Tuesday, 13 October 2009


It seems hard to believe it has almost been a month since the last post... There is some responsible adulthood in this trip too I guess...
Pompeii. It is only about a half an hour from us. The brief history lesson is Mt Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD burying the city in ash (not a lava flow). The city didn't even realize they were living next to a volcano. There are a number other regular mountains around Vesuvius.
We got there at about 10 AM. Very touristy so you can speak whatever language you want. We chose to do a self guided tour using the free map and hand out the site gives and the trusty Rick Steves book. I don't think we'd do it any other way. The tours were 1) expensive and 2) seemed really fast paced.
You start off coming across a bridge to the entrance, a set of double arches. A larger arch originally open during the day so more people could come and go, and a smaller one for at night for easier security. Right away you are amazed. Everything is well preserved. This was a big city! You can easily spend a full day, morning to night, here. Probably a couple if you really wanted to just explore and take in all the homes. Very organized streets (N/S, E/W). Homes built together, side by side. Some huge homes. Ceramic work, marble carvings, bronze statues, frescos (paintings)... You go in knowing the city was buried but then you come across the first of a few bodies. Very humbling. I can't really see it as a good way to go. The bodies now are molds cast by filling in the hollow spot the decayed bodies left. Scary detail (I'll attach a shot).
To give you an idea of how developed it was 2500 years ago... There were about 90 "fast food" bars through the city. A large square where voting took place, legal offices, the basilica (interesting enough the word was for the courthouse prior to it becoming associated with the church), and markets were located. Two amphitheatres and a coliseum. Ruts in the road where carts wore down the stone. The sidewalks had little pieces of marble in them so at night you could use the reflection of the moon to see where you were going. Lead piping system for plumbing and an elaborate aqueduct system. Art... Carvings, paintings, tile work that was incredible. Its easy to get wrapped up in life and think we're so "civilized". And then you see a thriving town from so long ago...
Definitely worth going back to.