Day 12: Part Two, Pompeii

After spending about four hours wandering around the ruins of Herculaneum, we hopped the train to continue on to Pompeii. By now, it was lunch time and we were starved so we stopped to grab a quick sandwich from a shop just outside the site. Once we had that less-than awesome meal, we headed inside to explore the city of Pompeii.

One should note here that while it is possible to visit both sites in one day and get a great feel for them both, I don’t recommend trying to do it during the summer when the temperatures are moving past the 100 degree mark. There is little to no shade at either site and there is lots of walking since you’re essentially exploring two different cities. Just a little FYI. Also, it’s important to note that both Pompeii and Herculaneum are ongoing archaeological sites, meaning that often sections or buildings will be closed off due to restoration efforts or current digs. So, don’t be surprised if you can’t get in to see every highlight. On our trip a couple of the more famous houses, such as the House of the Vettii, were off limits. Such is life, just enjoy all of the great areas you can explore!

Here’s a link to Pompeii’s wikipedia page should you like more detail info on the buried city. POMPEII

And here are a few photos!

The 2nd century BCE Basilica of Pompeii. It had been badly damaged in the earthquake of 62 CE and had not yet been reconstructed when the eruption occurred. This was the judicial and commercial heart of the city.

what remains of the Temple of Apollo

street view with a public fountain in the foreground

Latin inscriptions in the forum

column-lined streets of the forum

Vesuvius looms large in the background.

one of several storerooms displaying some of the pottery that has survived

one victim of the volcanic eruption

There are casts of several victims throughout the city.

And there are also bones from various homes and tombs.

surviving wall fresco

Down the street on the right are the remains of the Temple of Fortuna Augusta.

detail from one of the city’s public baths


bath house from the forum baths

floor mosaic from the House of the Tragic Poet. The inscription on the mosaic says, “Cave Canem,” or “Beware of the Dog.”

tavern. The citizens of Pompeii didn’t want to have to cook every night either!

This is the atrium to what was the largest and grandest home in Pompeii, the House of the Faun.

floor mosaic

one of the bakeries

These were some of the millstones that ground grain into flour. Carbonized loaves of bread were excavated from the shelves and walls at the right.

the oven

one of the x-rated scenes painted on the wall of the largest of Pompeii’s 25 brothels

another scene at the brothel

This is one of the original ten beds in the largest of Pompeii’s brothels.

wall carvings from the Stabian baths

another home, another victim

one of the rooms of the Stabian baths, Pompeii’s oldest public baths

part of the Stabian bath complex

surviving decor

filling up at the fountain

Pompeii’s main theater

A stairway to heaven? Many of Pompeii’s buildings did originally have second floors, but few of those areas survived the burial of the city in volcanic ash and debris.

taken from inside the theater

surviving wall decor from one of the homes

the atrium of one of the homes

wall painting detail from the House of Menander. A 115 piece silver service was found in the basement of this home during excavations.

wall painting detail

another tavern for some ancient fast food

surviving fresco

Pompeii’s amphitheater

Temple of Isis

This is one of the main thoroughfares in Pompeii. The three stones across were for pedestrians so they didn’t need to step into the nastiness that ran in the streets (think lots of horses, dirty rain water, and sewage issues). The ruts were carved into the stone by the many chariots that passed along this roadway.

a tomb for a priestess of Venus on the Street of Tombs

view of the Street of Tombs

wall decor from the Villa of the Mysteries

The Villa of the Mysteries was a large 2nd century BCE residence just outside of town. It houses many of Pompeii’s finest surviving wall paintings.

the wine making room at the Villa of the Mysteries

part of the elaborate dining room scene at the Villa of the Mysteries

one of the many surviving tiled floors

more from the main dining room at the Villa of the Mysteries

It’s amazing what survive both Mother Nature and time, isn’t it?

After a long, hot, crowded train ride back to Naples, we decided to order room service and just relax after having been out in the heat all day. Stay tuned for the return to Rome! 🙂

Day 12: An Wannabe Archaeologist’s Wet Dream

Many moons ago, I was an archaeology major at the only university that truly matters in my state. 😉 While there, majors in our department had to take a variety of classes on archaeology, anthropology, and history. For our history requirements, some of our choices for courses came from the art history department. In all, I’ve taken I think four art history classes at the collegiate level, and I don’t mind saying that that first one kicked my ass! But that first was one majorly important as it was all about Etruscan and Roman art and sculpture. It was in this class, that I first met the Primaporta Augustus and the Farnese Hercules. This class taught me how to lay a grid for groundwork digging and how to interpret the mythology of various temple reliefs. My professor in this class was strict, no frills, and extremely knowledgeable. He also happened to be the lead archaeologist at Pompeii at that time. He spent his summers (and the occasional semester) working on further uncovering the buildings and artifacts left behind after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Had I stayed at my beloved university, it’s quite likely I would have spent some time working under him, exploring the mysteries of what was part of Ancient Rome. However, to make a long story very short- I met my husband, made a decision, transferred schools to be near him, and ended up majoring in a”Well-what-the-hell-am-I-supposed-to-do-for-a-career-now?” Not that I regret making that choice, but having the opportunity to visit somewhere like Pompeii was a very poignant and special opportunity for me.

Since the husband finished up his work on time during our week in Naples, we were fortunate enough to have time to plan a day trip to not only Pompeii, but also its “sister-site” Herculaneum.

After breakfast at the hotel, we hopped an early bus to get to the Naples train station in order to catch a train to nearby Ercolano on the slopes of Vesuvius. The train tickets and traveling system were fairly easy to figure out, though signage in the station is a little lacking. But the ride from Naples to Ercolano was only about 15 minutes, and we got to the Herculaneum site just as it was about to open. For about the first hours, it was just, a flock of nuns, and an older British couple. The husband played tour guide reading from a great guide that we had purchased at Naples’ archaeological museum with layouts, maps, and details about both Herculaneum and Pompeii. He directed to us to various sites while I got a chance to play camera nazi and tell him little tidbits that I remembered from my archaeology classes.

Herculaneum is far smaller than Pompeii. It was a seaside town which is interesting to note since it is not any longer. You can stand on some of the ruined houses that were at one time oceanfront dwellings. Now they front a massive wall many feet high of cooled, dried lava. Because of the eruption, the coastline actually moved about 1,500 feet to its present location. Like Pompeii, Herculaneum suffered tremendous damage in a large earthquake in 62 CE, from which it only started to recover when Vesuvius erupted in 79 CE. However, unlike Pompeii which pretty much got smothered in ash, Herculaneum was actually overrun by flows of volcanic mud.

A few photos from the town of Herculaneum:

a view of the city as you enter from above

surviving painting

inside one of the buildings

Poseidon and Amphitrite

Unfortunately, there’s no wine left in these guys.

surviving frescoes

remains of a bed

This building was appropriately called “The House of the Wooden Screen.” Here you can see the surviving wooden screen.

You can really see the amount of shifting in the floor. I can’t remember if this one was still damage from the earthquake or if it was caused during the volcanic eruption, but either way… that’s a LOT of movement!

more surviving room decor

This was taken standing in one of the homes that USED to be oceanfront. Now, you look out and what do you see? The wall of solidified volcanic mud that covered the city.


love the red columns

part of the city


A shot that gives you some idea of what the buildings looked like when they stood. Most of them were two stories, but few of those second stories survive today.

fragment of sculptural decor

wall paintings

My next house is totally getting some Roman-like wall paintings!


inside one of the homes

inside one of the baths

floor mosaic in the bath house

Look! An ancient Roman spork! 😉

wall decor

Herculaneum’s versions of McDonald’s


street view


broken pottery


another street view


surviving frescoes


one home’s private altar


another home, another altar


floor tiles


more wall paintings


multicolored marble floor tiles


I loved all the different wall painting styles and colors.


part of what used to be a HUGE house– The treed area is what was their atrium.


more floor mosaics


a look down on the oceanfront houses from the top of the lava wall


inside another home

That’s probably enough pic spam/porn for today, ha! Hopefully they all come out, since I know I have to go back and edit a couple of posts that got overloaded with pics in earlier reports. Stay tuned for Part Two: Pompeii!