Pompeii, Italy – September 8th 2013
Initial Thoughts: Before heading to Pompeii I was worried about the crowds. I had heard that at around 11am, huge groups arrived from nearby cruise ships so it was my mission was to arrive early. I took the 30 minute train from Sorrento and arrived at about 9am. From the moment I got onto the train, I knew it was going to be a very hot day. When I arrived, I found the lines fairly manageable and bought my ticket without any trouble. With my ticket in hand, I decided to take a moment in the shade to drink some water and eat a peach. While sitting I overheard a couple arranging a local guide and I realized that without looking I had found the small, guided group I had wanted to join. I immediately felt it was the right decision as the guide was organized, friendly and funny. His knowledge was impressive and he effortlessly painted a picture of life in 79AD as well as the devastating outcome of the eruption.
Favourite Moment: My favourite part of my visit to Pompeii was imagining the day-to-day life of a city in ancient times. I credit my guide as he pointed out all the interesting elements I would have missed. The local fast food stands that would have sold roasted chicken, grilled vegetables, fermented fish sauce and sangria. The holes in the sidewalks that were used to tie up donkeys and their carts. The sewage pipes and clean water fountains in the centre square that still function today. The communal baths for both men and women including their love-struck graffiti. The double layered floors that produced central heating almost two thousand years ago. I loved imaging the lives of the ‘citizens’ as they worked daily from 7am to 12pm. As they visited the spa, discussed philosophy, attended lessons in the square, drank local wine and had long dinners of local produce. It reminds me yet again that all of humanity has the same basic needs and basic desires. We really are all the same.
Takeaways: Pompeii reminded me that I must take time to embrace the pleasurable moments in life. Even in 79AD, this community thrived on the wonderful Italian ideals of good food, good wine, good company, and beautiful views. The philosophers and architects of the time believed that surrounding oneself with beauty allowed beauty to flourish within. I don’t know if their lives really were beautiful or not, but I plan to surround myself with beauty, pleasure and the Italian lifestyle. Hopefully one day, I too will be a beautiful, happy person. Inside and out.
Useful Information: Pompeii is an easy day trip from most Amalfi Coast towns. You can catch an hourly train from Naples or Sorrento. I would recommend taking a guided tour provided by a local. I paid 10 Euro for a 2 hour tour and it was well worth the money as the site is large, unmarked and rich with history that you may miss without the additional insight.