The last time I lived in Italy, four years ago now, there was only one major place in Italy that I didn’t get the time to see, and that was Pompeii. I promised myself that if I were ever in Italy again, I wouldn’t miss out on the chance to see it. So this past weekend I took a little trip to the Amalfi Coast, with the crowning jewel of the trip (for me) being an afternoon at the ancient archeological ruins. I paid in advance for the guided tour, which is 20 euro as opposed to the general admission fee of 11 euro; you can also do an audio tour, but I highly, highly recommend the guided tours. I had heard mixed reviews, but I found my guide very knowledgeable and interesting. It was great to see the ruins, which are massive, in the context of the guide’s knowledge of what each area was during the time and the history that represented. So first off, head here to look at a map of Pompeii:

The nude colored areas? Yeah, that’s all still buried. I’m pretty sure that according to my guide restoration has also temporarily stopped at Pompeii while they seek more funding, but I’m not positive. But generally speaking it’s a massive area even not including the uncovered areas. You can see how tall the walls area, and keep in mind that the ash was FEET above the walls before they were uncovered. So no small amount of ash. The volcano at the time was both taller and wider (considerably so) so scientists believe that even were the volcano to erupt again, it wouldn’t be nearly as serious as it was when Pompeii was buried.

Pompeii entry

You can see from the above picture just how massive the site of Pompeii is. This is the view from the entry and the city extends far past what is visible in the photograph.

Main Piazza Pompeii

 

Above you can see the main piazza of Pompeii– or really what’s left of it. The tall pillars would have had wood on top of them for the second floor.

Body cast Pompeii

Above you can see both ceramic jars from the city of Pompeii as well as a body.The body’s actually a cast; bodies of those who died in the city were buried in ash. The ash solidified around the bodies and then the flesh decayed. Scientists were able to pour plaster into the ash then to create human shapes. Below you can see where there were blocks put up to create pedestrian-only streets.

Pompeii pedestrian zone

 

Below you can see an example of the central heating system that the Pompeiians employed.

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The people of Pompeii were smart cookies, as they not only figured out central heat but also how to light a room any time of day.

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Pompeii restaurant

Above you can see our cute little old guide pointing out details at an ancient restaurant. The holes in the counter are where massive jugs would sit. You can’t see in the photo, but there are also bumps in the ground in front of the restaurant; they were for ancient sliding doors. Below you can see another snazzy invention: stepping stones for avoiding the streets in the rain.

Pompeii stepping stones

 

Below is something familiar: a pizza oven!

Pompeii bakery pizza oven

I thought the market was really interesting as well; the middle portion was used for cleaning fish. They know this because they have found ancient fish residue in the area!

Pompeii market

Pompeii was so fascinating and I’m so glad that I was finally able to visit. I definitely would return, or check out the neighboring sites, like Herculaneum, which were also affected by the volcanic ash. I have a strong interest in archeology, so this stuff is fascinating to me! Pompeii’s an easy day trip from Naples, and isn’t too far from Rome, though a bit further from Florence so I went with an organized tour. But if you’re traveling around Italy and have the time, in my opinion it’s a must see, even if it’s a little inconvenient to get to. This was the last major item on my must-see list in Italy. Crazy!! Is there anywhere that you think I shouldn’t miss? Right now it looks like I’ll be leaving Italy (where to, who knows) around the beginning of August, so definitely let me know if you have a recommendation!

Pompeii Mt.Vesuvius

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