Sunday, 20 May 2012

Pompeii: wear decent shoes!

After my jaunt to Lecce a few weeks ago, I thought it was time to do a bit more exploring. So, I decided to take a trip to Pompeii. Pompeii is really quite marvellous, and a place that I first heard about back in primary school when we did a project on the Romans. In all honesty, I'm not usually someone who enjoys traipsing around ruins or monuments. If you see one part of it, you've seen all of it. And although for me, Pompeii was a little bit like this, you can't deny how fascinating it is to see this unbelievable place.

 Before going to Pompeii, I decided to read a little about the place to try and understand a bit more about it. At least, more than simply thinking 'it was a place in Italy that was covered with ash a good few years ago'. Pompeii was once a wealthy settlement and trading town, which was 'preserved' due to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. This eruption literally froze Pompeii as it was. The remains of Pompeii were discovered in 1600, but the real excavations began in 1748, and from these findings, archaeologists have been able to shed a lot of light on how the Romans really lived. As well as seeing the remains of Pompeii, you can also see artifacts, and even plaster casts that have been made from the shapes of bodies that remained in the volcanic ash. 

 On the site, you can see lots of different structures, many of which you can walk into and around. There is also a spectacular amphitheatre. We spent a good few hours walking around the city, in and out of buildings and along the (very uneven!) streets and pathways. Fortunately it was a beautiful, sunny day, but this also meant that we became rather tired. If you decide to go on a warm day, make sure you take water and some suncream. I left Pompei with a rather red forehead and nose. Not attractive. There isn't much shade either. Good shoes are also important- for the amount of walking you do and to cope with the uneven surfaces. I lost count of the amount of times we almost fell over. And another thing: get a map. We made a fatal error of not picking one up as we went in, so ended up wandering around with very little idea of where we were heading. There are maps dotted around the site but having your own is a must. 

See what I mean about needing decent shoes?

Hmmm, what could this have been I wonder?

The amphitheatre

Wish the inside of my house looked like this....
The entrance fee was €11 per adult, but my friend, who's under 25, showed her (non-Italian) passport and got a decent discount. Guides are available too, but the one who spoke to us made it clear that we needed to be a group of at least 10. There are also audio guides. In terms of finding something to eat and drink, your best bet is right outside the site, where there's a smattering of stalls and restaurants. We stopped at a little restaurant which had a nice shady area outside and had some pizza. There are also souvenirs that you can buy, but watch out for the pushy sellers! We drove to Pompeii and were initially a bit concerned about where to park, but there are places quite near to the site, and we found a space easily, even during the middle of the day. The train station is nearby too, so it's easily reachable, and trains go to Naples central station every half an hour. 

I would say that May is a great time to go. It's hot but not too hot, and it wasn't completely rammed with tourists. Always a plus in my opinion! Like I said before, ruins aren't always my cup of tea, but Pompeii has to been seen, just to be believed. It really is one of the most informative places in the world in terms of discovering how the Romans really lived. And even though we didn't find it due to the distinct lack of map, I'm also led to believe that there is a rather 'interesting' Roman brothel museum too. So if ruins don't float your boat...

1 comment:

  1. The random hole, was it set into like a table or a bench? If so, I think it's a thing they had in a tavern to put a shallow amphora in to hold wine/ olives/ snackysnacks etc. Cause the jars didn't have flat bottoms.