Day 156 of 400: Pompeii – Italy
Your alarm goes off, you jump in the shower, get dressed, grab breakfast and leave the house. Within a few hours, the day turns pitch dark and pumice rocks start falling from the sky. The air is so thick with ash, it is literally suffocating and the poisonous gases in the air are killing you and everyone around you.
When Mt Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D., they think it erupted close to 12PM on August 24th and started with a deafening sound which was the top blowing off the volcano. The explosion blew up 20 km high into the sky forming a huge cloud of matter…then the pumice rocks started falling and then the ash fell over 70 km. Within hours, the entire city of Pompeii was dead and buried.
To walk the streets of this old Roman city and look at the ruins is kind of eery but also fascinating. The streets are long and gridlocked. There is a huge amphitheater, tons of what were probably houses and stores, a bath house, pillars standing without the buildings to hold up etc. The streets seemed to go on forever…there must have been so many people…
Giff and I spent a couple of hours walking up and down the stone streets and could have spent many more. We walked through some of the old buildings, taking pictures and reading our booklet to help navigate us around. One of the areas we found most amazing was “the garden of the fugitives”. 13 plaster cast bodies including children were frozen in the positions they were in when they were taking their last breath. It’s amazing how archeologists are able to find where these bodies were, but since they decomposed…they pour plaster through a hole in the ground into the cavity where the body was, and then dig around the mold. The end result captures the body down to the facial expression.
Many Roman towns have been rebuilt at some point during history but since Pompeii was buried in ash, it was preserved and therefore the streets we were walking on and the building remains we were looking at was all exactly the way it was so long ago. They have also uncovered paintings on some of the walls as well as statues amongst other artifacts. The archeologists continue to dig to uncover more and more.
We climbed some of the steps to get a view of the town which was dominated by the volcano in the background…it was unreal to be able to walk through the streets of all those people who were suddenly killed by a volcano they thought to be just a mountain.
After our long hot walk through Pompeii, we were ready to go back to our hotel. We walked back outside of the ruins (old Pompeii) and into the new town of Pompeii which is active with people, tourists, shops, restaurants and hotels. The main large piazza with the cathedral are right outside the old area of Pompeii. Giff and I had tried one of the mom & pop type restaurants before we went into the Pompeii Ruins. The food was one of our least favorites in Italy but we ate at a table next to the owners and enjoyed watching them chat and eat their lunch…even offering us a juicy peach from their table.
We went back to our hotel, grabbing a take out pizza and salad on our way to the room. We ate and caught up on our Internet stuff before going to bed. Tomorrow we will be in Naples!