Pompeii - Skipping About the Continent - CycleBlaze

April 26, 2022

Pompeii

Relatively fresh off my walking tour of Lecce, I decided to book a small-group walking tour of the Archeological Park at Pompeii. There is a direct train to the Archeological Park from the Napoli Garibaldi Station, part of Napoli Centrale, and for less than 3€ I was soon aboard and amidst a throng of tourists bound for this unique archaeological site.

Pompeii was a thriving merchant city in Augustus’ Roman Empire when it was destroyed in 79 AD, the result of the volcanic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. The eruption came in two waves. First, there was a rain of pumice that lasted about 18 hours and allowed most of the 20,000 inhabitants to escape. Those who did not escape, or who perhaps came back to retrieve loved ones or valuables, were caught is what is termed a pyroclastic flow – a fast-moving, dense cloud of hot ash (least 250 °C/480 °F) that incinerated any and all remaining life, including the 1,150 people whose bodies have been found to date.

After some initial looting, the city was forgotten and remained buried for centuries. Excavation of the 100+ acre site began in 1748 and continues today, resulting in an extraordinary and fairly detailed snapshot of life in an ancient Roman city.

Like most of you, I first learned of Pompeii during grade school, though I don’t remember much except an image of people buried in ash. The tour gave lots of information, much of it available on the web, but what I found most compelling was walking through the streets and houses of a city where people once lived, worked, and spent their leisure time. Much like today, walls were defaced with graffiti, sex was for sale, and the rich lived in big, fancy houses. It was an immersive experience that connected me viscerally with the past.

A final note before the photo drop: There were mobs people at the Park – most in large group tours, many of which were day excursions from a cruise boat docked at Naples or Salerno. Luckily, there were only four in our group (the guide, myself and a couple from Spokane, WA) so we were able to cut in line for access to some of the popular sites. We kept a fast-moving pace, and I was constantly catching up after lingering for another photo or two or three. This is the trade-off you make when you join any group tour, be it a walking tour or a bike tour – you sacrifice a bit (or more) of your independence for the reward of information and/or organization. I’m a pretty independent sort, and though I chaffed a bit at the pace, I found the whole experience very worthwhile.

Map of the Pompeii Archeological Park, which was divided into nine regions. Our tour focused on regions I, VII and VIII
Heart 0 Comment 0
The city wall were built on layers of lava and basalt from previous volcanic eruptions.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Square atrium adjacent to Roman Theater, it also the site of gladiator barracks
Heart 1 Comment 0
Heart 1 Comment 0
Roman Theater
Heart 0 Comment 0
Pompeii was pedestrian friendly, with sidewalks and large circular stones that served as crosswalks
Heart 1 Comment 0
A thermopolium, a sidewalk food stall
Heart 1 Comment 0
Bakery
Heart 1 Comment 0

The House of Meander was one of the most expansive villas in Pompeii, complete with it's own interior bath house and garden.

Interior bath in the House of Meander
Heart 1 Comment 0
Frescoed walls in the House of Meander
Heart 1 Comment 0
Frescoed walls in the House of Meander
Heart 0 Comment 0
The lararium, or shrine for the gods of the household, in the House of Meander
Heart 1 Comment 0
In large dining area of the House of Meander was actually built atop another structure
Heart 1 Comment 0
Decorative plastered ceilings in the House of Meander
Heart 0 Comment 0
The interior courtyard of the House of Meander
Heart 0 Comment 0

Pompeiians seemed to be a bit obsessed with sex, with images of penises appearing throughout the city. In many cases, they were directional signs to the Lupinare, the region of the city housing brothels, or the "address" of a prostitute. 

It casts a long shadow
Heart 1 Comment 0
Frescoes decorating the largest brothel depicted various positions or acts that patrons might request
Heart 0 Comment 0
One of the three Roman bath houses of Pompeii
Heart 0 Comment 0
Statue of a centaur in the Pompeii Forum
Heart 0 Comment 0
The Temple of Jupiter sits at one end of the Forum, with Mt Vesuvius in the background
Heart 4 Comment 0
Sanctuary of Apollo, showing the sacrificial altar
Heart 0 Comment 0
The partially intact sundial in the Sanctuary of Apollo
Heart 1 Comment 0
Apollo
Heart 1 Comment 0
Diana, sister of Apollo in the Sanctuary of Apollo
Heart 0 Comment 0
Archeologists excavating Pompeii were the first to develop the method of plaster casts. These are plaster casts of a family.
Heart 0 Comment 0
These casts are of the most recently discovered victims, found in 2021
Heart 1 Comment 0
The statue of Daedalus was part of a 30 piece exhibit by the Polish artist Igor Mitoraj in 2017, and was gifted to Pompeii at the exhibitions end
Heart 2 Comment 0
Heart 1 Comment 0

After the tour ended, I could have remained in the Park and explored more on my own, but I returned to Naples and toasted my successful tour Southern Italy with one last authentic Napoli pizza. It’s back to Paris tomorrow.  

Rate this entry's writing Heart 8
Comment on this entry Comment 3
Scott AndersonVery successful tour, I’d say - especially after the anxiety about your injury going in. Thanks for taking us long, see you in Burgundy!
Reply to this comment
3 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Scott AndersonVery successful indeed, Scott. Thanks for following along and for your suggestions and support early on in my ankle ordeal - this tour was the perfect start to what promises to be a great year. À Bourgogne.
Reply to this comment
3 months ago
Rachael AndersonIsn’t Pompeii amazing! We were there several years ago. It’s interesting they are still finding bodies.
Reply to this comment
3 months ago