We went to Pompeii for the day. When we got there, the line for tickets caused my parents much dismay. My mother cleverly arranged a tour for not much more than the cost to enter solo, and off we went -- avoiding the wait! Our guide, Luca, was very informative. It certainly helped that his English was very good (given that this was an English language tour...). We saw many interesting things, although we didn't cover more than about half of the area.
|My dad, the intrepid explorer, looking cute.|
|The little projections with holes are docking points for the boats -- tie your ropes up there. Current ground level in Pompeii is about 20 feet above that, I'm guessing.|
Pompeii actually is sited on a hill that was the result of a previous eruption, and has little to no soil -- it's all on rock. That being the case, the inhabitants had a major problem: drainage. They did run plumbing under the sidewalks in some locations to take care of the icky stuff, and many houses had cesspits that they emptied periodically to (you guessed it) fertilize their crops. But during the rainy season (winter), the roads often became rivers. For this reason, they had large stepping stones across the streets.
|One of the many sets of stepping stones across the street. Some were much higher.|
|Eleanor's in a rut right now.|
|This was a 1-to-2 pipe join. They put cement and terra cotta over the join because if there was a leak, the terra cotta would darken -- providing a visual cue to repair the joint!|
The entire town was frescoed, so what we see today is something the guide calls "a lady without her clothes." However, we did see portions of frescoes here and there. They were used as signage. Although everyone spoke Latin, it was highly dialectical. This was problematic for trade, so they used what amounted to a visual menu: you want fish? Point to the picture. You get the idea. The red was made with a mixture of animals' blood and cinnabar. The blue was from ground shells.
|An option on the menu of a local brothel.|
|Another menu item...|
|Because a snake sheds its skin, it symbolizes new life -- hence its use in medical iconography. This was on the outside of a pharmacy||.|
An important aspect of Roman life is the concept of public bathing. There were not typically baths in people's houses; instead, the Romans went to the public baths daily. There were four public baths in Pompeii, including one right near the docks. Do you think the smelly sailors were ready to get clean after months on a tiny boat? I can practically smell them from here!
|This was a water fountain in the baths for rehydration. Then you go back & sweat some more!|
|Part of a frieze in the tepidarium of the main public baths.|
|The local "joint" for fast food.|
|A bakery oven.|
|This is one of the few home kitchens. |
|A view of the larger theatre. There was a wooden stage. The center is the orchestra pit, and the lower seats are for important people. This theatre has been restored and is in use today.|
|The lower section was marked by the eagle's claw (showing power) while the upper section (barely visible behind the claw) shows a muscleman -- doing the "heavy lifting" -- denoting the section for the working classes.|
There were many beautiful villas, but also a fair number of working houses. The shops would have had timbered stories above the lower stone walls. They were used to house the family. Alternatively, the rooms above were let out to sailors. If the sailors "forgot" to pay their rent, then the wooden ladders to the upper floors were removed and the tenants held hostage. Kind of like the opposite of an eviction.
|More frescoes in a villa.|
|Phallic symbols showed luck & fertility and were used on wealthy people's houses.|
|A mosaic floor in a wealthy person's villa. The pieces are about 5 mm on a side.|
|Part of Apollo's temple, which was left. Pompeii was a Greek city before being taken by the Romans.|
After our tour, we had a lunch break in a lovely park-like area next to the main theatre. Then we headed to La Villa dei Misteri. It's a place whose frescoes are shown in all the art history books in the world, I'd bet. While much of the building was damaged, there are nonetheless some fabulous areas. Part of the reason is that the frescoes were covered with ash (not lava), and the polished surface of the fresco meant that the ash didn't actually stick all that well.
|A tower plus the defensive wall.|
|A view of Pompeii over one of the walls. And this is just a fraction of it.|
|Another view of Pompeii over the defensive wall.|
|One of the mosaic floors in the Villa Dei Misteri|
|Graffiti in the Villa Dei Misteri (it was covered in plexiglas, so I think it dates to the time period...)|
|Frescoes in the Villa Dei Misteri.|
|Fresco showing the command of perspective in the Villa Dei Misteri.|
|Floor in the Villa Dei Misteri|
|A tomb in Pompeii|
|Believe it or not, this is a smoked mozzarella.|
|A town? A state of mind? Who knows?|
p.s. I posted some pretty pictures below of flowers and landscapes, but no captions. Sorry about the lousy formatting, but I'm tired of fighting with graphics at the moment...