Tuesday, November 17, 2009


One of the first things that struck me when I visited Pompeii a few weeks ago was the pure size of the place. The site is absolutely huge and, instead of staying just a day, I could have stayed a week or more to explore the fantastic ruins. I could clearly imagine how the people lived, went about their everyday lives, and bought and sold their wares. Evidence of the extensive traffic can be seen in the deep ruts in the thoroughfares. One can only imagine the amount of traffic that caused such deep indentations in hard stone.

Between 1860 and 1875, a gentleman called Giuseppe Fiorelli, Director of Excavations at Pompeii began an extensive program to preserve the body forms that were left after Vesuvius erupted. Under mountains of ash, the bodies lay where they had died in 79 AD. Fiorelli used a method that is still in use today. It begins by pouring liquid plaster into the cavity left in the compacted ash by the body. The plaster dried quickly providing a near perfect form of the deceased – whether human or animal - absolutely fascinating!

Unfortunately, I did not have time to visit Herculaneum, a sister city of Pompeii that was also destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted, but I understand from other travelers, it’s well worth a visit too. Perhaps next time!

Please note: "The ascent to the edge of the crater costs 6 Euro. It closes between 3 PM and 6PM depending on the season. It is recommendable to visit the Vesuvius on working days, as locals like to visit it on weekends and this can lead to traffic jams."