One of the places I wanted to visit while in Italy was Pompeii – not because of the porn room so many people have told me about, but just because! So while staying in Rome we took the train to Pompeii on a day that began with clear skies and warmth. At that time we had only been on fast trains so this was our first local train experience, complete with busking gypsies walking the carriages.
Being a local train, the journey wove through high density urban living which thinned out a little the closer we got to the volcano. Mt Vesuvius occupied the skyline as we passed it in the train, and after experiencing its size it is hard to fathom that people actually continue to live so close to this volcano.
After alighting from the train the entry to Pompeii was only a short walk. One thing we had noticed about Italy was its crazy, and seemingly inefficient, queuing and entry system, and Pompeii was no different! After standing in a queue to buy tickets we then stood in a separate queue to get a map, and then if we had wanted to store luggage, bags or jackets we would have had to walk in a completely different direction – luckily we didn’t! Why not get given a map with the ticket, and why not have the cloak room next to the ticket box? Oh well…
Walking around Pompeii was amazing, and eerie! An environment frozen in time, including the occasional body. Of course, by following the map we got lost a few times (another thing we noticed about Italy was incredibly inaccurate maps and poor signage) so we decided to follow our noses. My partner, Stobe, had been to Pompeii in 1991 when it was still free to enter, and he said it was now much cleaner and more restorative work had been carried out. Some parts of the city were still in ruin, as excavated, but other parts were being restored to portray how life was lived at the time. Other parts were closed off – either being researched and restored or given a rest.
It was especially surprising to see that some murals in certain rooms had survived, while the adjacent room was devastated… it reminded me of bushfires – one house burns to the ground, while the next house remains untouched. The vividness of the colours in these murals was amazing after a major volcano eruption and two thousand years later.
Another interesting feature in many of the houses was a square shallow pool complete with small drainage channels, set into the floor of what was probably a living area, and directly above the pool was an open square cavity in the roof. Obviously the pool was designed to capture water and transport that water to other areas of the house, but in some houses – maybe all due to the central location of the pools in the homes – it seemed it was also to bath in a social environment, like modern spa baths. The Romans enjoyed public baths, and obviously included them in their homes. Many of these pools had tables located nearby, possibly for food or water jars, and some were complete with inbuilt bench seating.
You may have noticed the above left image has a plant growing inside the room. Pompeii is still largely devoid of plants apart from some wineries that have been planted from seeds that have been found on the site. The orchards have been planted to recreate the vineyards including vines as closely as possible to how they originally were before the eruption. I can’t help but wonder if the above plant randomly sprung up from some sort of seed or remaining rootstock, which would therefore indicate the growing of such plants within the rooms of these homes.
And when it came to entertainment outside of the home, no Italian city is complete without a Colosseum, and Pompeii’s was pretty grand, complete with original marble slabs intact on some of the seating.
As we wandered around the city the clouds began rolling in so that when we were eventually in a good position to photograph the volcano clouds were hugging its peak… why hadn’t I taken a photo from the train?
Toward the end of our wanderings we stumbled across the Necropolis, or cemetery. We came across it at the end of our exploring because the dead were always buried outside the city walls by the Romans. This part of the city was in incredibly good condition, and contained a string of ornate family tombs running along both sides of a central pathway.
And leaving the best till last: the ceramics of Pompeii. Clay was used in ancient times for everything from burial urns to cooking to mosaic surfaces to drainage systems, and many examples survived the volcano.
And what of that porn room you ask?? We didn’t see it! We were visiting during winter and there was quite a large section that was closed off, presumably being rested and cleaned up before the tourist season- I reckon that is where the porn room was located… oh well! I guess that’s yet another excuse to go back to Italy!