The Italian Diaries – Pompeii

Pompeii is filled with wonder, just as you would imagine. In 79 AD, Mt. Vesuvius erupted and destroyed everything in its path. The ruins of Pompeii are still standing today, and it’s really amazing to walk down the streets and think about what life was like 2000 years ago. I’ve been there 4 times, and I still haven’t even scratched the surface of all there is to see.

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A couple of important things to know about Pompeii before you visit. First, there is the actual town of Pompeii. Within this town, you have the gated ruins of Pompeii, which is a tourist attraction that you pay to get into. The actual town of Pompeii is NOT a good area. It’s very sketchy. One of the times I visited with my family, we got ripped off in the parking lot. We paid the “parking lot attendant” who showed us where to park, then all of a sudden he broke out into a sprint. Yea, he didn’t work there. We then had to pay the actual parking lot attendant. And this was with my Italian-speaking relatives.

But the ruins are well worth the trip.

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Keep in mind, when you are walking through the ruins, it is hot. Take what you imagine hot to be and multiply it be 5. It’s that hot. You are entirely out in the open without any shade or cover. The sun is just beating down on stone. All day. IT’S FREAKEN HOT, YO! Bring water, lots of it.

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Next – the bathrooms are scarce and there is only one place to eat inside the grounds. And that place is not that good. My recommendation? Eat right outside of the grounds. You’ll find vendors, similar to American food trucks, that make delicious paninis. They are also selling lots of little trinkets related to the ruins and volcanoes. And if you’re in the mood to negotiate, you can barter with the vendors and get souvenirs for much cheaper than inside.

OK – now to the actual ruins.

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It’s quite stunning to see Mt. Vesuvius looming in the background of the towering pillars that once made an alter to worship the gods.

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Tucked away in the ruins are houses with intricate carvings and details.

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Something that has always been fascinating to me are the casts of the bodies. The volcanic ash literally preserved bodies in their moments of death.

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Sounds morbid, I know, but quite fascinating to see.

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It’s also pretty amazing to see some of the marble statues that are still perfectly in tact since 79 AD.

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There is an amphitheater where shows were presented to the people of Pompeii.

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And even a colosseum where gladiators performed for the crowds.

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Sadly, the colosseum has become quite overgrown, but you can still imagine its magnitude.

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Pompeii is filled with so many mysteries. The ruins, the volcano, the story behind the people are all so fascinating that Pete and I gobble up any new information we can find about it. We’re constantly seeking out books and documentaries that tell us more.

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You’ll just have to visit and see for yourself. But remember, wear a hat and drink lots of water!

Next stop…Ravello!