Our ship the Emerald Princess pulled into to Naples harbor just before sunrise. I could make out the dark shape of Mt. Vesuvius in the distance and I knew we where close to Pompeii. Ever since I was a kid and saw a book in the school library on the story of Pompeii I knew someday I would go there.
Right after breakfast we departed the ship at 8 AM to catch our bus to Pompeii. After a fairly long ride which included great views of Mt. Vesuvius we arrived. I could feel the excitement well up in the pit of my stomach - this was going to be so good. Our guide told us to stay together and to try and keep up with the group as there was a lot of ground to cover over the next few hours.
We entered the doomed city and our first stop was at the theater-coliseum - we stood in the center of it as we were told of the kind of events that took place there, everything from plays to gladiator shows. Then we began walking into the town itself with all the excavated remains on display. Remains mainly of private dwellings, shops and plazas. We met some wild dogs that live there full time - they are fed by the employees. Our guide told us we would be visiting a couple of former houses of ill repute that were very popular back in the first century. We would also visit a bathhouse that contained some startling paintings that have survived the centuries.
Of course we all know what happened when Vesuvius blew its top back in 79AD. A cloud of hot poison gas blew over the city killing thousands. The city was covered in ash and remained that way till the 17th Century when it was rediscovered. The excavations began then and continue to this day. We vistited several houses of the upper class and heard about how the house was laid out and what life there was like. We contiued walking for several hours and saw much of the city. One thing that you notice is the size of the town. It was not a little town by any means but a large thriving Roman city. We saw lots of remains that have been uncovered including some bodies of citizens who died that day. Their bodies were preserved and plastered over.
There is concern that the place is falling apart and is not being cared for properly by the Italian government. This may be the case in some buildings that have collapsed, but over all it still looks pretty good. The fact that it is still an active archeological site gives it some needed attention. There is a great museum in Naples devoted to showing the best of the archeological finds from Pompei including some of the rarest art.
I am so glad we had the opportunity to go to Pompeii and hope to go back again some day and spend more time there. It would take several days to really see it all. There are also some other towns like Herculaneum nearby that had been buried in ash that are also being excavated.
Causes Ron Cabral Supports
National Wildlife Federation, California State and National Parks, Arf, Paralyzed Veterans, National Film Preservation Foundation, California Historical...