A day at Pompeii

For our visitor’s final day in Italy, we visited Pompeii, one of the three towns destroyed by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79 AD.  What sets Pompeii apart from other roman ruins is the fact that the eruption buried the town under 3 metres of ash thereby effectively freezing the town at a point in time.  This means that Pompeii is incredibly well preserved compared to most other roman ruins and walking around it today, it is easy to imagine the lives of those who lived there 2000 years ago.

I’ve been to Pompeii twice before so became our unofficial tour guide.  This meant trying to recall the various highlights of the city.  We got to see the central piazza, the houses, shops and taverns of the city.  We also saw the reflective white stones worked into the roads to show the road at night, the pedestrian crossings, the fountains and the occasional penis carving (a symbol of good luck and prosperity apparently).

There was one place I hadn’t visited before which was the Amphitheatre at Pompeii. It is the oldest surviving Roman Amphitheatre and was built around 70 BC. The current amphitheatre was the first to be built out of stone, previously, they had been built out of wood. The next Roman amphitheatre to be built from stone would be the Colosseum in Rome, almost a century later.

It is a design that is the basis of many modern stadiums and hasn’t been bettered for efficiency. For someone from Wellington it felt just like walking into a miniature Westpac Stadium with the curved concourse for spectator movement around the stadium and sporadic stairways for spectators to take their seats.

The amphitheatre has been used for many events, one of note was the 1971 concert by Pink Floyd – Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii.  Available on DVD apparently.

We also visited the outdoor theatres  – both grande and piccolo.  Like the amphitheatre these are still used today for performances, all part of a move to return life to Pompeii.