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.
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!
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
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
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 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 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 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.)
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.