Monday, January 16, 2012

Amazing Pompeii!

I finally go to Pompeii after 6 years in Italy.  I was surprised by all of the misconceptions I needed to correct about the place.  First of all, I thought it was a small place with a few buildings they had uncovered, but it was, in reality a city of 20K spread over 160+ acres of land. It was a popular vacationing spot for the rich, decadent Romans of the 1st century.  In November of 79 AD, 700 years after its founding, it was buried for 1700 years by 25 meters of ash from the huge eruption of neighboring Vesuvius.  It was probably rediscovered in the 1500's, but the archeologist was embarrassed by all the risqué frescoes, etc and supposedly re-buried his discovery, where it waited for a less prudish explorer in the 1700's.  
It is in major need of repairs which have been estimated at 1/3 of a billion dollars +/- and much of the site has been closed to the public.  (Wikipedia: Pompeii)  
That said, there is a lot to see and it needs a half day for an american tourist (who will be seeing 6 sites in 6 days and needs to rush).  I also thought it was a port town, but it is quite a ways inland in this day and age and also much closer to Napoli than I thought.  This was part of "The Grand Tour, which was the voyage all educated, well to do folks were expected to take back in the day.
If you are planning a trip to Italy, remember how long the country is and don't try to do everything in a one week visit.  a week will let you do Napoli, Pompeii, Caserta for the Reggia, Capri and the Amalfi coast and then do another trip to see other parts, so you don't get stressed out trying to do too much.  From Napoli, it is easy to take a train to the ruins and for the adventuresome spirit, you can take a train which takes you all around Vesuvius.
Matteo and Fabio near the Basilica

Matteo admiring one of the statues.  I found out from a local via fb, the statues on display are copies, with the originals many times to be seen in the Museum at Napoli.

One of the "casts" of a local caught under 25 meters of raining ash.

A pettirosso in the ruins; made me wonder if they were around 1950 years ago after seeing the mosaics below.

They rotate which buildings they open daily to decrease the impact of the tourists.  This is the gladiator house, which has undergone extensive reconstruction after a collapse years ago.

The paintings are very well preserved, amazing considering the passage of time

The Grand Theater, which sat 5,000 people at 40cm of space per person (the where they must have had great concerts and plays.

My 2 friends in questionable poses
A good view of the culprit, Vesuvius, which is well past due for another eruption

A view of a part of the forum

The amphitheater where Pink Floyd played in 1971 (Wikipedia: Pompeii)

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