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Mt. Vesuvius ominously overlooks the remains of the  Forum at Pompeii


  In 79 A.D., Mt Vesuvius, (in the background of the photograph above) erupted with catastrophic force, generating a pyroclastic mix of hot gases and ash that flowed down the slope of the volcano and buried the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum.  The devastation was immediate and deadly, as the hot
ash and volcanic mud entombed and preserved many of the residents and most of the buildings, all of which disappeared beneath the deposits soon after the eruptions ceased.

At the time, Pompeii was home to over 10,000 and the violent eruption of Mt. Vesuvius was unexpected and tragic. Within minutes, the town was buried and  lost to history until rediscovered in the fifteenth century.  It was not until the 18th century that serious excavations were undertaken. Due to the moral attitudes of the time, many pieces of erotic art (which was common during the Roman Empire) were hidden, reburied, or, simply plastered over.  These works of art are now on display for adult visitors.

Touring the excavations at Pompeii can take many hours, if you desire to tour every element of the site. For many visitors, two to three  hours will allow you to cover the most important buildings.  See the website of the superintendant of Archaeology for Naples and Pompeii for information on visiting. 

Note that Pompeii may close during periods of intense rains, as the soil in the area is prone to collapsing when soaked.

It is easy to imagine a thriving city in Pompeii.  Buildings are marked by signs, helping you to navigate the area.



The interiors of many of the buildings are in surprisingly good condition.  Although many of the original decorations (statuary and frescoes) have been removed (for display at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples), there is still much to see at Pompeii.  The mosaic on the top-left has text indicating "beware of the dog" and is one of the most popular and photographed mosaics in the Pompeii ruins.  Many of the wall paintings (top-right) show the use of perspective and most are colorful and quite detailed.

The ash deposits from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius covered the town so rapidly that it perfectly preserved the town, its buildings and inhabitants as they were at the moment of the catastrophe .  Amphorae, pots, statues, art and human bodies were encapsulated and preserved.

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Pompeii and Amalfi Coast Small Group Day Trip from Rome

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The Lupanare  (Ways 12, 18), one of the most famous buildings in Pompeii, reopened in late 2006 after a year-long renovation.  The Lupanare (the Latin word "lupa"  translates as prostitute) was  the city's only purpose-built brothel.  The walls contain numerous erotic frescoes and the building is one of the most popular sites in Pompeii.




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