Since I was a child, it had been an ambition of mine to visit Pompeii, and a few months ago I finally made the trip.
It was as interesting and spectacular as I imagined – perhaps even more so – but the scale of it was far larger than I had thought it would be.
Unfortunately, we weren’t blessed with the best weather. Actually, that’s an understatement. It poured with rain the whole day, with only a little respite between showers. However, the weather meant that not many people had chosen that day to visit and luckily we had so many of the areas to ourselves. It was actually perfect. Our day ended with the both of us pretty much drenched outside of our raincoats, but thoroughly happy nonetheless!
Pompeii was an Italian city in Roman times that was almost destroyed by a volcanic eruption from Mount Vesuvius. Although much was damaged and I imagine every resident killed, the buildings themselves are still standing and the streets still walkable. There are statues intact, many examples of Roman artefacts untouched, and mosaics, paintings and carvings still visible.
A couple of statues on display here are more recent pieces of art. The centaur in the main plaza and the huge man facing over the new city of Pompeii are examples left from an exhibition of sculptures by Igor Mitoraj that fit perfectly here.
Speaking of which, the original examples of art here are just incredible, as you can see from the amount of detail visible in the murals and paintings throughout the city. A lot of the mosaics have been painstakingly restored, but some are as they were, partly damaged but insanely beautiful.
Funnily enough, I never imagined so much would still be standing, both architecturally and artefact wise. I had obviously studied Pompeii at school, read about it and seen the odd historical TV show exploring the site, but nothing can prepare you for the reality of what you’ll find.
I know that the volcano preserved the city, I know some parts have been restored and it’s all very well protected now, but the fact that so much remains is still so impressive.
It’s an insanely well preserved look at life in the Roman era. One of the most amazing details is that you can still see the chariot wheel tracks in the road where they would have run over and over again.
They even found food that the locals had been eating at the time of the eruption. In Pompeii there’s a representation of almost every part of their city life; from theatres, houses, and bakeries to bath houses and main squares. There’s even a brothel that has remained pretty much intact! You can see their communal water fountains and ovens, and even temples to the gods.
The saddest part is seeing the moulds that they took from the cavities in the lava flow where human bodies had been. Some hunched over, some lying face down on the ground, and there are even children amongst them. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to have been trapped there, unable to leave.
Be prepared for parts of the city to be closed for restoration. When my brother went in the summer, the whole colosseum was closed, which was such a disappointment for him. Luckily for me it was open again, but plenty of other sections were closed to the public, so just keep that in mind when you go.
Regardless of the closures, there’s still not enough time in the day to see everything there! The site is vast, and even though we were there for over 6 hours, there were sections of the city that we had to sacrifice to see others. Definitely prioritise what you want to see.
It was an amazing place to be in and I wanted to see every last detail, but the site is too vast to see in one go. I’ll definitely have to return to see the parts I missed. I’d love to visit the villas that are a short walk from the main city and also to visit the artefacts on display in the museum in Naples. I must have taken hundreds of photos of what I did manage to see in my time there, but sadly I couldn’t include them all here!
Even in the rain, the city was fascinating and beautiful and, come rain or shine, I can’t wait to go back again.
If you want to know more about the historic facts, history of the excavation and details of specific locations inside, then I would recommend starting with the main website here. You can also buy tickets and plan your visit here too.
The Man in Seat 61 is a great website to look at if you want to travel by train from another Italian city to Pompeii.