Only a few people know that but when I was younger, I wanted to be an archaeologist. I think because it was the perfect combo of architecture and history, and I also loved mythology, especially the Greek and Roman ones. I remember reading in this old encyclopedia about the history of Pompeii, the city that was buried under the ashes of the Vesuvius volcano, and it always fascinated me. I dreamed of exploring the remains of this lost city, frozen in time by something so powerful yet so unexpected.
So when I went to Rome, I could not miss the opportunity to finally visit this amazing city. It is not far away, you can get a train to Napoles and from them another quick one to Pompeii. From Rome to Naples, depending on how fast (and expensive) they are, it can take from 2:30 to 4 hours to get there. Perfectly fine to leave early in the morning and come back in the end of the afternoon.
If you`re thinking that Pompeii is just a bunch of ruins… Well, you`re wrong, my friend! Keep in mind that, since I had always been a “Pompeii freak”, by the time I got there, I already knew a lot about the city. Yet, nothing I read in the books had prepared me for what I found there…
The city is HUGE. Ok, yes, I took my time exploring it, entering the houses – some so well preserved, with the original mosaics and tiles, that you can almost expect to see someone there – and I took a lot of pictures, good ones, but still, it took the whole afternoon for me to see (almost) all of it.
I have been to historic sites before, most of them in Italy, but seeing A WHOLE CITY that is one big archaeological site is kind of overwhelming. I touched the walls, closed my eyes, tried to imagine how they lived. Pompeia was one of the biggest Italian cities before this catastrophe, with an estimated population of 11.000 people – we are talking about the year of 79 AD!
As incredible as it is, some parts of the city are so well preserved that you can get a clear image of how they lived, how did the interior of the houses look like, the colours, the finishes, the details…
Even just writing about this I get shivers, but because the city of Pompeii was lost for over 1.500 years, and the tragedy that struck was so fast and final, even the bodies of people – and some dogs! – were preserved under the layers of volcanic ashes. Some of them, like the ones in this photos I took, was frozen in time, posing still for eternity..
By the way, did you know that the people of the city didn`t die of burnings or because of the lava, they suffocated over the ashes? (Is this a heavy topic for conversation on a travel blog? I think it`s important to know, to understand…)
Historical facts aside, the city is beautiful. You can feel the energy of past generations on its walls, you can immerse yourself in their lives while in their courtyards, with water fountains perfectly preserved. You can almost see gladiators fighting in the arena, or hear the singing in the amphitheatre.
And as I prepared to leave this amazing city and get on the train back Rome (sound like home! hahaha), with the last rays of light over the Vesuvius and the most beautiful pink sky, I said goodbye to Pompeia and to it`s many lost souls, and I quietly thanked the universe for having a chance to live this.
My archaeologist side was as happy and amazed as it will ever be…
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