I rented a locker at the train station for my backpack. I kept my day pack to carry my camera lenses, what was left of the bread loaf and last bottle of mineral water. Other than a few coins, I had no money at this point. I grabbed a brochure for Pompei. Not a lot of info on the brochure. Pompei was buried in volcanic ash when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, exactly 1900 years before I toured the city. I left the train station to start walking the streets of Pompei. It was a beautiful day as I recall. In my journal I did not write much about this day, so I am writing mostly out of memory. Fortunately, I did take a lot of pictures to help me recall what I saw.
One of the first places I saw is called the Forum. This is where the citizens of Pompei would come together to talk and socialize. I guess it is like today’s version of meeting in online forums. This place must have been one of the first places excavated since it was clean and green with grass.
As I left the Forum and started walking the streets of Pompei one of the first things I noticed was the streets were made of large boulders placed tightly together to form the pavement. The sidewalks were about two feet higher that the street level. At the intersections there were large stones where pedestrians could cross the street without stepping down onto the streets. In the road surface you could see wagon wheel ruts. I guess the wagons where built to clear these large stones and the horses had to walk around them. At one of the intersections I recall placing my hand in one of the wheel ruts wondering about all the history of the place. What drama happened here for years before the city was destroyed. The happiness, sadness and all other emotions passed this spot. Was there a crime at this spot or was this a place where a couple’s met eyes for the first time. So many possibilities lost to history.
I walked on to the center of the city looking at what is left of the buildings. I found houses that were obviously where the wealthy lived. Some of the houses had open court yards seemed so inviting but now was in devastation. There were small statues which I understand are replicas of the originals which are now in museums. There was artwork painted on some of the walls that had plexiglass installed over them to protect them from the elements. One I recall was a beautiful painting of a large dog that looked a lot like a German Shepherd. That was in a place to be seen from the outside warning that a large dog was on guard.
I came across a place where pots and pans were positioned to show where a meal was being prepared in the fateful moments before the volcano covered the city. Nearby were glass cases where there were bodies made from plaster casts where voids were found during the excavations. One body looked like it was dressed as a warrior. Other were dressed simpler with a robe. There were smaller ones that were obviously children. The devastation did not discriminate.
Touring Pompei was fascinating and enlightening. It reminded me of Ecclesiastes 3 where no one is exempt from the times of life. There is a time to give birth and a time to die, etc.…
I made it back to the train station to call home to wish Mom a Happy Mother’s Day to confirm that the money was on the way to the American Embassy in Rome. I caught the 18:24 train to Rome.
The train pulled into the station in Rome at 21:45. I saw two guys I knew from L’Abri and they said they have a pension reserved and there was room for me if I wanted to tag along. I picked up a map of Rome on my way to the Pension. After eating what was left of the bread loaf and finishing of the bottle of mineral water, I slept well that night.
Swimming Pool at the Forum
Painting of a dog across the courtyard