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Europe 2017


ITALY | Saturday, 1 July 2017 | Views [525] | Comments [1]

In all of our trips to Italy we somehow always missed Pompeii, so it was on our "must do" list of tours to take. And it certainly did not disappoint! I think what struck us most, was the sheer size.Of course they estimate that some 20,000 people lived there at the time of the eruption.
I have read books but it still didn't prepare me for the magnitude of the city and they are still uncovering more. In fact, they had to halt construction of a new tram stop because their excavations for the tramway uncovered another hither to unknown section of the buried city. To really "see" Pompeii, you'd have to spend at least one week and even then, you'd just skim the surface.
Fortunately, our guide was terrific and he really knew his way around the city. So, when we encountered a bottleneck of tourists (and there were many) he was able to find an alternate path to our destination. In fact, the 3 hours we had, gave us enough time to visit the highlights and really get a taste of what life was like for the people. Even though we were off the ship as early as possible, the crowds build very quickly as does the temperature. We learned quickly that we wanted to take the earliest tours! Great weather is a plus, but in this region it also comes with scorching heat! (I'm talking  serious FL like heat and humidity) Our table-mates from Australia (it is winter there now), Colorado, PA and northern CA were having a hard time adjusting to the heat.
We first visited the home of a wealthy patrician. They could tell it was an important family 1- because of the size of the dwelling. It was quite large, even by our standards, and airy. Homes of the wealthy had a specially constructed hole in the roof  which allowed collection of water in a large indoor pool located in the formal living room. Smaller rooms surrounded the living room and there was a covered terrace leading to a large private garden with a beautiful view. 2- parts of the wall paintings have been restored and you can clearly see the colors that were used. In the home of someone less wealthy, you would find common colors of red and yellow. These were readily available and therefore, less expensive. If a home had blue paint in it's wall decorations, it was a giveaway that they were wealthy. The blue color was made by grinding the precious stones of lapis-lazuly. The term "blue-blood" comes from this custom used by the wealthy. There were also two beautifully carved tables that had been found in the home.
Next, we visited a variety of different shops- a baker, a stone cutter, a furniture maker, chariot maker, and wine shop. The shops were similar in size to the ones used by commercial stores of today. They were constructed with large openings in the front for merchants to display their wares.
Walking the uneven cobbled stone streets was difficult and someone in our group remarked that a chariot ride must have been very uncomfortable. Our guide  explained that chariots were actually relatively comfortable and that they had a sophisticated built in suspension system. There were also just pedestrian streets with huge blocks of stone to prevent chariot drivers from entering. 
Apparently, chariots were different sizes depending on the city in which they were constructed. As a means of protection from invaders, streets of Pompeii had spaced stone blocks built in to major roads that would only allow their chariot wheels to pass through. Larger or smaller wheel bases would have been quickly derailed!
And then there were the two most popular areas of Pompeii .#1 is the "Red Light" District. Since there were many visitors as well as citizens to Pompeii and many couldn't read, the brothel owners found "clever" ways to make sure that men found what they were looking for. Over the entrance to the "pleasure palace", just above the door, was a "hard" to miss reference of  the relief to be found inside. And, since someone might not know what they wanted to order, the walls were decorated with very graphic drawings of the "services" available.
#2 are the actual  plaster casts made from the lava remains, of 4 residents killed by the gas fumes from the molten lava or the lava itself, when Pompeii erupted. (A chained dog trying to break loose, a little baby, an adolescent boy trying to cover his face, and a sleeping woman)

Quite an experience and very different from your average day of sightseeing.



My most favorite place. I have been there four times over many years. I never tire of visiting this magnificent city. Every time you visit there is more to see. The weather has always been sweltering. Wish I was there.

  Beverly Lo Tempio Jul 1, 2017 7:31 AM

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