The photos you see above are just a small fraction of what remains of the ancient city of Pompeii. Out of 9 quadrants, we had time to explore 3. The scope of this place is utterly mind blowing, and it's still not completely uncovered. Touring Pompeii was the very first stop in our last port on our fabulous Mediterranean cruise. We sailed into Naples and hopped aboard a van provided by the private tour company APTours and made our way out of Naples to enjoy a day exploring Pompeii, driving along the famed Amalfi Coast, lunching in Positano, and shopping in Sorrento. Even though we were exhausted from the 10 long days of cruising behind us, D and I were quite excited to see another beautiful part of Italy. Not to mention, our tour guide, Giuseppe (who greeted us decked out in a snazzy royal blue suit and loafers), was a total delight.
I won't bore you with the entire history of how this place came to be, but in a nutshell: Pompeii was an ancient Roman city that was completely destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The people and buildings of this thriving ancient metropolis were covered in up to 12 different layers (25 meters deep) of ash from the eruption, which rained down on them for 6 hours straight. It wasn't until 1599, over 1500 years later, that a piece of Pompeii was unearthed during a digging of an underground channel, but nothing ever came of the discovery. The first real excavations began in 1738 with the discovery of the Herculaneum. What's most interesting about the way this city was destroyed is that upon its continued unearthing, it is almost entirely intact. One of the most intact ancient city of its kind.
To be quite honest, I can't remember which gate we entered into Pompeii through. In fact, I really couldn't tell you the exact names of the remaining buildings we saw (except for the brothel, who could forget a brothel), but what I can tell you is that this place is a must see. The plaster casts of ancient Pompeians are simply bone-chilling. With Vesuvius looming over the city as constant reminder of its demise, an eerie dark feeling still lingers around its rock walls and cobblestones. I totally thought D and I would have been "ruined-out" after visiting Ephesus and Athens, but Pompeii has such a fascinating story and unique artifacts that it would have been a shame to miss out on experiencing it for ourselves. If you ever find yourself with a day to spare in Naples, make Pompeii the first attraction on your list.