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Visiting Pompeii

Pompeii is one city in Italy we dream about seeing not because of its historic past of famous people or discoveries made there but just the fact that is was covered by a volcanic eruption and preserved so well.

When first seeing Pompeii it doesn't look much different than many other ancient ruins except for so many of the paintings inside the living areas are so well preserved. A giveaway that you are looking at a Roman ruin and not a Greek ruin is the fact the buildings are made of either brick and mortar or stone and mortar where Greek ruins are made of carved stone alone.

One interesting things about Pompeii is that the streets are lower than the sidewalks like now but with large raised stepping stone of about two foot square in the middle of the street so people didn't have to step in the street. The reason for this was the streets were used more or less as a giant trash can with everything from leftover food to human waste being thrown in the streets and was washed away only when it rained. I would imagine the smell would have been very unpleasant but I guess if it were there all the time you would get used to it.

Another interesting part of the streets and one which I didn't see until I heard a tour guide telling his group is there are phallic symbols carved in the stone walks and many corners of the buildings pointing and I do mean pointing the way to the brothels from just about any part of the city. People with children might not want to point this out to them but it is funny to see how prevalent they were throughout the city and that many of the brothels are the best preserved buildings in Pompeii makes it more interesting. In fact after hearing the tour guide pointing this out and since he was heading to the brothel district I decided to follow to hear more and  he also told his group that the paintings in the brothels pointing out what services could be rendered were some of the best preserved paintings in Pompeii.

Pompeii was also a much bigger city then I had thought in terms of size considering there were about 50,000 people living there, but after seeing the city and learning the shop owners lived in different parts of the city then were their shops were made a little more sense as to the size. Doing some research on my own I also learned the city was considered a port city with a canal coming up to the front gates meaning there would be a big need for many hotel and restaurant type buildings there. Even with my research I still couldn't imagine 50,000 people building such a big city.

Like many Roman cities Pompeii also had many large buildings used as exhibition halls, temples and a typical Roman bath located in a central part of the city as well as a few grassy areas for people to relax. Looking at Pompeii it was clear the city was well planned with specific parts of the city to be used for specific reasons. It makes one wonder had Pompeii not been consumed by the eruption of a volcano could it have become a great city like Rome or it's close neighbor Naples. If planning a vacation to Italy I would highly recommend visiting Pompeii even if it is by a tour bus from Rome.

Statute in Pompeii Forum in Pompeii picture of Pompeii