There are a number of must see places in Italy, and Pompei (The Italian spelling is with one “i”, and the English spelling is with two) is certainly one of them. We finally got around to taking the trip and went with our good friend Anna and her son Daniele. It was her idea to hire a private van and guide for the trip and it turned out to be an excellent suggestion. There were four of us sharing the van and splitting the cost for the private guide and tickets. Our total was two hundred ten euros. With a driver, you get taken right to the front gate, which during normal times saves you from having to take a long walk from wherever you find a place to park, and with a guide, you skip the long line and go in the special gate for the licensed guides. We have had great success many times using WITH LOCALS for our tours.
Tourism during this time of pandemic in Italy is far lower than normal. It is September 2020 and we are past the high season, but even then, there are typically many foreigners seeking off season deals. Not this year; Italy had a period from August to October when travel between regions was permitted. This is a shot of the entrance. No line at all. Just walk right in. The tourists today were mostly Italian with a few German speakers sprinkled about.
It is difficult to complain about having Pompei mostly to yourself. Vesuvius, the volcano that buried Pompei is seen in the distance.
Normally, we think of Pompeii as a Roman city, but as the city was slowly uncovered, they discovered that the city was primarily Greek in population. After the eruption, it lay undisturbed under the ash until 1599 when Italian architect Domenico Fontana stumbled across it while he was digging a water tunnel. Even then, it was not until 1748 when there were any serious excavations headed by Karl Weber, a Swiss engineer. Even though the excavation of Pompeii started well over 3 centuries ago, it still continues to this day. In fact, just recently they have uncovered a perfectly preserved chariot.
Pompei Body Casts
Everyone has heard of the bodies that were preserved during the falling ash during the eruption of Pompei. Best experienced with a guide.
A Stroll Through Pompei
Pompei had a population of around 11,000 people. To supply these people with the daily necessities of living, there was a complete market area. You will notice the circular stone steps placed at regular intervals. Curious at first, but brilliant when explained. All deliveries were made by wagons pulled by horses or mules. This of course made for a messy street. These are crosswalks; perfectly spaced for easy stepping with a standard width for wagon wheels.
Other villas contained beautiful gardens providing the inhabitants with both fruits and vegetables as well as a peaceful place to relax.
Being a major population center, Pompei had its own theatre. It is the oldest surviving Roman Amphitheatre and predates the more famous one in Rome by over a century. It is still in use today for performaces, one of the more well known being a Pink Floyd concert in 1971.
From the Wikipedia page on Pompei. “The famed preservation of Pompeii and its amphitheatre have given insights into the gladiatorial culture of Rome. Around 59 AD, a deadly brawl occurred between Pompeiians and residents of Nuceria during games in the amphitheatre, resulting in a 10-year ban on such events.” Sports hooligans. Some things never change.
Pompei was also a busy port, and and like any busy city with lots of people coming and going, there was an entertainment district. The key to any successful entertainment district is of course, good marketing. Here in the street is something no drunken sailor with a few coins left in his pocket can fail to recognize. It also serves as a handy direction pointer.