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Our Wakes: 2017

Pompeii: (15 April- 2017) & Herculaneum: (11 May 2017)
  During our various trips in Italia we realized how much volcanic activities and earthquakes have   shaped the country and will continue to do so. We were reminded of the impact of the  earthquakes during our visits to Assisi and Sienna. At the end of 2016 Italy suffered a series of  earthquakes around Rome. But one of the most tragic event in its history is undoubtedly the  story of Pompeii and Herculaneum, both cities located on the slopes of Vesuvius, south of Naples.   Rich Romans had their luxurious villas in Pompeii because the climate was really pleasant, as they  were located close to the sea and often enjoyed a fresh sea-breeze during the day. The ground  was also fertile because of the volcanic activity and the soil give good grapes for good wine. Unfortunately on the 24th of August 79 AD, Vesuvius erupted violently. There were some  warning signs, but not everybody considered them as serious. Ash was thrown 20km up into the  sky and suddenly, a hot flow of toxic gases at 500 degrees Celsius swept down the volcano and  instantly killed all those exposed to the gases. Afterwards, everything was covered in ash untill  the 18 century when excavation started. Today some parts of Pompeii have been cleared and the  ash removed so we can now see how the city was organized. At the beginning of the visit you can  see docks for ships remindingus that Pompeii was located next to the sea.   A little bit higher up, you reach the city of Pompeii with its numerous streets as well as public  gathering places such as the forum, the market and the amphitheater. Some streets were  reserved for pedestrians with occasional big houses, but others were more commercial. The  commercial streets are seriously rutted in places due to the wheels of the ox-carts. Alongside  the commercial streets there were many small shops with restaurants that today could be  compared to fast foods shops as people took the food away with them. More than 70 restaurants  have been located so far. There were also numerous bakeries and around 40 brothels in Pompeii.  At the intersection of the streets, there were some blocks of rocks that allowed pedestrians to  cross the streets without getting dirty. In those time the streets also served as the gutters.   Some areas of the city were occupied by luxurious houses. Often the houses had 2 floors and a  central patio with a little pond. Pompeii had a water distribution system with lead pipes. The  houses were very quiet places and the inside walls were beautifully decorated with paintings that  have been well preserved because they were covered by ash. During our visit, a breeze nicely  cooled the houses. Not far from Pompeii, we see Vesuvius reminding everybody that he is still  there. Today geologists believe that while Vesuvius is for the moment dormant but he could  awake violently  at any time. Let’s hope that the warning signs will be  interpreted correctly next  time to avoid another tragedy.  When you visit  Pompeii today you do not get a morbid feeling. At one place you see somemolds   of bodies. Soon after being killed, the bodies were covered in ash forming a coffin. The corpses  started to decay and left a cavity in the ashes. Archeologists later filled the cavities with  plaster and got molds of the victims. Some of the corpses are on display in Pompeii but most of  them are preserved in Naples. If you want to complete your visit it is highly recommended that  you visit the museum of Naples as it has a large collection of artifacts collected during the  excavations as well as numerous paintings that have been brought to the museum for better  preservation.  Herculaneum Often people associate Pompeii with Herculaneum. The 2 locations are separated from each  other by more than 15 km. Herculaneum being located more southerly than Vesuvius, has been  less covered by ash. At the time of the eruption, Herculaneum was evacuated and the victims  that have been found were close to the shore. Today archaeologists believe that they were  waiting to be evacuated by sea,  but unfortunately, rescue arrived too late. The bodies were not  buried in ash so the skeletons of the unfortunate ones are all that remain there.  The city is well preserved and when wandering in the streets you get a sense of what it was in  the old times. Herculaneum had several restaurants etc., but clearly it was quieter than Pompeii.  Today a big part of the ancient city is still invisible as it lies underneath the modern city. If you  happen to be around Vesuvius take the timeto visit Herculaneum. Both cities are worth visiting  because they give you a different perspective of what it was like in the time of the Romans.. 
Forum with Vesuvius behind Mold of a victim Roads are in bad condition.... Mill in bakery Fastfood restaurant RecoveredArtifacts Wall paintings Floor tiles Amphitheater Patio of house Patio of house Burned shutters Forum Top of this Page Previous Page Next Page