Ok, so I knew the story; an ancient city, buried under meters of ash for thousands of years, after a volcanic eruption but how much did I actually know about Pompeii? Turns out not that much! History lesson anyone?
Vesuvius towers over the city from every approach, like a constant, chilling reminder of the devastation she caused centuries ago. We’d wanted to drive up and climb the peak actually, as it’s one of the few Volcanos in the world where hikers are able to peer into the crater, but we spent the full day at the ruins and ran out of damn time, always the way, right?!
We chose to buy a guide book but after overhearing some of the facts and jokes coming from a passing tour guide, naturally, we adopted stealth mode and tagged along for a while. Well, until it became awkwardly obvious that we were following them. The guides tell you a bucket load of info and trivia that the books don’t include, so I’d absolutely recommend taking the tour.
Two things about Pompeii surprised me; how vast the city was and how intact the ruins are. Archaeologists have so far uncovered 2/3 of the city and it’s so much bigger than I’d anticipated. Fun fact time; it’s actually the world’s largest excavation and archaeological site.
We spent a full day there and still didn’t see everything. The map points out the main places to see; House of the Faun, the largest/grandest residence of the city; Villa of Mysteries, one of the least damaged residences and a perfect example of the beautiful murals that were used to decorate homes; and the many, many, many brothels throughout the city. Pompeians were sex mad and there were 35 brothels in the city. The main one, the lupanar, housed several rooms which only contained a stone slab for a bed and above each door, an illustration depicting the special, (ahem..) talent of its female inhabitant. Penis’ carved into the city walls, pointed the way for new visitors…discreet ey?
We ended our day in the colosseum (right before a storm and torrential rain), which houses the majority of the uncovered bodies in an indoor exhibition. Recovered and preserved within plaster casts, it’s overwhelmingly sad and really puts the entire site and tragic event into perspective.