Monday, June 11, 2012

A Day in Pompeii

Glorious, Seductive Pompeii...
I say seductive because of the fascination and lure I have for anything old and timeless. I love the history woven around this Ancient Roman city. Once famous for it's exotic lifestyle, I found there is so much more behind this mysterious Lost City.
The city of Pompeii as it greets
 you when you first enter.
It was the year AD79 - 1,933 years ago, and the city of Pompeii was buried beneath 13 - 20 ft of ash and pumice that came from the nearby Volcano of Mt Vesuvius when she erupted.
The buried city was 1st rediscovered in 1749 and there are excavations still going on.
Excavations still today!
In 2010 DH and I visited the amazing ruins. It is a sight that I shall long remember and would love to have the opportunity to revisit it again. My biggest surprise was the size of the city. It is far larger than I ever thought or could have imagined.
Mt Vesuvius in the background.

This Amphitheater is
supposed to be the oldest one we know.

Like most of Rome itself and all of Italy, I was terribly humbled to have walked streets and visited places that Caesars, Emperors and Kings had -2000years before. 
As our tour bus had to leave Rome at 6am it was a long day trip south. There really is too much to see and take in, in one long day visit. We only had about 4 hours to explore the ruins and it really wasn't near enough-(for me anyway.)
The work it has taken to uncover the vast streets, amphitheater, amazing homes of the wealthy and the common people, is truly a magnificent feat.
This is a corner shop.
It is the equivalent to a milk-bar
in our time. AMAZING.
Apparently there were 100's of snack shops, where the Pompeian's would meet their friends or buy take a way food - just like we do.  Imagine that.
Tiles still on the floor
There are many frescoes still on the walls of the homes of the wealthy, and most are alive with rich colours after all this time.
Vivid Frescoes

A Bath House

To the left is A foyer, with the beautiful mosaic floor tiles featuring sea-creatures. To the right you look into the rest of the house and see the inner court-yard or central meeting room, I guess like our modern family room with other rooms and hallways branching off it. We were told this home belonged to a very rich family.
A Picture of a bed in a room
in one of the most famous brothels
in Pompeii.

There are many places off limits to the public, which is understandable, but we were taken into the *Red-Light* district, a popular tourist stop, as the city was known for it's many brothels. The detail of the erotic paintings and drawings can still be seen on the walls. Apparently the inside was not lavishly furnished, the beds were mostly made of brick or stone with a mattress laid on top.

The name of the Family of the home,
was inscribed on an outside wall.
Walking the small empty streets of Pompeii is incredibly moving. It wasn't all bustling and full of excited gossip as you'd expect, but a more somber gathering. I felt like everyone was taking in this magical surrounding in quiet personal contemplation. In awe! As we all know today, the early Romans were so far ahead of their time.
 SO much was fascinating for me.
You see these large stones in a row, going across the middle of the road. When it rained the roads became one huge drain or gutter for the water to flow, they were like small rivers throughout the city.  To get  across the street people walked on top of these *stepping stones* Ingenious you say, well that's not all. The Roman/Pompeian's were so clever in their town planning, that the carts being pulled around the city were built specifically so the axle was the perfect width for the cart wheels to go either side of the middle stone. SO they were able to continue to work in the rain.
How amazing is that?  Wish my road was like that at times ...

Everywhere, wandering around the ruins of the city, were stray dogs. They were quite friendly, although quiet flea bitten and mangy. When we asked about why they were let to wander, it is because the dogs will be the first indication to the people there of another tremor from the volcano. Apparently they will start to bark, howl go crazy or whatever.
Good reason to keep them around I guess :)

Of course we all were blown away when we arrived at the place where the plaster casts of human bodies, found among the ash, were on display.
This place was really quite Errie. The famous cast of a dog that the archaeologists believe was chained outside it's owners house.

A narrow, now lonely, street

We did have a guide for this trip, she was an older Dutch Lady. And I have to say, that of all the wonderful, friendly guides on the trips we've done to various countries, I have to say she was the worst one we've ever had. We were obviously of the lower class of city inhabitants. She was rude, no sense of humour, stuffy, pompous and had apparently left her people skills (if she had any)  at home. Having said that, she was fairly knowledgeable on the topic of Pompeii and that was all that really mattered.  Maybe she should be in a university instead.
So I have mostly used what I learnt on this visit to enhance a little of your knowledge here. I do apologize if some of the information I have entered here may not be 100% correct, but it was how it has been told to me at the time. Feel free to enlighten me, but there is much more to discover about Pompeii on the Web or by other sources, if you wish.

As the Temple stands today              
The original Temple of Jupiter
as it was...   


Cheryl Leigh said...

Great post, Mary. It's so true about everyone wandering around quietly, absorbing the amazing sights. I'd forgotten but your comment reminded me how everyone spoke in whispers. Guess we were all in awe at such a dreadful occurrence.

Maggi Andersen said...

Fascinating post, thanks Mary.

Allison Butler said...

Hi Maryde,

Thank you so much for this wonderful glimpse of such a fascinating city. I've never been to Pompeii but definitely want to visit and experience the 'feel' of it for myself.
It's amazing how all the colours survived been buried for so long. And I love how clever the Roman/Pompeians were when planning their town. Ingenious indeed!
Thanks for sharing your wonderful pictures, too:)

Anonymous said...

Cheryl, you are right. Whispers :)
It just made me want to sit on a stone wall and think, delve deep inside. It was like trying to capture the feel of how it was before and after such devastation.
Thanks Maggi.
Alison,if you ever have the opportunity, do go.
Our original Tour was to stay near Pompeii and have a whole day but it got cancelled and Pompeii was scratched.So we booked a separate tour when our Trafalgar one was over and we had 4 extra days in Rome. I am sooo glad we did.
I have heard that Ephesus (in Turkey) Is amazing too.

Christina Phillips said...

What a fascinating post, Mary. I remember learning about Pompeii when I was very young at school, but it wasn't until I was a lot older that the full devastation and horror really struck me. I would *love* to visit one day, it must be completely awe-inspiring. Fabulous photos!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Christina for stopping by.
Even seeing history live, still can't prepare you for it.
I tried to read up on it as much as I could before hand, and it still blew me away.

Alison Stuart said...

So jealous, Mary. Pompeii is on my "must see" list but I didn't even make it to the exhibition that was on in Melbourne a few years ago.
Thanks for the post.