Is a visit to Pompeii worth your time (not to mention all the energy it takes dealing with the Neopolitans, mama mia…)? If you are in the area, I’d say yes. To say you’ve been there. To see for yourself what you’ve been hearing about since childhood or for a bucket list check-off. But only for two hours, tops.
Are you not already in Naples, full of pizza with nothing left to do? Skip it. Even for a colossal history nerd such as myself, it was dismally anticlimactic. Trust me, I understand the significance of this site and I’m not belittling it in any way. I’m belittling all of your grand expectations. Lies!
So rather than spend longer on a post about Pompeii than you actually need to spend in Pompeii*, I’ve put together this photo essay for you fine readers. I’ve left out the remaining 94% of photos I took that all look just like these. Consider this your photographic Pompeii CliffsNotes.
*Plus, I finally get to use the Herculanum font! #bloggerwin
Pompeii was… neat… but if you’ve seen one city of ancient ruins, you’ve seen them all. And since you’re in Italy, you know these are a dime a dozen. The only difference here being the body casts and the fact that this catastrophic historical event took place on my wedding anniversary, but ya know, like way earlier. I would rather just read a book on Pompeii’s history and look at pictures than walk through that labyrinth again. I did learn a lot of interesting tidbits, but after a while everything begins to look exactly. the. same. And that “while” is about six minutes after you enter.
The Pompeii complex is HUGE (Damn you, Donald Trump. I can no longer read that word in a normal voice!) and you could easily spend a couple of days seeing all of it. But really? Italy has so much more to offer and time is of the essence! I believe I saw the highlights – a theater, a brothel, a body, and a penis on the sidewalk – so I’m satisfied.
I also got frighteningly lost. Like, RUNNING full speed through the maze searching for my tour group that was on their way out. AHH! What were they wearing? I don’t know! Where am I? OMG, they’re gonna leave without me. Are you in my group? Are you? Dammit! It’s really, really disorienting y’all.
Something I would definitely go back for, probably the only reason, and something I missed because I was playing the part of “responsible chaperone” to a group of high school art students at the time (I know, clearly a role I suck at), is to visit the penis museum. OK, officially it’s the Naples National Museum of Archeology, but tell me if I’m wrong. Definitely check out this article from the blog Hole in the Donut. But ya know what? Art students would totally get this.
As seen in the photo above, the stones in the streets allowed citizens to cross over the sewage and whatever else that was washing down the street like a stinky brown river.
Finally, what everyone came to see. I expected there to be just tons of bodies laying around. Again, lies! There’s this one. And another next to it, I think. And another one in the storehouse. Ta-da! Yes, the site and the history is quite remarkable, I agree. The hype? No.
I saw a Pompeii documentary on TV after I returned to America that blew my mind. This 60-minute show on the graffiti and bar rituals of Pompeii was more interesting than visiting the place myself. This was an actual historical documentary that I can’t remember the name of. I am explicitly not referring to the crap movie starring that guy from Game of Thrones and that other guy from 24. Yeah, don’t watch that.
Gazillions of original artifacts in the storehouse. Pots on pots on pots.
Which way to the brothel? Oh, the penis on the building points the way.
One of the original frescoes – a kind of “menu,” if you will.
Mt. Vesuvius just being all chill like nothing ever happened… La-dee-da, what volcano? Nothing to see here…
For my visit, I went on an organized tour with a guide however I think you can tour the complex independently. I’m not sure what this experience is like because I don’t remember seeing any informational placards and a lot of the areas are off-limits being that it’s still an operational archaeological site. Pompeii is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, but perhaps not for much longer because Italy. They just really need to get their stuff together. Good pizza though.
Have you visited Pompeii? Was it what you expected? More importantly, how lost did you get? Let me know below!
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