Ashes to ashes
Friday, February 8, 2008 at 12:42AM
Abbey Hesser in Eurotrip, Italy, Pompeii, Rome

map naplesLocation: Pompeii, Italy

I finally made it to Pompeii.

I had this big plan to get up early and leave early, which didn't exactly happen, because of course I slept in until about 9:30 and then got up and ate breakfast and mingled before finally leaving. Me and Hannah got to Pompeii at about 2:30 and grabbed a chocolate croissant on the way to the ruins once inside the town.

We somehow managed to enter through the wrong entrance so we had to walk through the entire city ruins before we finally got to the booth that sold the audio guides (which were absolutely necessary since everything just looks like a ghost town). After getting out little guides, we set back and started our 2.5 hour journey through the most amazing ancient roman town.

So the deal with Pompeii is that it is was an ancient Roman resort town. It's about 15 minutes from the beach and nestled nicely up on the side of the base of Mt. Vesuvius. In 79 AD, Mt. Vesuvius erupted and buried Pompeii in ash. The entire city was preserved completely and 2,000 people died from being covered in ash. This makes it the most well preserved Roman city in the world. It's still not finished being excavated yet. There is still about 1/3 of the city that has been undiscovered.

So we started by walking to the forum (which, much like the Roman forum, in Rome) was basically a huge grassy square with a bunch of buildings surrounding it. There were a couple of banks and then the main temple in the middle. Most of the buildings are still in tact with the marble still showing through on most and there are a ton of statues and frescoes on the insides of the walls. The temple is very pretty and has a really interesting basement where they keep a lot of excavating tools now, but which originally would have kept sacrificial animals and things like that.

After this, we walked up to the north and around a commercial area with a fish market and a meat market and an old flower shop and some other stuff. In the fish market there was a body which was really creepy. This guy was lying down with his hands up kind of covering his face and he was screaming. It was so scary looking and I really can't believe that you could see the frozen facial expressions. It's amazing. In the fish market, there was also a really cool little terrace in the center where there probably was a gazebo, but just the foundation remains. There were also a couple statues which were neat to see. VERY old stuff here.

After this, we walked up to a residential area even farther north and looked in a couple of the houses. The thing to remember is that this was a resort town, so most of the buildings are extremely extravagant. There are tons of paintings, sculptures, gardens, huge rooms, indoor plumbing, headed walls and floors, it's crazy. So one of the houses we walked inside was called the House of the Fawn and is named after a statue of a fawn that sits in the center of the main corridor you walk in. This house had like 5 bedrooms and a huge bathroom that had heated floors. They would run heated water underneath the foundation which warmed up the tile floor (the floor was a mosaic of 3D cubes). There was also a huge garden and reception area that had a mosaic in one of the nooks of Alexander the Great. The garden is gorgeous and they've recreated what it would have looked like based on a fresco of the garden in one of the bedrooms. There were huge palm trees and shrubs and flowers hanging out of these little holes in the walls.

After this, we walked to the bathhouse which was nearby and is basically like a spa. This was one of the only buildings that we went into that actually still had it's entire roof on top of it. We were also really lucky because they had just opened up this exhibit (it's recently excavated and opened around the 1st of the year for the first time ever). This building was incredible. There was a main reception area that then split into three rooms, one was an atrium reception area with a dome on top of it. Then there was the women's baths and the men's baths. We went inside the men's bath. First, there is a big room that would have just been a social bath room. One big pool in the middle. Then there was a second room that had two baths, both made entirely of marble and completely preserved. One of them was for cold water, the other for hot water. The walls in this room are heated by pumping boiling water through these pipes in them. There were also pores in the walls so that the steam could come out and turn the room into like a sauna. It was crazy. There was also these really neat little statues in the room adjoining this one that lines the walls.

Next we went to the brothel. This was such a cool building. There were tiny little rooms (probably about 15 of them) that had a built in bed with a pillow and a door and that's it. Each girl got her own room and was literally owned by the owner. They were literal slaves and had absolutely no freedom. Men would leave graffiti on the walls basically to mark their territory or to warn newcomers of certain "special diseases" that the women may carry. They're mostly in greek and I tried to take some pictures of them. There were also portraits in each of the bedrooms of the girls and their favorite boys in their favorite positions. Ancient pornography. They were actually pretty vulgar.

After this, we walked down to another temple on the south side of the city by where we had entered originally, then went to see the stadium and theatre before returning our audio guides and starting the trek back to the train station. We stopped on the way in a bakery to get some choccolato caldo and a cannoli. This hot chocolate was very good, small glass which was good because it was extra thick (spoon only) and the cannoli was TO DIE FOR. I am not sure if I have ever had something so delicious. The cream in the middle was chocolate and very cold. The cone was perfectly crunchy mushy and then the whole thing was dipped in chocolate and then there were pistachios covering it. YUMMM!!

From here, we walked back to the train station, caught the train back to Rome and then made our way to the hostel for free pasta. Tonight was a pomodoro with artichokes. It was very yummy. I met some new Aussies, one from Perth and one from Melbourne and I think we're going to attempt to go out on the town so hopefully that will go well.

I had a nice long conversation tonight at dinner with one of the guys who runs this hostel who is from Canada but has lived in Italy for a long time. He was explaining to me all the mess that's been going on with the Italian government right now. I had said something about the communist parade that I saw in Milan and he was explaining to me how the current Prime Minister has basically been overthrown. The fascists have staged a coup (although, they aren't calling it a coup) and he told me that there is basically no government in Italy right now. Any day, the PM will be officially kicked out as leader of the country and then the fascists will appoint someone to take over. It's craziness. He said the communists have no chance, but that they think they are going to come in and rule the place so that's probably why the parade was going on in Milan.

No biggie.


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