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Aim, Focus, Shoot - The HyPyC blog
The ruins of Pompeii

Pompeii - "In your poses, the dust settled around us"

During my stop in Naples I visited the ancient ruins of Pompeii - For people who don't know, Pompeii was a Roman town that was destroyed and partially buried as a result of a cataclysmic eruption from Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Due to the layers of ash that buried the town, the actual ruins are perfectly preserved and once excavated, provided an amazing freeze-frame of life in ancient Rome.

Columns from one of the temples in Pompeii

Millions of tourists flock to this ancient site every year, but it is understandable - The quality and completeness of the ruins really is spectacular, while the history and disastrous ending to this unfortunate group of Romans is harrowing yet intriguing.

Where is Pompeii? How much to get in?

Pompeii is to the South East of Naples, and roughly a 30-40 minute bus drive - although it is a decent distance, the majority of the journey is on the A3 road which is like an English motorway. We pre-booked a tour through our cruise company which included transport (but not the entrance fee).

The Port of Naples

If you are not on a pre-booked tour, there is a train-line that runs past the ruins - Get on at station Piazza Garibaldi which is next to Naples Centrale, and get off at Pompeii Scavi - The train takes approximately 40 minutes and costs no more than 4 Euro. There are several stations around Pompeii so you have multiple options to fit your timetable - Pompeii Scavi, Pompeii Valle and Pompeii.

The actual entrance fee for the ruins was 11 Euro each (for an adult ticket, circa September 2013) which I considered to be good value for the amount of time you could spend here. There is a main square with various shops, and restaurants - this is where our bus dropped us of, however the actual ticket stands and entrance is to the left as shown on the image below.

Map showing the bus drop off in relation to the actual site entrance

Be wary of stray dogs roaming the site - I don't like to see stray dogs, and I can't help but get upset, so I inevitably end up fussing them, and feeding them - 99% of the time they are friendly and just want some attention - Do this at your own risk though.

Visions of the past: witnessing a city destroyed during it's prime

Can you picture going about your day to day business, maybe engaging in trade, taking a walk down to the amphitheatre or worshiping at the temple of Apollo - For you life is good, life is rewarding, you live in a prosperous, developing city. You are blissfully unaware that this will be your last day on earth, that your dreams and future will be shattered in an instant, that Vesuvius will shortly burst forth with a cascade of death and destruction and cover all you love in a wave of ash.

To me the story of Pompeii is fascinating, so when I entered the ruins I was enthralled and my imagination was going wild - What did these buildings look like completed? What were the people like? What would they be feeling as they saw the ash raining down? There is so much to see in Pompeii, I think a guided tour would be a good idea as you will undoubtedly learn more, however it was great to just walk round at our own pace end explore in our own time.

Ruins of a house in Pompeii with complete jars Pillar section Columns of a temple Plaster cast of a victim from Pompeii

So what can you do in Pompeii? Basically walk around the place and look at the amazing ruins and buildings, some of the notable sights are the amphitheatres, the house of the Faun, the garden of fugitives, the temple of Apollo and the Forum. There are also some fascinating casts of people in their final poses.

Plaster was used to fill voids where human remains were between the layers of ash - once the plaster solidified and the ash was removed, a perfect cast of the human remained giving a chilling look at how they met there fate.

Although the casts might be seen as slightly morbid, and macabre, I found them simply captivating, to think that this was the actual pose that someone died in, nearly 2000 years ago is just extraordinary. Below is a list of important points to remember when visiting Pompeii:

  • Make sure you have some water: it gets very hot and dry.
  • Wear comfortable shoes as the streets are uneven and cobbled.
  • Buy a map! It's a large site and we got lost easily.
  • Allow enough time to explore properly (Half a day minimum).

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Pompeii, it was interesting, and I believe people that are not even that interested in history would still have a great time there. If you are in the area or stopping at Naples or Sorrento it is definitely worth a visit - There is also the nearby site of Herculaneum which also got decimated during the eruption of Vesuvius.

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