One Day in Pompeii

Once in Napoli you have to visit Pompeii. Amazingly enough, even after 2000 years, it’s still there. Having seen the documentary Pompeii: The Last Day (BBC)  lately and the movie “The Last Days of Pompeii” at a very young age, the only images I had in my mind were those of the tragic destiny of inhabitants of Pompeii after the deadly eruption of Vesuvius. Taking the train for 30 minutes in order to visit the archaeological city of Pompeii was an adventure itself. It felt like a trip back a century ago. The train was so old, giving wrongfully the impression of going into peaces at any moment by driving at such a high speed. But that was nothing compared to the sensation of going through the roads of Pompeii, once completely buried for more than 15 centuries under 4 millions tonnes of rock, purnice stones and ash spilled over from now sleeping mountain of Vesuvius.

After centuries of neglect, excavations have returned in full swing in the second most visited archeological site in Europe, after Colosseum in Rome. And that’s for a good reason. Pompeii is simply too fascinating and important to the world heritage to leave it buried under the ashes of neglect. A grant from EU in 2012 amounting 100 million Euros and an additional 30 million Euro appropriated from Italian government are revolutionizing the site. About 3 million visitors from all over the world come to grasp the enchantment of the antic city.

It’s impressive to see how well organized and structured Pompeii was. The size of the houses shows to the status of the inhabitants in that society. From the small surfaced room of the tragic poet, the middle-sized houses of gladiators, to the opulent temples of wealthy masters. In the end the civilization hasn’t change much in the last 20 centuries in terms of wealth preservation and classification.

For a team of more than 200 archeologists, anthropologists and technicians working in this ambitious project has been an ongoing emotional process discovering the bodies of victims encased in solidified ash. These discoveries together with the objects and their belongings replay not only the last moments of Pompeians, but also provide clues to their social-economic class and the lifestyle. It is believed that Pompeii ethnic diversity due to trade compares to London or New York nowadays.

Spending one day in Pompeii was for me not only an unique experience – grandiose in size, but also an emotional revival of the overwhelming tragedy in the history of civilization.