Perhaps one of the most interesting places in the world for me is Pompeii.
Places as special as this come at a cost in today’s world and the full entrance fee is 13 euros for adults and 7.50 for children/concessions. It’s opening hours change throughout the year from November 1st– March 31st it is 8:30am-5pm, and during Summer April 1st– October 31st longer opening hours of 8:30am-7:30pm.
To sound like Joanna Lumley, ‘this place is truly fascinating’. Pompeii holds relics and paintings that show how its environment was before the famous eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Beforehand, it looked a fertile land, with olive groves and vineyards. An example wall painting that can be seen is of Bacchus, the God of Wine (my kinda God). Bacchus gives us a good insight into the Pompeiian way. I remember he’s covered in Pompeian grapes and with a snake along his foot which is a symbol of plenty. BIG SNAKE AV YA?!
This unfortunately is very different from what we see now. Pompeii is almost desert-like. There are many paintings that depict that fatal day in 79AD when the city became an image of gas, mud and ashes. It was covered in this desertness like stage until in 1599, 1500 years after the eruption, when people began uncovering it. In 1748, Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre rediscovered it and it has since then been the work of Archaeologists to uncover all that remains of this historic town.
So what can we see now? Well this is a regular tourist destination for 2.5 million people every year. We’ve come a long way since its rediscovery and now the majority of the town is visible to the public. Before I get carried away with the architecture and art in this place I will say this is a well organised tourist spot. Many sights are monitored, but mainly you can go explore as you wish, go in and out of houses, many of which you’re free to move about and touch the walls.
TIP: It gets very hot here, so please take lots of water if you visit. I don’t really remember finding a cafe to sit in although according to the website there are a few.
A map of Pompeii is pretty useful as the place is extreme. You’ll probably find you learn some Italian without trying and can translate that Antiteatro is Amphitheatre. Anything with Casa is a house, which you’ll find are some of the most interesting and telling places on the whole siting. Most of these houses are split into the Vestiblumum (space in front of the house), Atrium (kind of like a corridor), Tablinum (a reception room), Peristilium (courtyard), Cubicula (bedrooms), Triclinium (Dining room) and finally the Triclinian (Living room). From this obscene amount of jargon you can take away from this that the people living here were very civilised. They had developed these houses. Think Ugly House to Lovely House, but a long time ago. What’s more interesting is that as we decorate our houses with wallpaper and paint, they were also doing their own interior design. There were 4 types of wall painting styles:
- Incrustation: Walls divided into coloured rectangles on top of the stucco layer… this looks a lot like marble inlay and would imitate wealth
- Architecture in perspective: Plinths, columns and cornices were painted onto the walls. This in essence symbolises structure and expansion. I suppose it’s like the modern day use of a mirror, it could make a room look bigger than it is.
- The real wall: The above without perspective. This reminds me a lot of the Egyptian walls I commented on in my other posting.
- Architectural illusionism: Highly defined architectural elements in bright colours- the most popular style of wall painting at Pompeii.
Pompeii is one of the few places where the art truly comes alive as some represent portraits of the owners of these houses. The most famous is a work that depicts the household with a book and pen. This perhaps gives us more information than initially we might accept on these people. They wanted to be respected and intelligent. When I saw this work it suddenly made everything so real to me.
Of course this makes it more difficult and upsetting when you wander around this mystic place. You can explore the bakeries, places of worship, wander the cobbled streets and almost hear the carts trekking along the path alongside you. It all feels very real. This reaches a whole new level when you see the remains of the people who lived here. Not only do you encounter their household items which are stacked high, but also their bodily remains which are preserved under the mud plaster that covered them. If you’re uncomfortable with this part of the attraction, you can avoid it and continue exploring the other remains of Pompeii such as the very cheeky Brothel but I highly recommend you visit all.
The Roman word for Brothel was Lupanar which actually translates to wolf’s den. This den was a place that Pompeii’s saucy secrets were hidden and have now been uncovered. There are wall paintings of encounters within this place (to put it prudently) and several graffiti marks rating the services here. It’s a very interesting building to explore indeed! If you don’t fancy the Brothel you can visit the Baths and read up on early treatments for ailments. These are beautiful rounded buildings that can be enjoyed by any members of the public any age.
I full heartedly recommend any of you go to Pompeii if you visit this part of Italy. I’m yet to see Herculaneum, so if any of you have any thoughts on there please share.