Visiting Pompeii was something on my bucket list for years. It was the number one thing I wanted to do visiting Rome and I couldn’t wait to see it. I read every website I could about its history, watched documentaries and movies and read blog posts…I wouldn’t say obsessed but I wanted to be…prepared (that’s a better word, don’t you agree?).
Since I wasn’t renting a vehicle during my trip, I booked a tour through Walks of Italy. I’d researched a lot of different tour options but liked the idea that this was a smaller guided tour.
Pulling up to the ruins of Pompeii – I was glad I wasn’t on one of the larger buses but I was also disappointed that I didn’t come alone either (renting a vehicle for the day or taking the train from Rome to Naples and then cab to Pompeii). Before you head through the gates, you’ll see a little marketplace where you can buy trinkets, souvenirs and refreshing gelato. I’ll be honest – I wasn’t expecting to see the little market stands, nor was I expecting the ruins to be so close to Naples.
Once upon a time I wanted to be an archaeologist. I loved history and wanted to discover everything I could about how people used to live. I find it fascinating, to think about what it took to survive, the strength of women, mothers, families…
Walking through Pompeii, I was in awe. I took a million photos (well, maybe not quite a million but certainly a lot of photos) of everything I saw…from layouts of the houses, the market street we walked through, the culverts in the streets…while the tour guide talked, I day dreamed…I pictured children running through the streets, zig-zagging their way the the crowds as they ran from one location to the other. I imagined myself at the ‘spa’, cleansing my body from the day, sitting there with other women as we gossiped about our lives.
And then my heart broke.
I’d heard about the plaster casts of the victims of Pompeii, has seen photos of them but I was unprepared for seeing them in person. They were no longer images. No longer a thought of something I’d see one day. These plaster casts were real. Real people. A small child lying in the street. A dog – someone’s possible pet. A mother. A father. If I’d been born back then and lived in this city…that could have been me.
Pompeii stopped being a tourist attraction for me in that moment, an item on my bucket list that I couldn’t wait to visit and it became a part of history…something real and tangible.
They day I experienced Pompeii was hot. In order to remain ahead of the large tour buses that arrived shortly after we did, our tour guide tried to rush us through the grounds (while making our time there memorable and full of information). I wish I could have lingered, walked through the streets on my own, listened to the history through a recording, followed the map so I could explore more despite the heat.
When you walk through Pompeii…soak it all in. Remember that this isn’t just a stage, a place to visit on the map, but rather a walk through history. Think about those that used to live here, the families, the children…make these people real in your mind.
Enjoy your time in Pompeii. Grab a gelato afterwards, enjoy a limoncello and take a lot of photos. Soak it in and make the decision to come back to visit. I know I will. Once was not enough.
My Favorite Photos of Pompeii: