Pompeii, Where Ancient Rome Still Lives
The strangest sight I saw in all my wanderings has been Pompeii. Here, the traveler may feel himself transported bodily into the realms of antiquity; and he whose mind is trained… may discover in a flash more solid truth than the most ingenious of scholars. There is indescribable pleasure to be had from meeting face to face with this self-same antiquity, concerning which one has read such countless volumes”. Stendhal, “Rome, Naples and Florence”
It is a nice day trip from the Amalfi Coast to Pompeii, the famous Roman town, buried under 20-plus feet of ash from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.
On August 24, 79 A.D. , the volcano literally blew its top, spewing tons of molten ash, pumice and sulfuric gas miles into the atmosphere. A "firestorm" of poisonous vapors and molten debris engulfed the surrounding area suffocating the inhabitants of the neighboring Roman resort cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae. The cities remained buried and undiscovered for almost 1700 years until excavation began in 1748.
Watch the video of the last great eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 1944
Here is how Roman writer and senator Pliny the Younger described experiencing the eruption in two letters to contemporary historian Cornelius Tacitus:
" It was not clear at that distance from which mountain the cloud was rising (it was afterwards known to be Vesuvius); its general appearance can best be expressed as being like an umbrella pine, for it rose to a great height on a sort of trunk and then split off into branches, I imagine because it was thrust upwards by the first blast and then left unsupported as the pressure subsided, or else it was borne down by its own weight so that it spread out and gradually dispersed. In places it looked white, elsewhere blotched and dirty, according to the amount of soil and ashes it carried with it.
Ashes were already falling, not as yet very thickly. I looked round: a dense black cloud was coming up behind us, spreading over the earth like a flood. 'Let us leave the road while we can still see,' I said, 'or we shall be knocked down and trampled underfoot in the dark by the crowd behind.' We had scarcely sat down to rest when darkness fell, not the dark of a moonless or cloudy night, but as if the lamp had been put out in a closed room. You could hear the shrieks of women, the wailing of infants, and the shouting of men; some were calling their parents, others their children or their wives, trying to recognize them by their voices. People bewailed their own fate or that of their relatives, and there were some who prayed for death in their terror of dying. Many besought the aid of the gods, but still more imagined there were no gods left, and that the universe was plunged into eternal darkness for evermore.”
Amalfi Coasting selected excerpts from “POMPEII: ITS LIFE AND ART”, by German archeologist August Mau, one of the best books ever written about Pompeii in terms of historical narrative and archeological explanation. You can find Part 1 HERE
Watch Pompeii: Rebirth of a City - History Documentary
Pompeii Archeological Area
Infopoint: tel. 0818575347 Access points Porta Marina - Piazza Esedra - Piazza Anfiteatro Opening hours 1st April – 31st October: daily from 8.30 am to 7.30 pm (admission closes at 6 pm) 1st November – 31st March: daily from 8.30 am to 5 pm (admission closes at 3.30 pm)Tickets Single for Pompeii (valid for 1 day) Full price € 11,00 Reduced price € 5,50 (*)5 sites (Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis, Stabiae, Boscoreale) – valid for 3 consecutive days Full price: € 20,00 Reduced price: € 10,00 (*)Free ticket: European Union citizens under 18 or over 65
You can buy tickets online HERE
How to get there By train: For the entrance to Porta Marina and Piazza Esedra: Circumvesuviana Naples-Sorrento (Pompei Villa dei Misteri Stop) For the entrance to Piazza Anfiteatro: Circumvesuviana Naples-Poggiomarino (Pompei Santuario Stop) FS (Italian railways) Naples - Salerno (Pompei Stop)By bus: SITA from Naples and from Salerno CSTP no. 4 from Salerno CSTP no. 50 from Salerno By car: A3 Naples-Salerno Motorway - ExitPompei Ovest Exit