A Day in Pompeii

posted in: Italy, UNESCO | 4

A few months back we spent a day in Pompeii, or the ruins of the ancient city buried by a volcanic eruption. Pompeii is a very well-known tourist spot, with many people taking time to visit from Rome or Naples. All in all, I must admit that unless you’re very into ancient ruins, visiting Pompeii and the Roman Forum (in Rome) in one trip is way more ruins than one can handle. Me, I wasn’t super excited to visit (I was also very sick that specific day), but I do admit I think I enjoyed it more than the Roman Forum.


Pompeii was a town buried under ash by an eruption of the nearby Mount Vesuvius around 79 AD. After it was excavated, it offered a very preserved and detailed view of what life was like during the Pax Romana, a period of relative peace in the Roman Empire that lasted about 200 years.

Even though Pompeii is the most famous, it is not the only ancient town that was decimated by the eruption. There are four others: Herculaneum, Oplontis, Stabiae, Boscoreale. Ticket prices range from a one day ticket to Pompeii or Herculaneum for 11€ to a ticket to all five sites for 20€. The UNESCO listing for Pompeii includes Herculaneum and Torre Anunziata, but Jaime and I decided to only visit Pompeii that weekend.

Here are some pictures from our day:

Picture of Pompeii
First look at Pompeii

One of the things visitors are usually most interested to see is the erotic art in Pompeii. In the baths, for instance, there was an entire room filled with art like these.

Picture of erotic art in Pompeii

Picture of erotic art in Pompeii

The forum is very much like the ones found in other ancient city ruins. Here you can see Mount Vesuvius in the background. Before going to Pompeii, I always thought it was right at the base of the volcano, but it turns out Vesuvius is not actually that close, further highlighting how catastrophic the eruption was. Interestingly, it is believed the volcano erupted just one day after Vulcanalia, a festival for the Roman god of fire. The second picture is of one of the areas right off the forum. I can’t remember the name, but I believe it is a temple.

Picture of the forum at Pompeii with Mount Vesuvius in the background.
The forum with Mount Vesuvius in the background.


Another very characteristic part about Pompeii is the human casts from the people of the city buried in ash. According to a study conducted in 2010, heat was the main cause of death, not suffocation from the ashes. The city and its people were covered in 25 meters deep in ash.

Pompeii-05 Pompeii-04

The House of the Faun is one of the wealthier houses in Pompeii. It has some pretty gardens and a mosaic on the floor showing a battle between Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia.

Picture of the Alexander Mosaic in the House of the Faun, in Pompeii
The Alexander Mosaic on the floor.

Finally, I don’t think we ever truly figured out what this was, but Jaime says that even the Pompeiians practiced recycling… If I’m right or wrong and anyone knows, feel free to clarify in the comments!

Picture of Pompeii

That’s all for my rather short post on the ancient city of Pompeii! If you’re looking for more posts on ancient ruins, be sure to check out:

Visiting the Colosseum & Roman Forum

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Blogger at My Napoleon Complex, wife, husky mom, and American Expat living in Rome, Italy.

4 Responses

  1. Christine Keane

    Wow, so much history… I’m totally fascinated! You always hear the story of Pompeii, so to see it in person would be amazing. And whoa, that erotic art, speechless ha!

  2. Learningescapes

    I never tire of visiting ruins and Pompei really is special! I love the art and the house of the Faun, thanks for the beautiful pictures! Marta

  3. Cindi

    Thank you for sharing. We are getting ready to go and want to hear of all the best places to visit. The photo of your “recycling” are actually toilets. They were built over troughs that lead out. Some may view that as a form of recycling.

  4. Marie

    I believe that what looks like recyling bins were the counter of a lunch place, a prandium. They cooked food in claypots that were attached in the stone/marble counter top (and presumably never washed out) and kept warm with a fire underneath. Almost everyone went out to eat in simple food establishments. Only rich people could afford kitchens and kitchen staff/slaves.