Pompeii, Italy, is one of the world’s most complete and extensively excavated archaeological sites. Here visitors can experience an authentic slice of the Roman Empire, because, on August 23, 79 A.D., the world ended for Pompeii’s 15,000 or so inhabitants. Nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried the city under tons of volcanic dust and debris. People were caught unawares, involved in their daily lives, and this is what is so special about Pompeii. It is a window to a lost world, a glimpse of a typical day in the life of a Roman citizen. As one walks through the streets of the city, it is not difficult to imagine people seated in the beer halls, cooking in their kitchens, etc.
Some of the major attractions in the city include the Forum, the business and commercial center, with its nearby government buildings, including the Basilica, and its religious center, the Templo di Giove (Temple of Jupiter). Some of the houses contain well-preserved murals and frescoes which indicate, in some cases, the affluence of the area. The Anfiteatri (Amphitheaters) indicate a strong commitment to the Arts, while the Baths and Brothels (Lupenare) indicate an underlying hedonism. There are even examples of graffiti which have been preserved beneath the ash.
The major street of the city Via dell’Abundanza provides access to all the various areas.
1. Rent an audio guide for extensive background information about life in Pompeii as well as an explanation of the various excavated sights.
2. For a truly moving, almost ghoulish, experience, walk to the Orto dei Fugiaschi (Garden of the Fugitives), where there are a number of casts displayed of people who were overcome by the eruption. Their expressions and body positions will haunt the visitor. These people, like the city, are frozen in time and provide a ghostly window showing the modern world the consequences of a lack of preparedness.