Last week I shared the first part of my road trip diary and it was all about the Eternal City – Rome. The second part of our trip took place in the Southern Italy: Naples, Sorrento, Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. This post has all you need to know about visiting Pompeii.
On our first day in the Southern Italy, we headed to the ancient city of Pompeii. Pompeii was literally frozen in time in one day, on August 24, 79 AD, by the eruption of Vesuvius. The city was buried under 9 meters (30 feet) of hot volcanic ash, which preserved it for us to imagine what life in a Roman City might have been around 2,000 years ago. It’s amazing how well the ruins are conserved – you can walk down Roman streets and stroll right into two millennia-old houses, temples, shops, cafes, amphitheaters, and even a brothel.
I found three things most amusing at Pompeii. First, I was impressed by the well-preserved sites of fast-food joints all over the city (see the photo below). These predecessors of modern restaurants were loved by ancient Romans and were located on several corners and looked like open-air bars with jars full of hot and cold food and, of course, wine. Take-outs were for the poor who didn’t have enough room for a kitchen; wealthy Romans cooked and ate at home. Historians say that there were around 150 fast-food joints to serve an estimated 12,000 habitants in ancient Pompeii.
Second, I was entertained by the stepping stones on Pompeii’s streets. To keep the streets clean, the Pompeiians flooded the streets with water every day. The stones allowed the citizens to keep their feet dry and chariots could easily straddle the stones. A single stepping stone street means it was a one-way street, a pair indicates a two-way, and three and more stones signal a major city artery.
Third, I found really cool wall paintings with a “menu of services” at the Pompeii’s brothel. And those stone beds could have not been comfortable!
Pompeii is best reached by the Circumvesuviana train line – the train stops just a 3 minute walk from the entrance. The price of the ticket was 11 euros; on Sundays entrance is free. After a long debate we decided not to visit the summit of Vesuvius. After reading many reviews, we came to a conclusion that it was a major tourist trap. Buses take the hordes of tourists almost to the top, although you have to walk about 20-30 minutes up to the summit. Despite a decent view, gift shops await tourists at the most picturesque spots.