Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Wonders of Pompeii

I have to confess that visiting ruins has never been one of my favorite things to do. I just couldn't get excited about trying to figure out from a pile of rocks how a building must have looked thousands of years ago. Quite frankly, I was disappointed after visiting Olympia Greece, the site of the ancient Olympic games a couple of years ago and left with the feeling of "Is that all there is?"

Having said this, I can tell you that I was fascinated with Pompeii because so much of it is extremely well preserved. The frescoes in some of the homes of the well-to-do Romans were colorful and vivid which brought Pompeii to life for me. This is incredible when you consider that Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD and completely buried Pompeii. The two hours we spent there just flew by.

Our guide was particularly good at explaining how the Romans lived; she showed us a Pompeii fast food outlet, which looked more like a soup kitchen; the Pompeii equivalent of pedestrian crosswalks and speed bumps and the all-time Roman favorite -- the brothel. The frescoes in the brothel were also vibrant and quite explicit -- just pick your sex and position and have a good time. Our guide reminded us that there was no "flashing" allowed in the brothel - from the camera or otherwise.

It's hard to imagine the destructive force of Mt. Vesuvius as it rained tons of ashes upon Pompeii one fine August afternoon in 79 AD. One minute you're going about your business and the next minute you're history.

Look at the man in the photo to the left. He was found under the ashes frozen in time when Pompeii was excavated. I wonder what he was thinking before the lights went out. Whatever it was, it brings a whole new meaning to the expression, "hold the thought."

More photos of Pompeii