On our recent trip to Italy, we flew from our home in the US to Rome via Lufthansa. We had spent a few days in Rome, along with some time in Sorrento and Capri. Along the journey between Rome and Sorrento lies the ancient city of Pompeii. In 79AD, Pompeii was ravaged by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. During the course of the eruption the city was buried under 20-30 feet of ash over 6 hours.
Today, its regarded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and for good reason. The ruins are simply magnificent and are a must see if you ever visit the area. Walking through the many streets and among the ruins really does put you back in time. Many times I caught myself imagining what it must have been for a native Pompeiian when they first saw a glimpse of the eruption. As you’ll see in the photos, Vesuvius is an intimidating presence when you look to the northwest.
The eruption was catastrophic to the region. In researching the eruption, scientists estimate that surges of heat from the eruption reached 250 degrees centigrade, 480 degrees fahrenheit. Below, I’ve included pictures of plaster cast of victims that were recreated from the voids found in the ash layers where there bodies laid before decomposing.
In my opinion, if you are ever in the area of Pompeii, make it a point to visit. From Rome, its a very easy bullet train ride to Napoli (Naples). It takes about 1.5 hours on the bullet train, and approximately 2.5 hours on a standard train. The bullet train is nice because it is non-stop and offers a first class and second class fare. From Napoli, its another short local train ride to Pompeii. Lufthansa also provides non-stop service to Napoli (Naples) from both Munich and Frankfurt. The flights are approximately 1.5 to 2 hours.
The entrance to the ruins is 100 yards/meters from the train station so it is very easy to reach. There is a modest admission fee to the ruins, but it is very much worth it. There are tours that you can join that are offered in various languages for an additional charge. But if you’re like me, you’ll want to walk around Pompeii your way and take your time and enjoy.
This is the view of Vesuvius when you first enter Pompeii. You immediately sense just how close the Volcano is and what little chance there was to survive.
An example of the ruins. They have been very well perserved. Its impossible to tell that these buildings were covered by 25 feet of volcanic ash:
What impressed me was the ability for columns to survive the eruption. Perhaps having less surface area exposed to the eruption helped them remain standing:
A beautiful remain of a temple:
From Pompeii’s Forum, again notice Vesuvius in the background……..
A statue of Apollo:
Views down various streets:
Here are the images of the remains of a few of the citizens of Pompeii. You’ll notice that a few of the victims appear to not have had enough time to react and were “frozen” while they were in the process of moving. Some you’ll notice appear to be bracing themselves or trying to shield themselves from the heat of the eruption. The bodies are also smaller than I expected. These bodies are made of plaster casts. During the excavations, they discovered voids in the ash layers that resembled human forms and injected them with plaster to recreated the last moments of some of the victims lives. This was simply amazing to look at.
Scenes from the Amphitheater which seems to have had survived the eruption fairly well:
Pompeii was definitely a highlight of the trip for me. To be able to walk down the same streets and enter the same buildings as residents of Pompeii had almost 2000 years ago really puts things in perspective as to where we are on the timeline of mankind.
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