea of Naples.
I completely understand why Roman aristocrats built their summer villas here.
Fair warning for future visitors, you’ll need to plan out a whole day to explore the ruins. That is- if you want to see it all. I’d also recommend taking a tour. Because there is no way you will be able to catch everything on your own.
Unfortunately, because I was visiting for school purposes, I didn’t get to wander as much as I would have liked. Taking notes, whilst being ushered from location to location is no way to experience something this grand.
We started our day at the Eastern entrance, walking through the amphitheater.
Next we strolled through the Eastern Necropolis, tombs, and actually entered the city. The more ornate the tomb, the more important, aka rich, the person was.
(At first glance, I thought they were just elaborate Hobbit holes.)
The view of Vesuvius smacks you square in the face as soon as you step through the remaining arch.
The foundation was raised above ground-level, in order to keep the city dry.
You’ll notice the stepping-stones popping up on every street, used to make it easier to cross them; if you look closely you can still see the imprints left by carts.
City life boomed during the 2nd century B.C. with the Etruscans from North, and Greeks from the South, converging together in architecture and civil life.
Life was brought to a screeching halt in 62 A.D, when a massive earthquake destroyed much of the city; the foreboding sign of eruption.
Most of the buildings had to be restored. Evidence of this restoration is in the addition of wall art in homes and villas.
Vesuvius erupted on August 24, 79(AD). Most of the population evacuated, only about 10-15% perished; mainly from gas poisoning.
Littered throughout the city are the varying plaster figures, recovered by the genius of Giuseppe Fiorelli. (Sorry for the reflection, didn’t have time to play with lighting)
No one expected the eruption, or the poisonous sulfur-ash mix that would eventually coat their lungs and end their lives. It’s sad to think pride and ignorance were a main factor in the deaths of innocence people.
An interesting record of the proceedings, and mindset, of the time is this letter.
Written by Pliny(the younger), nephew of admiral Pliny(the elder), to Roman historian, Tacitus, detailing the death of his uncle and the horrors of the disaster.
The Flavian emperor of Rome sent experts to uncover the city, an impossible task.
For over 1,500 years Pompeii was buried beneath layers of pyroclastic materials, covered by the foliage that bloomed in the fertile soil.
Fun Fact: There is a ‘secret’ cabinet in the Naples Archeology Museum, full of artifacts found in Pompeii. It was a secret, because when the archaeologists uncovered the city, they were beside-themselves with horror at the obscene artwork found all over the city. They were so embarrassed, that they had most of it locked away, allowing only very important men to look up them. Now everyone can, but I thought it was hilarious.
Before the eruption Pompeii was a thriving Roman town. Shops and bars lined the streets. Imperial-age villas, baths, theaters built throughout. Life was grand. No one expected the brutality, and raw power, of Mother Nature.
If you ever plan on visiting Italy, please make time to visit Pompeii. The ruins are magnificent, mountainous views breath-taking, and Naples is only a short drive away. Can’t ask for much more than that.