Thursday, April 5, 2012

A City Frozen In Time - Pompeii

Today was one of the highlights of us coming to this part of Italy, a trip to Pompeii.  We decided that rather than risk not finding it without a GPS that we would take the train out of Sorrento and I’m so glad that we did.  The train took us within 50 meters of the entrance to the ruins and it was an easy 35-40 minute ride from Sorrento.

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t heard of Pompeii so I’ll spare you tons of details on it other than the basics.  Pompeii was a city of 20,000 people that was buried by the eruption Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.  It wasn’t destroyed by lava obviously since that would have eradicated it, but the resulting mud and ash.  Thirty feet of mud and ash to be exact.  It was rediscovered accidentally in 1749 and has since been a key to much insight into daily life during these ancient times.

Since I didn't have the audio to do my research, I had to do some online.  According to Wikipedia "The town was founded around the 7th–6th century BC by the Osci or Oscans, a people of central Italy.  It had already been used as a safe port by Greek and Phoenician sailors.  After the Samnite Wars (4th century BC), Pompeii was forced to accept the status of socium of Rome, maintaining, however, linguistic and administrative autonomy. In the 4th century BC, it was fortified. Pompeii remained faithful to Rome during the Second Punic War." 

Both kids were excited about going to Pompeii… until we got there.  Actually Liam enjoyed pretty much the whole thing but Aidan got a bit crabby.  Not sure what he was expecting.  Josh and I got audio guides and I’m not sure how much he got to listen to but beyond the first button, I didn’t hear any more.  So any info I’m writing comes from research I’ve done since we went because I learned nothing while I was there which makes me a bit sad since this was one of the top items on my list of must see while we were here (we also wanted to see Herculaneum which is a sister city that is lesser known and therefore less touristy but we didn’t make it there). 

It wasn’t what I expected at all.  Though I’m not 100% sure what I expected.  I think that I thought there would be these windy roads and yet everything was laid out in a well organized grid.  It was certainly much bigger than I expected it to be.  A guided tour is at least 2 hours and while we didn’t do a guided tour we were easily there for 2 hours and we didn’t come close to seeing everything.  There were TONS of tourists.  I knew to expect that but I guess I didn’t expect to see so many in the off season.  They were climbing on everything (which of course meant my kids had to as well) which felt disrespectful to the ruins. 

But to see a city that was buried for 1700 years in such amazing condition, was incredible.  I’m most curious as to how they knew what certain buildings were since they were labeled on the map accordingly.  The kids were most impressed with the bodies they saw, frozen in time.  We only saw two on our journey, I’m sure there were more in other parts of Pompeii and I understand there is a museum in Naples that also has artifacts which I assume means more bodies.  This was a moment of utter fascination to Aidan and he was so curious about whether the bones were still in there too (to which I had no answer, would they have disintegrated over time???). 

Josh relaxing before we head into Pompeii

Liam talking on his itouch

Liam is very proud of his kids guide into Pompeii

As we enter the city

Mommy, Pompeii is talking to me!! (He seemed to think Pompeii was a person, not a city)

All smiles...for now

The only time they were allowed to climb was in this area where everyone else was climbing

Mt. Vesuvius in the background

Walking down one of the main streets, buildings on either side the entire way down

One of the Roman baths - bath on the right, a pool on the left and in the center would have been an athletic fitness area

This is where the pool would have been

Inside the bath (there were separate sides for men and women, not sure which side this is)

Dome above the bath

The bath

One of two bodies we saw

Aidan was in complete awe of the bodies

I believe the circles are supposed to be sinks...

Some frescoes that were recovered

Apparently they are still making wine here

Amphitheater / stadium

Going inside the stadium

On the hunt for a gecko that disappeared...

Mount Vesuvius in the background

To me, the Stadium was the most impressive – it was missing benches along the way but the majority of the outside was completely intact.  Everything just as it was 2000 years ago.  After visiting the stadium it was time to head out.  The kids’ moodiness because my moodiness which then reflected on Josh as well.  It was time to get the hell out of dodge and just chill out for a few hours.  In the end, it was a great experience and well worth the trip, though next time I’d like to go without the boys so I can at least listen to the audio!!



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