The Ancient City of Pompeii & Visitor TipsThursday, January 05, 2017
Welcome to Pompeii, an ancient Roman town that was buried under volcanic ash and pumice after Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD and left everything preserved for over 1,500 years. This means that today we can see everything as it was left: the pillars, houses, frescoes, streets, pottery and even people. Pretty fascinating stuff! When we went down to Naples for a couple of days we just had to visit so we woke up bright and early and made our way by train down to the ancient site.
|Vesuvius, the volcano that destroyed (and preserved) Pompeii|
The richest homes in Pompeii had a constant supply of running water which is incredible considering that it was only really available to the modern world in the late 19th and 20th centuries. The water was carried through a complex plumbing system which used lead pipes - the word "plumbing" even comes from the Latin plumbum which means lead!
In ancient times, like today, plumbers were always needed and already had very successful businesses. The lead pipes also helped to improve the sanitary conditions of the city which I just find fascinating as water borne diseases like cholera and typhoid were still an issue for the UK in the 19th century! Their old and inadequate sewage system lead to the "Great Stink" in London in 1858 - maybe they should have looked back at ancient times for some advice.
They also had the concept of fast food which you can see in the last two pictures above. When they excavated the site they didn't find much tableware or formal dining areas, nor did they find many full kitchens in their homes which would suggest that cooking and having sit down family meals weren't very important.
In fast food places you could buy both food and alcohol and could either have it take away or sit down at the little tables they had. Apparently many poor people used these as they couldn't afford to have a private kitchen in their own homes but I doubt that these places were exclusively for them.
|The Temple of Apollo|
What I absolutely love about Pompeii is that it gives you a real look into Roman life, frozen in time, buried under the ash. A lot of the houses are still really well preserved and the graffiti found on the walls gave historians and classicists great insight into Vulgar Latin, the every day spoken version of the language. Not to mention how all of the objects in the city were preserved because of the lack of air and moisture - archaeologists could see the exact position that people were in when they died.
|How beautiful is this? Found in the House of the Small Fountain|
|House of P. Casca Longus|
|The House of Menander|
The Lupanar that we went into was the largest brothel in Pompeii with 10 rooms. Brothels were normally quite small with only a couple of rooms and, like the Lupanar, were not extravagantly furnished, although they did have a number of rather graphic scenes on the walls *if you're under 16 please look away now* !
Our last stop before our feet felt like they were about to fall off was the amphitheatre which is the oldest surviving Roman amphitheatre. Like the Colosseum in Rome, it was used for gladiator fights, animal slayings and executions. Other than being a historical landmark it's also been used for concerts - Pink Floyd made a concert film there in the seventies!
At the end of our long day of exploring we were exhausted and ready to go back to Naples to eat some more pizza so made our way back to the station, nutella sfogliatella in hand.
Pompeii Visitor TipsTourists have been going to Pompeii for over 250 years and has about 2.5 million tourists each year which isn't surprising considering that it's one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy, not to mention a UNESCO World Heritage Site so here are some of my tips...
1) If you can afford it, get a tour guide. There isn't any information about anything once you get onto the site and it can be a little bit difficult to navigate yourself around the different zones. Make sure to take the map that they give you at the entrance.
2) If you can't afford a tour guide (we couldn't), at least have a guide book with you or a phone with internet connection so that you can look up all of the different places otherwise you will miss out on so much.
3) If you can, go in winter or at least outside of the tourist season. We went at the beginning of December which meant that there were hardly any people there. As I said before, I've been to Pompeii twice before and both of those times were in summer, in the height of tourist season which I really would not recommend. It's hot and packed with people so if you do end up going in summer make sure to bring lots of water, hats and snacks as well as spf because you will more than likely burn up in the southern Italian heat.
4) Take your time, but equally don't take too long. Someone told us that seeing the whole of Pompeii would take two whole days - I think that this is nonsense. We saw probably 70% of it in 3-4 hours or so. You don't want to rush because it's an incredible experience with such rich history which needs to be absorbed, however at the same time if you want to see everything you really can't be spending more than 10-15 minutes in each place. We simply prioritised what we wanted to see and went from there.
5) If you're under 25 and an EU citizen bring your ID card with you, you'll get a reduced rate!
6) There aren't actually that many artefacts on the site itself, for those you will have to go to The National Archaeological Museum of Naples so please don't get your hopes up or expect the wrong thing before your trip to Pompeii - you will only see the buildings and some artefacts.
How to get to Pompeii:By train
It's actually really easy to get there by train from Naples, which is what we did. For the Porta Marina and Piazza Esedra entrance take the Circumvesuviana Naples-Sorrento train and get off at Pompei Villa dei Misteri. For the Piazza Anfiteatro entrance take the Circumvesuviana Naples-Poggiomarino train and get off at Pompei Santuario or take the FS to Naples-Salerno and get off at Pompei.
You can take: SITA from Naples and from Salerno, CSTP no. 4 from Salerno & CSTP no. 50 from Salerno which is faster and via the motorway.
To be honest I would take the train as it was really easy and inexpensive from Naples, less expensive than trains in the north thankfully.
Entrance to the site is only €11 or €5,50 if you're under 25 and an EU citizen. If you're an EU citizen under 18 you go for free!
|From the House of Venus|