The Ancient Ruins of Pompeii

The Ancient Ruins of Pompeii

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of things that are on my bucket list, so there’s been a lot of looking back, looking forward, looking inward at my fears and desires and a LOT of looking outside myself to try to understand a bit of the world around me. All this looking has been making me dizzy… and finally travelling to Pompeii… hello vertigo! So, with that in mind I do admit this post is a bit scattered, but here’s a few of my experiences from my time in Pompeii.

When I was a kid and first stumbled upon Pompeii it quickly became one of the many places that consumed my imagination, so visiting it was understandably emotional. I was excited to finally see with my own eyes the artifacts and building that were so remarkable intact from over two thousand years ago and to be honest, I was more than a bit scared I’d be let down by reality. I even put off my visit to Pompeii for days after arriving in Naples, Italy!

So, how was it? Amazing! There was less in some ways than I’d expected since many of the frescoes and sculptures are now in museums (which I also visited) but what is left is still almost overwhelming! I went back twice to try to take it all in and know that there are still things that I haven’t seen.

One of the biggest highlights for me was finally seeing with my own eyes the original Venus mural. I’d done a copy in one of my old apartments, seeing the real thing, right there in front of me was almost surreal. It was another of those moments where I felt like I was spiralling into the past, both remembering myself painting the copy as well as imagining the daily life events going on while this fresco was being painted over 2000 years ago. I was also quite firmly rooted in the present time trying to memorize every detail that I knew a photograph couldn’t capture. Quite magical really.

Wandering the streets seeing small details like the terracotta pipes peeking out from under the walkway, finding portraits of children on their bedroom walls, ancient graffiti, bars, restaurants and markets… It really stuck me that the people then were really no different than us now, that their ancient city was so similar in many ways to our modern world.

At one point I found myself running frantically for shelter when the sky very suddenly turned a menacing gray and thunder began rattling the air and buildings around us. It gave me a tiny, itsy-bitsy glimpse into the past when Vesuvius erupted in 79 CE and sent the citizens of Pompeii running in terror for cover. I could almost see the ghosts of the past fleeing from the chaos and I was so glad that for me it was only the threat of rain.

I also couldn’t help but think about the fact that the very rock they often used to build with was pumice stone from Mount Vesuvius, the very volcano that buried this beautiful city for so long, and at the same time preserved it in ash by that very act of destruction. Created with, destroyed by and preserved by the same Vesuvius that still stands watch over it today… quietly rumbling, waiting to erupt again.

Photo’s From The Ancient Ruins of Pompeii

One of the hardest parts of writing this is that not only do I know there is no way I can really share my experience with you in such a short post, but also that I have far more photos that I’d like to show than I can reasonably upload… but here’s some of my favourites from my time in Pompeii, Italy.

Entering the Pompeiian Ruins

Not a lot to say about this photo other than I had to take it a few times I was shaking so badly with excitement to finally travel to this amazing ancient city!

Pompeian Pottery

I loved the colours of the pottery in this photo. Since Pompeii was a thriving city there were of course lots of trade, these amphora vases held wine, olive oil, fish sauces, salted preserved fish and many other typical foods of the time.

House Of Mysteries
House of Mysteries

One of the best preserved houses in Pompeii, many of the frescoes are in almost perfect condition. The colours were so incredibly vivid!

Temple Of Isis
Temple of Isis

The frescos, statues and sculptures have been removed and placed in museums for safe keeping, but here’s the remaining ruins of the Temple of Isis. Quite beautiful even stripped down.

Pompeii Pub
Pompeii Pub

Pompeii certainly had no lack of bars, here’s one of the many well preserved ruins of an ancient pub. I don’t know about you, but I could happily sit in a place like that sharing gossip with the neighbours. The marble counter top on the bar is really beautiful!

Venus Mural
Venus and Cupids

One of the famous frescos in Pompeii, this is from the House of Venus, the name given to this house because of the amazing art in the courtyard. The colors in the photo just don’t do this artwork justice.

Plaster Casts Of People
Plaster Casts of the People of Pompeii

I’d seen photographs of this poor man before but what I hadn’t realized is that he was reaching towards a woman and child as he died, I almost burst into tears seeing the pain on his face. (Yes, some of the casts of the victims are so clear you can see their expressions.)

Storm Approaching
Storm Approaching

The sky turned dark so fast it was like someone pulled a blanket over us. I had a few seconds to catch this photo of a rainbow against the stormy sky and the sunlight illuminating the walls in Pompeii before I had to run for cover.

This photo is now available as a printable calender for 2011.


Zablon Mukuba October 29, 2010

its great you went to Pompeii and got to see the Venus mural. personally am afraid of seeing the things which i have imagined and have been waiting for because they end up disappointing me

Catia October 30, 2010

Yeah, I really was worried about that, it took me a few days before I even went to see the ruins… it was totally worth it though, had I not gone out of fear of being let down I’d have missed some amazing experiences.

greg urbano November 1, 2010

nice post on your firsthand experiences in pompeii, somewhat experiencing some fear while running the streets from a thunderstorm probably gave you an even deeper connection to the site

sammy December 3, 2010

Pompeii is an amazing historical landmark. Its been year since I visited there, but the impression is still alive. The restored ruins are amusing for their story frozen in the bricks and the casts of bodies, which recall the loss of the port city back to life. I think everyone should go and experience this incredible city.

grace December 4, 2010

I had a similar experience visiting pompeii and herculaneum.. we had been studying in highschool for a year and talking about it, watching documentaries – it was so surreal to GO there and EXPERIENCE it first hand! I think one of the most chilling things for me was seeing the casts of the people curled up in balls as the actual volcano erupted – captured forever.. as you said, quite a surreal experience! On a lighter note, did you happen to see the falic frescoes in the brothels and the falic “door signs” marking that they were brothels? hilarious! Pompeii’s red light district.. some things do not change after 2000 years!
ps. great blog! February 2, 2011

Hopefully the deterioration will not continue for long. However with the recent collapse of building and the Italian cultural budget being slashed there is hope that outside interests will work toward preserving this treasure for future generations.

Nicolai March 18, 2011

Sweet diggity you spike my inner most feared lusts, now I have to travel to Pompeii when I get back to Europe Catia.
I found a bit time, survived the jungle parting with a lot of blood thanks to the mosquitoes.

Cheers to the road!

Celine | 30 Before 30 March 20, 2011

Pompeii!!! That’s so funny, I’ve been fascinated with Pompeii too since hearing all the stories as a child. I’d forgotten all about it until you mentioned it. Now you’ve added another thing to MY bucket list. Glad you had a really great time!

Catia March 21, 2011

Celine and Nicolai, I can’t recommend it enough! It’s been one of the major highlights so far on my journey.

Grace, yup, saw those, the guy that volunteered to show me around made sure to point them all out. Did you get a chance to visit inside any of the brothels? There were some frescos in some of them in amazing condition. Until a while ago women weren’t allowed inside since it could ‘offend our delicate sensibilities’ hehe. Some things never change, others thankfully do. :)

Kyle Goes Global September 13, 2012

I had such a similar surreal experience in Pompeii! From reading about it as a child, I couldn’t wait to go, and next thing I knew, one day I was there and hadn’t done any research in the previous days or years about it, so it was overwhelming. I loved every second of being there and thought it was crazy how as soon as you leave, it’s just a normal town. What a site, I’d recommend it to everyone! Have you been to Ephesus in Turkey? Similar in size, but a vastly different set of ruins, highlighted by the Library of Celsus. Check it out if you get the opportunity!

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