The historic city of Pompeii is one I had always been interested in visiting so when we were in Naples, a short drive away, I knew I needed to make a day trip out. For those of you who are not familiar with Pompeii, it was an ancient Roman city that sat at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79AD, it covered Pompeii and surrounding cities with ash, essentially freezing them in time. It preserved paintings on the walls, artifacts in rooms, and froze people exactly where they were. This tragic event has allowed us to now walk through the historic town and see it as it once was. Historic Pompeii is an Unesco World Heritage Site that gets approximately 2.5 million visitors each year.
We entered next to the Amphitheater of Pompeii that once held 20,000 Romans who came to view the gladiator fights. There are several entrances to chose from, we tried this one because I’d heard from several people that it was the least crowded and I’m so glad that we did! We purchased tickets online ahead of time and were able to walk right in rather than stand in the long lines at the main entrance.
We wandered through the silent streets that had an odd calm about them. It was amazing to see how the vegetation has resumed throughout the area.
New vineyards have been planted within the city walls to show the importance and popularity of wine in Pompeii. The rich soil of Vesuvius and the climate of the region provided the ideal conditions for the growing of grapes. Many of the types of vine cultivated were not found anywhere else on the Italian peninsula.
The walk through Pompeii seemed endless. It was very easy to get lost. We could have easily spent all day there just peeking around corners at buildings.
Modern day Pompeii buildings overlook the ancient streets and Mount Vesuvius continues to loom above it all. We learned that Vesuvius ultimately released a hundred thousand times the thermal energy released by the Hiroshima bombing. It’s currently dormant but I couldn’t help but be a little bit nervous!
Paintings on the walls gave us a glimpse of what the room originally looked like.
Scaffolding has been put into place to keep walls in place as restoration has begun.
The incredibly fertile soil in Pompeii made it a wealthy community. Unfortunately over the years, grave robbers dug into Pompeii and took many of the precious belongings there. Luckily for us, some still exist on display.
Large stepping stones worked as crosswalks when the streets filled with rain and mud during the winter.
The hardest part of visiting Pompeii was the bodies….people who were literally frozen in time at the eruption.
Modern day Pompeii was a somewhat rough community. We paid to park in a parking lot with a guard, high fences, and barbed wire. I can’t recommend that enough. Pompeii felt safe walking around before going into the historic park, but it has a high crime rate and I’d rather be safe than sorry!
Check out our video of walking around Pompeii:
If you’re interested in more of Italy, make sure to visit Mount Etna and Taormina!