The final stop on our little adventure ended up being Pompei. It’s actually a huge place. We didn’t really get to see all of it. We decided to take the tour that bus2alps offers, probably one of the better things that I got suckered into on the trip. Our guide was pretty amazing. An older, tiny Italian man that kept referring to us as his little family. Then he talked about his seven year old nephew for awhile. Needless to say, I liked him a lot. It helped that he was a spiffy dresser with a clean shave. He also definitely knew his stuff, from the parts we could understand through his dashing Italian accent.
On the short, Pompei was a city that was about 300 kilometers away from the ocean around 1 AD. It was pretty much a coastal city and was ironically built on volcanic rock. I say ironically because volcanic ash is what ultimately buried Pompei around 79AD. It buried the city about 20 feet above sea level left untouched until the 1700s when it was discovered remarkably intact. Now, about 2, 500, 000 people see it every year…thank you Wikipedia.
Here’s the reason that the tour was worth it…other than Tony…we got to go into sections that was closed off to the rest of the people visiting. Twice he unlocked gates for our gigantic bus2alps group and we got to enter the cool shade of an area less traveled. The first section was an area that was around a gym. There were hot baths and cold baths, changing areas and prostitution sections. One section we were in, Tony got a little chuckle out of showing us the menu for the prostitution room. It was really bazaar to see it up on the wall in a fresco from 2000 years old, images that I would expect to see in a dirty edition of Cosmo. He really enjoyed the reaction from people when he told us though. Suddenly the snapshots of the old walls took on a whole new meaning. It was interesting that these rooms were in such close contact to the rest of the building since it was used for the baths and the gym area. Anyone could see who the clients were.
A large part of the frescoes in Pompei were of sea creatures and displays of daily activities and religious beliefs. In a room off to the side of the one I talked about previously was an opening in the ceiling. It was once used as a cold bath where people would sit after their hot baths or work outs at the gym and close up their pores. At the top was a beautiful mosaic fountain that once trickled down a waterfall into the large bath. It is amazing that most of it is still in tact today. It really is unbelievable.
The idea that all of the things that we were seeing once belonged to people like us didn’t sink in until we saw the castings of the people that were buried in the ash. The bones of the bodies are casted, showing how they were found during the excavation of the city. In sections the bones show through the clay, revealing the bone structure that is identical to that of mine. For me that was the most personal part of Pompei.