On one of my days in beautiful Roma, I decided to take a long awaited trip to the historic city of Pompeii. Luckily there was a bus trip to the city from the campsite I was staying at.
For many years I have looked at the history of Pompeii and learnt many things. I have since then longed to see the site of Vesuvius’ rampage. My pictures unfortunately do not do it justice at all. When we arrived we had to get tickets from the ticket office and once we were all kitted out with headphones and had met our tour guide, we were led down a long path. Pompeii was situated up on a hill, well more like a mound, so as we walked around the mound following the dust trail, we were gradually ascending onto Pompeii. The first stop that was on our little tour was an amphitheatre. Imagining the stories that the many people who lived there would sit, watch, listen and learn and now it was just all dust and brick. It’s extraordinary, it really made me think about what it must have been like. Even though it has been uncovered after thousands of years it still had the most amazing acoustics, a whisper at the bottom could be heard all the way at the back.
A short walk up another dust trail led us to the longest road in the city, this was where most of the traffic would happen, large boulders manipulated into squares were laid in the street acting as stepping stones due to the amount of liquid that would run through the streets, pretty genius way to keep your feet dry I’d say, especially since all they would have worn are sandals.
We were able to see inside a few of the houses that were on the street. It was difficult to think that many people had lived in these houses. It made me think whether they would have had similar conversations or whether they had delinquent teenagers, having tantrums. Of course they did. It was just difficult to imagine the normal day to day lives they led not knowing that an impending doom was overshadowing their little city in the form of Vesuvius.
It did shock me to see that at the base of the volcano, little houses at the base of the mountain. I could not help but think that these people are completely out of their minds, to happily and willingly live right underneath an active volcano, especially when the tour guide told us the amount of time they can give people to evacuate the area, and then the ratio of how many people they can evacuate before eruption. Let me tell you, it’s not a lot of time, and probably half of the people would escape. I would not like those odds at all.
It all became very real when we got to the main square, a vast space that would have been used, no doubt for markets and such. To the one side of the square were cages, obviously to keep people from touching and damaging the objects within. Inside these cages on platforms and shelves were artifacts, pots, vases, things that you would find in any normal household of that time, but there were also shells of people. People that had been under a layer of burning fragments and ash… or Lapilli for a thousand years. Looking back on photos that I had taken, I remember what it felt like to see them. The people of Pompeii. Still in the contorted positions that they were in when they were caught in the firestorm that devastated their city, their home. They are the most publicised pieces of the town, they have indeed given us a lot of information about the aftermath that the volcanic debris can cause, but as incredible as it was to see, it felt invasive. These people did not get the right burial that they so truly deserved, and now hundreds of people daily come to stand and gawk at them.
Nonetheless, Pompeii was a true experience that I am so glad that I made the decision to go to (there was no decision, I was dying to go… so I went.) It is something that I will never forget and I would absolutely love to go back in the future.