“History is not the accumulation of events of every kind which happened in the past. It is the science of human societies.” – Fustel de Coulanges
Today it is raining. I’m so glad we did Capri yesterday instead of the original plan of doing it today. Trudging through the ruins of Pompeii in the rain is better than an overcast, wet boat ride.
Exiting the local Circumvesuviana train, we make the short stroll to the entrance of this ruined city. Poor Pompeii was a thriving Roman town in its hay-day, until it was destroyed and buried when the volcano, Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D.
I bought a book to help me distinguish the remains and upon going to buy a ticket, I learn it is Cultural Week in Italy. This means all the museums and sites are free! Yay! Especially since we are going to Rome tomorrow!
Walking through the front entrance of the city, I am surprised to notice how large it is! The second surprise is how many school groups there are! I suppose…since it’s cultural week. The full city has been preserved and we are allowed to wander freely through the entire thing, which we do. Upon entering, you are first presented with temples to the gods and the forum.
There are a few casts of the volcano’s victims. Archaeologists preserved these morbidly fascinating forms, by casting the molds found in the hardened lava.The people and animals are in the exact forms they were in during their seemingly rapid death. You can see some protecting their face etc. It is sad, but a good reminder of the devastation of this city.We wandered for hours, maneuvering in the large stone streets, entering houses, and appreciating some of the remaining frescoes on the walls of the grander homes.
I try to imagine this town alive and it’s not so difficult while you are looking at their homes and their community. As we walk down the main ‘commercial’ streets we see the baths, the food shops, and laundry facilities. Further along, we reach the Amphitheatre, which is still intact! I’m in awe and constantly aware that I am walking through ancient streets; nearly 2000 years old!
I am disappointed to learn that all the recovered statues and paintings from Pompeii have been taken to Naples and now reside in the archaeological museum there; Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli. We don’t have time to go there, so I shall see it next time. I will hopefully see Pompeii’s sister city, Herculaneum, which was also ruined by Mount Vesuvius…still an active volcano today by the way!
Wet and tired from wandering, we jump back on the train to head the 30 minutes back to Sorrento. Rather than go out, we lounge at the hostel with new Aussie friends, Kate & Anthony for a few hours and head to the room to pack. Tomorrow we head to my much-anticipated, but unfortunately final city in Europe for us… Rome!