The final stop on my travels around the Amalfi Coast in Italy was Pompeii. Given the recent ruminations of dear old Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland and our canceled cycling tour of Umbria, my boyfriend and I figured that paying a visit to its cousin Vesuvius wouldn’t be a bad way of appeasing the volcanic ash cloud gods.
On our last day on the Amalfi Coast we took the Circumvesuviana train from Sorrento to Pompeii to stand in awe of Mount Vesuvius and its power to destroy Pompeii in 79 AD.
We knew that Pompeii was a big place, but it wasn’t until we arrived and got our map and guide booklet at the information desk that we realized just how massive it was.
Over the course of the next four hours, we explored the ruins of temples, houses, theaters, coliseums, and Roman baths in Pompeii.
From huge collections of pottery to well-preserved mosaics, statues, and frescoes, Pompeii was remarkably intact for having undergone both major earthquake damage and a volcanic eruption in the span of 17 years. That’s to say nothing of the fact that the city was buried for the next 17 centuries.
We started our walk slowly, taking in the temples near the entrance and working our way to the massive forum. There we stopped to see some of the collections of household items in a small open-air building. Hauntingly, there were casts of bodies of people that had been killed in Vesuvius’ eruption.
Continuing along the path, we ducked into the recently restored Roman baths, which had rows of statues and remnants of wall paintings. The floors were covered with mosaics which were covered with rugs to protect them from our intruding feet, but the parts that were uncovered were stunning.
From the baths we explored several houses before making our way to the gorgeous Casa del Fauno, or House of the Faun. With elaborate gardens and a huge intact mosaic depicting a battle scene, the house was one of the highlights of Pompeii.
Moving on, we explored the theaters and the long street leading to the coliseum. By then the crowds were growing thick and we had a hard time maintaining our previous pace. We were able to explore a few more houses and get a glimpse of the coliseum, but our time in Italy was running out.
As we headed back to the Circumvesuviana to start our long train journey to Naples, then Rome, then the airport in Rome, we passed by some bright red poppies among the toppled columns of the once great city. We hoped that their presence was a sign from the volcano gods that our visit appeased them and no more of our trips would be canceled by volcanic ash clouds.
So far they’ve upheld their end of the bargain, so we hope our travels to Pompeii were not in vain.