Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Lost City of Pompeii

It's the mysterious lost city of Pompeii

It's a big one.  The "bucket list" kind of  experience.  

(For those readers not in the US, or not familiar with the movie, 
a "bucket list" is about the things that you, personally, 
absolutely must do before retiring from this life.)

Isn't this amazing?   This art, these colors, survived an historic, tragically huge, world event.  I was captivated.  This kind of art would be astounding if in my world today, let alone......

The remaining relics speak volumes about a city that disappeared from the earth, literally, overnight ~ especially when set against this background of walls and buildings that were once whole.

Excavations started to release Pompeii 
from it's petrified prison here in 1748.

I was awed by the city streets.  At one time, this was an impressive, bustling city, resplendent with vendors selling their wares in shops, and private homesteads, food stalls, and everything else essential to a thriving city.

I did not expect it to be so vast.

Another surprise ~ a huge outdoor amphitheatre.  Built in 70BC, it's the oldest known Roman amphitheatre in existence.  

Vast.  Impressive.  

I'm told that it could hold up to 20,000 
"bloodthirsty spectators" at one time.

Signs of daily life are everywhere.

The artwork is surprising (to me) and impressive.

These were obviously very wealthy families.  These remnants of their lives are all that's left to hint of who they were, and what their lives were like.  I'm told that much of our knowledge about the daily lives of the ancient Romans derives from the excavations of  Pompeii and the neighboring town of Herculaneum. 

One of my personal favorites ~ 
remnants of one of their (several) temples of worship.

This entrance to a residence looks so cool.  Then, when you realize it's a mosaic, meaning that it's composed of the teeniest tiny bits of tile, the composite of which makes a pictorial;  and then it survived being buried in volcanic molten lava and ash; and then it survived sitting buried like that, for who knows how many years; and then it survived excavation.....Wow.  What a thing to behold.

As are these remnants of a pretty amazing kitchen, for the day.  These would have been the "prep sinks" and counters.  
Lots of beautiful tile work, even by today's standards.

I expected ruins.  I did not expect an entire city.

An audio tour gives us the same information as a tour guide, but allows us the flexibility to tour at our own pace.  Always a good investment, especially at a UNESCO site like this one.

I was particularly awed by the artwork, by the vibrant colors ~
vibrant still, so many years later.

Now THIS is a kitchen I could work with!  
Let's have a dinner party!!!

Here's another example of the entrance to a (presumably) wealthy home.  The tile work on the floor is mosaic.  
The artwork on the wall is ~ well, it's spectacular, even centuries later.  
I can hardly believe the vibrancy of the colors.  I could live here.  
Well, maybe with some indoor plumbing and a little electricity.  
But, truly.  It's gorgeous.  

But then, the reality.  The end of the obviously beautiful and vibrant city, and many of it's wealthy and industrious citizens. 

In August of 79AD, the angry mountain of Vesuvius erupted in utter and unexpected fury, burying the town and it's inhabitants without discretion or mercy.  That would be Mother Nature.  She tends toward being indiscriminate.  

The unsuspecting population was, quite literally, frozen in their tracks, buried under 20 feet of blazing ash and scalding pumice.

While most of the excavated artifacts reside in the Museum of National Archeology in Naples, some are archived here, behind wire barriers ~ rows and rows of artifacts have been redeemed from the petrified ashes of this horrific event ~ including some grim reminders of those unsuspecting citizens.  It's a good lesson for us all ~ we never know how much time we have left, it can all change in heart-beat.  

These ovens stand waiting 
for the weekly communal baking of bread.

And yet another kitchen.   Me thinks these folks liked to cook ~ perhaps they loved dinner parties as much as I do ~ 

Delicate art

And intricate stonework

And even a a skylight!  
And someone was smart enough to build a basin underneath to catch all the rainwater.

It would seem that then, as now, 
some color on the walls makes a home more cozy.

This was one of my favorite entrance pieces.
You can see the family name displayed in the mosaic.
Sort of like our personalized entrance mats?

One of the few complete buildings is the bathhouse ~ 
which is both beautiful ~ 

And practical.  Men and women are separate, of course.

And on the way out, you can buy your fresh lemons and pummelo's (literally as big as this guy's head!) from this friendly (?) local vendor.  

Nothing much makes you appreciate the present 
more than a visit to the past.   
It's been another fantastic and amazing travel day.


  1. Great writing and such an interesting collection of photos! I did not know anything about this city really. Way more than I expected. Nice!

    1. That's just how I felt about it. Way more than I expected. It is truly still a city, not just a bunch of rubble.

  2. wonderful quality of pictures and structures, I did not know they had restored so much of the city. amazing.....Thank You for allowing us to travel with you! You are a great guide...Deon

    1. It's one of those things that, like the terra cotta soldiers in China, they are probably still excavating, although I don't know that for sure. There is certainly more to be unearthed there......But I was pretty thrilled with what they've uncovered so far. Turns out that hot lava ash is a pretty good preservative.....

  3. I really enjoyed this article and amazing photos. So much detail in this and I really learned a lot about this location. Great writing!

    1. Times like these I appreciate the audio guide, 'cause you can go at your own pace, instead of keeping pace with the tour guide. Getting the same information, but having the luxury of pausing to soak up what is most of the most interest to you. Stop to feel it, breathe it, soak it in.....that's the true joy of travel to me......


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