Almost two thousand years ago Pompeii, a bustling port of 20,000, fell silent to the power of Mount Vesuvius. Having been badly damaged in an earthquake 17 years prior, 30 feet of hot volcanic ash would silence the then unfortunate souls of Pompeii once and for all.
Today 2.5 million visitors rain down on Pompeii annually. As two of the curious onlookers at the grim scene we really can not point fingers at the potential extinction of the site from foot traffic and nature’s elements.
We felt as though a million or so tourists showed up the same day as we to the historic site. Under the blazing sun and dripping humidity we dodged swarms of tour groups. If you thought cycling in Rome might be dangerous try getting in the path of a tour guide herding his potential tip paying guests in ancient Pompeii.
1.Rome 2.Pompeii 3.Positano 4.Cortona 5.Montepulciano 6.Bagno Vignoni 7.San Casciano 8.Sorano 9.Orvieto 10.Camogli 11.Nice
I’ll admit that grim curiosity brought me here. As a child the history lesson imprinted such horror in my imagination. Now here at the incredibly well preserved site, the scenes of everyday life play out as they did millennia ago.
One can wander down endless streets and pathways where large stepping stones kept the residents of Pompeii’s feet dry and kept the chariot traffic down. Talk about some serious speed bumps.
You can gaze at frescoes on walls and imagine life in these homes of Pompeii. In the room below two beds once lay and the residents ate while lying gazing at the beauty of their walls. All well and good until your room fills with volcanic debris.
You can gaze at marble and granite counters of fast food take out shops and mosaic tiled floors that could give modern day artisans quite the competition.
The sad, and in this case, very grisly truth is the people of Pompeii could not take any of the things with them. Perhaps the irony of it all is that their beautiful items were immaculately preserved by the speedy fall of the ash. Archaeologists centuries later hit the mother load of discoveries as the ash encased but did not crush the artifacts or the people.
Gazing in on rows of massive storage sheds closed off to the public, I could not help feeling unsettled at how the people of Pompeii might feel as the millions of eyes, including ours, peered through the screens.
Hubby and I made a pact not to leave each other on the storage room shelf.
Rest now Pompeii. May your visitors walk gently and be respectful your tragic loss, albeit thousands of years ago.