What do we learn in visiting Pompeii? When our Trafalgar group visited Pompeii en route to the Amalfi Coast, some of our parties were stunned by the scale of the disaster. They had expected to see some ruins, like some of the castles you see as shattered debris. Instead we found not a reconstruction, but a town of 20,000 people preserved since AD 79 because of the nature of the catastrophe.
The event was well documented by the Roman historian, Pliny the Younger, who was staying on the opposite, safe side of the volcano Vesuvius, and wrote 2 letters to his historian friend Tacitus.
We know there were plenty of warnings as only 4000 bodies were found. The first thing we learn is that the smart people got out of town. There was no lava flow involved. Vesuvius erupts explosively, releasing poisonous gases, rocks and enormous quantities of ash which buried the town to a depth of 6 metres, effectively fossilising all that remained.
So we are left with a text book example of a Roman town and a lesson in survival. Sometimes you can’t.
The top two images show the large, beautiful outside theatre area, also used for exercise, the next our tour group in the hot room in the men’s bath house, the next the impressive outside walls of this fortified city and the deeply rutted roads in the city centre.
In the background of the next two Vesuvius is seen, still active and incredibly dangerous to the 600,000 people who live in the towns around the base of the mountain today.