Pompeii is more than a place. It’s a moment frozen in time. When you join us on a Pompeii tour, you’ll uncover truths about the Roman way of millennia ago. So why not include a Pompeii day trip from Rome when you’re on your Roman odyssey?
Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius
Pompeii was a once thriving, Roman seaside port town. It held a lot of power as a regional authority. Just 16 years before the notorious volcano of Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D, the town had been devastated by an earthquake. The citizens of Pompeii (approximately 20,000 people) had not yet completed rebuilding their town when the volcano struck.
The devastation wrought by Mount Vesuvius is plain to see, in fact many people started fleeing the town as the first signs of eruption became visible all those years ago. Sadly, the toxic lava spewing from the volcano still trapped close to 2,000 people in its deathly hold.
It’s the remains of these people, encased for eternity in ash and pumice stone, that you’ll see when you tour Pompeii. Nothing gives as vivid a picture of what life was like in a bustling Roman town as these body casts that are caught forever in their last acts.
Roman life in Pompeii
Along with the preserved remains of Pompeii citizens, you’ll also find evidence of their private and public lives. By the end of your tour, you’ll realize that the Romans of Pompeii were a sociable, outgoing and highly advanced crowd of people.
The Romans were fascinated with thermal spas. When you visit Pompeii, you’ll discover five big thermal baths that illustrate just how integral bathing culture was to Roman society at the time.
Baths during ancient Roman times were a lot more than just used as a place to cleanse. They were also places where social bonds were made and business deals were done. It’s estimated that each bath house in Pompeii could hold an astonishing 1,000 guests. That’s a lot of socializing!
J.K. Rowling may have captured the world’s imagination with Harry and his school of wizardry, but just think how much cooler a gladiator school from thousands of years ago is! And you can see one in Pompeii.
Recent restoration work to The Schola Armaturarum (the gladiator school) has been completed in Pompeii. Now you can walk in the footsteps of young, brave warriors as you explore where they were trained in gladiatorial arts and the arenas where they tested their skills.
Art of Pompeii
The Romans had developed a taste and appreciation for art. Their love for sculpture, paintings and architecture is evident as you walk through the streets of Pompeii. You’ll find the ruins of shops, temples, taverns, schools, public toilets, theaters and brothels. Make sure to look at the walls that are still standing. Here you’ll see mosaics and frescoes in an assortment of colors, decorated onto the plaster walls.
Many of the frescoes are still remarkably fresh, especially when you consider how old they are. The reason for this vibrancy is the artistic method the Romans developed as their love of art grew. Paints were mixed and a fresco scene was painted onto fresh plaster. The paint then mixed with the plaster to create durable scenes that have proven themselves to stand the test of time.
You’ll also find a lot of mosaics as you explore Pompeii. These were created using tiny glass beads or stones of different colors. Elaborate pictures were made up by artists. The most popular themes for a mosaic were wars where Roman armies emerged victorious, Roman myths, religion and sports.
Pizza in Pompeii
If all of this bathing, gladiator combat and artistic endeavor is making you wonder what Romans in Pompeii ate at the time to keep their energy levels up, we have the answer for you.
It’s clear from the ruins of the thermopolia, that have been found in Pompeii, that street food has been a big trend in Italy throughout the ages. The word “thermopolia”, translated literally, means “a place where something hot is sold.” Pizza was definitely on the menu. So too was salty fish, coarse, grainy bread, baked cheese, wine and lentils. In total, historians and archeologists have so far uncovered the ruins of about 150 thermopolia in Pompeii. There may still be more to be discovered, only time will tell.
What is clear is that the thermopolia played an important role in the life of Pompeii. Not only did these fast food restaurants of their time provide a tasty meal in a hurry, just like our equivalent ones today, but they also filled an important social welfare role in the town. Some of the poorer citizens of Pompeii couldn’t afford to add a kitchen to their home, and the thermopolia essentially became their first port of call when hunger came knocking.
The Garden of Fugitives
One of the most evocative scenes you’ll see while you’re in Pompeii is the 13 bodies caught in ash and pumice stone in the Garden of Fugitives. This scene quickly brings home to you just how deadly the volcanic eruption was for Pompeiians who hadn’t left the town.
The Garden of Fugitives holds the largest number of volcano victims in one place anywhere in Pompeii. Also known as the Orchard of Fugitives, this area was a vineyard during the years when Pompeii was a thriving town. Wealthier citizens would eat here during the summer months.
Pompeii of the ancient Romans
The ancient Romans left a visible footprint across the whole world, not just Italy. However, there’s no doubt that Pompeii is the best example we have today of just what life was like for Romans living nearly 2,000 years ago. Find out how you can visit the fascinating Ruined City and the still-active volcano that destroyed in with our Pompeii tours from Rome.