When I was in primary school, our class did a project on Pompeii in Italy. Ever since then, I’ve been desperate to go. I love historical sites and finding out about the people that once lived there so I knew Pompeii would be right up my street. When we were planning our mini Euro trip, I decided if I could I had to fit Pompeii in and that’s exactly what we did.
Pompeii was founded by the Oscans ( Central Italians ) in the 7th – 6th century BC. The town was conquered a couple of times although it was the Samnites in the 5th century that enlarged the city and began to change the architecture.
However, Pompeii was unfortunately situated next to Mount Vesuvius which caused a number of problems. Firstly, they were hit with a number of devastating earthquakes – the largest being in AD 62 which caused death and destruction all over Naples but particularly to Pompeii. Naples began to get used to tremors or small scale earth quakes over the years and seventeen years later, they didn’t recognise the signs when there were tremors felt continually over 4 days.
On 20th August 79 AD, tremors began to be felt all over Naples. On the 22nd August, There was a violent eruption from Mount Vesuvius. Rescues began to save those surrounding the volcano, However, On the 23rd Pyroclastic flows began. They flows were very hot and very fast – destroying and killing anything that came in its way. For the next 24 – 48 hours, the flows continued, tremors were felt and there was a mild tsunami in Naples.
There were roughly around 16,000 – 20,000 people living in towns surround Mount Vesuvius. 1500 Bodies have since been found, However, the death toll is completely unknown. If people weren’t killed by the flows they were killed by poisonous gases. Leaving this volcanic eruption, one of the biggest recorded in European history.
The information we known is from letters from Young Pliny who witnessed the event from afar. He lost his uncle – also named – Pliny, due to the volcano erupting as he went to try and save those who lived there. Ashes covered Pompeii and surrounding towns leaving them forgotten about after time.
Pompeii was rediscovered in 1748 by the Spanish military revealing a hidden city. After digging up this mysterious world, they found perfectly mummified bodies, intact buildings and a whole new meaning to sexuality and the new prudish Europeans even hid evidence of the sexuality in the city which was later found (again!) in 1998.
Today, Pompeii is a popular tourist site and has been for the last 250 years. Roughly 2.6 million visitors go a year.
- Take lots of time! It can take up to 3 days to see absolutely everything!
- Take a hat and sun cream! There is barely any shade at all!
- We used a local cafes ‘car space’ and paid them – they looked after it and we ate with them after. It worked out well although, we did find a sign for an official Pompeii car park after!
- Pompeii, also has a town – Pompei – which is still very much a running town to explore.
- We stayed near the Amalfi coast and were able to drive to Pompeii in approx 1 hour!
- I found it pretty cheap visiting Pompeii especially since you can tickets to explore other towns affected by the volcano eruption too.
- Be prepared for crowds!