Pompeii was an ancient Roman city near the Bay of Naples. In 79 A.D. Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried the city in ash. Explorers rediscovered the site in 1748 and found that Pompeii was still mostly intact under that thick layer of dust and debris. Even after 2000 years, most of the buildings (and skeletons) were still intact and archeologists even discovered preserves and loaves of bread.
During its heyday Pompeii was a luxurious resort area for wealthy Romans. Our guide told us that sex and “immorality” ran rampant throughout the city and some even compare it to Sodom and Gomorrah. I never knew this about Pompeii so I was pretty surprised to hear the stories and to see all of the penis shaped souvenirs available. This is probably where I should mention that if you are offended by the shape of a penis carved into a wall or faded sexual mosaics, you should probably not read the rest of the post. I don’t think it’s that graphic, but I don’t want anyone to claim they weren’t warned first.
Anyway, we only had a few hours to tour the ruins so we didn’t get to see everything, but we did see the large outdoor theatre and one of the city’s public baths.
Our guide also pointed out the raised stepping stones in the streets. They allowed people to cross the street without stepping in water or waste. They were also spaced out so carts and wagons could still pass through.
And as I alluded to earlier, we saw the brothel. Penises carved into the walls and streets lead the way to the brothel, which features stone beds and erotic wall art.
This picture is one of my favorites from the trip – that’s Mount Vesuvius in the background!
Mount Vesuvius, located 5 miles from Pompeii. It’s the only active volcano on mainland Europe and is considered one of the most dangerous in the world due to the large population in nearby Naples and surrounding areas.
One of the last areas we checked out featured a large collection of pottery and artifacts that were uncovered during the excavation.
Also on display was a plaster cast made from one of the bodies discovered during excavation. Hardened ash from the eruption preserved the victims’ final postures at the moment of death. Archaeologists were able pour plaster into hollow pockets to preserve the body shape. After the plaster hardened for a few days, they chipped off the outer layers of ash and were left with cast like the one pictured below.
It was a sobering reminder of the suffering and devastation caused by the eruption. A once thriving city was completely destroyed in only a couple days. On that note, it seems kind of insensitive to say that we really enjoyed our visit to Pompeii…but we did. I would highly recommend visiting if you are ever near Naples (or I think you can also take a day trip from Rome).
And with that, our Italian adventure is complete. We had the most amazing time exploring Italy and had such a wonderful experience with our tour group. You can read more about our decision to use a tour company and our overall experience here, but I just have to reiterate that I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to share these adventures with my mom. She truly is my best friend and travel buddy. Last month we went to San Francisco for a week together and we’re already discussing our next trip! Maybe Africa?