It was a flourishing city, a catastrophe, a movie and a song. It is the background for the book Pompeii and now a famous UNESCO heritage site for tourists and archaeologists.
I was so drawn to the scary yet real historical event happened in Pompeii, where the entire city was covered in ash, both the place and the human being. When I first learnt this from a TV program, I was thrilled and overwhelmed by the power of nature and confused afterwards when I further learnt that Mount Vesuvius is still an active volcano and could be the start of another catastrophe anytime possible to the closest city, Naples.
Of course Pompeii now does not look exactly the same as it once was. Archaeologists try their best to recover as much original shape of the place as possible because you could hardly get any picture of the place after the eruption.
Going into the site you need to pay an entrance fee and there is a very high possibility that you may also want to pay for a guided tour as an outsider of the history and the archaeology. Once you pay, you’ll get a map for your convenience.
A map. How do they indicate the location?
They don’t. Whatever street name that you see on the map is modern name given by whoever has the authority to manage the site. Most importantly, it doesn’t really help with locating yourself. I suggest you better turn on your Google map or just explore. (They do have signs for landmarks though.)
Go back a bit to the tour. As far as I remember, the tour costs around 20 euro and a registered tour guide of whatever language you prefer (English, Italian, Mandarin, so on so forth) will be there explaining the interesting rumours, fascinating histories and helping you to picture the once vacation paradise for the rich back in 79 AD from the ruins.
I have to say the most impressive part of the whole visit to Pompeii besides the frozen victims is our tour guide. She speaks so strong Italian accent, literally how one imitates the Italian speaking English, that even native English speaker cannot understand. And we are talking about technical geology and archaeology terms here.
I overheard another group with a Italian tour guide speaking Mandarin, I’m sorry to say this, but I did understand more with that Mandarin speaking tour guide than ours. (But she is experienced and nice, undoubtedly.)
You may not hear or understand much about Pompeii (if you are not into Italy, or archaeology, or volcano, or catastrophe), but you should have seen the pictures or hear about the frozen victims. I reckon that I went all the way to the site to take a look at this heartbreaking ‘bodies’. In fact, you can only see them at one far end of the site, not EVERYWHERE.
I knew it would be overwhelming and shattering. But you can never feel hopelessness and sorrow stronger than being in this particular triangular museum.
For a whole five minute, I feel like all happiness in this world were gone as if dementors were real.
I just couldn’t lift up my camera and take a single shot.
Think about 2000 years ago when the eruption happened and all the people were too close to the volcano to run away. And they got frozen and remained in that exact same position over all the years. They are not some kind of sculptures or statues, they were REAL HUMAN BEING.
Sober as it may seem, Pompeii is not necessarily the noun for ‘I want to see the tragedy and destruction by the mother nature in
human history’. It’s actually a pretty comprehensive preserved site showcasing the ancient Roman life. Temples, theatre, ancient streets, houses for normal citizen and the rich (of course not in a complete shape), fountains, and most importantly (or interestingly), the prostitution area can be found in this archaeological site.
Penis is a souvenir idea at the stalls in Pompeii. That’s because there’s penis-shaped little carvings on the wall pointing to the prostitution areas. Apparently they were the sexual indication to guide those in need the way. They also had all the positions drawn on the wall inside the area so that customers could simply point out the favourable positions without complicated explanation.
I guess the ancient people were more direct and conspicuous.
It was a really educational and worthwhile tour except maybe 40% of the time I was just guessing what she was trying to say. My bunk mate and I took our time walking around the site after the tour to see the frozen victims, take pictures and just be there. A little tip from me, bring your water and some snacks if you are a fan of such ruins, and sport shoes, sunscreen, and hat of course.
I will leave you with the curiosity about the historical event for now. Remember to read other articles if you are interested in Italy or about my experience in different places! See you in next post very soon. xx
How to get to Pompeii…
Take the Circumvesuviana train from Naples or Sorrento and get off at Pompei Scavi.
Then the tour office is up the second floor of the station.
The ticket office at the site entrance does not provide changes, so you should prepare the exact amount for it.
Make sure you check the schedule of the train and beware of your belongings.
Sit back and enjoy the music along the way.