Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Our guide set the stage for our visit by reminding us that Pompeii is not a city of ruins, but a city that was truly buried alive in 79 A.D. by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius nearly 2,000 years ago. The bodies that are found are not petrified, but victims of the volcanic gases and fire. The earthenware that is being discovered and uncovered is not in shards, but nearly whole. The 'ruins' that you might see at Pompeii are the result of man's carelessness for the preservation of this important archaeological site in the earlier days of its discovery. In more recent years, great care has been used in the excavation to protect and preserve the walls and artifacts found here.
We chose this excursion because our boys have studied Latin in school and their first year course was set in Pompeii. As we walked through the streets, they could picture the everyday life stuff going on about the city as our guide described a typical day for the citizens of the time. We saw merchant shops, bakeries, homes with several rooms, baths, the latrine, and even the ruts made in the streets by the carts and chariots. We saw the forum and the theater. There are frescoes and mosaics preserved as well.
We only had two hours to see some highlights of Pompeii which was enough for an overview, but for anyone with an interest, you should plan a whole day. They offer an audio guide which is supposed to be pretty good. There are not many informational signs, so if you don't have an audio guide, either the one you can get at the site or perhaps one available through Rick Steve's or other travel professionals, you won't know much about what you are looking at. One of our dining servers said she went with friends for the afternoon but didn't have an audio guide and wished they had.
If you go on your own, the entrance fee is 11€ and the site opens at 8:30 AM. We would recommend going in the morning to avoid the crowds and the heat of the sun. There was enough of a breeze and some shade to help manage the day, but it was still quite warm, and we were glad to have had sunscreen on to prevent sunburned necks.