|Mt. Vesuvius looms behind the ruins of Pompeii|
|Photo: Artist's depiction of the eruption which |
buried Pompeii (from BBC's Pompeii: The Last Day).
The still active volcano, (last eruption was in 1944) eerily looms today in the background behind the once vibrant Roman city. The eruption, although a terrible disaster, also had a silver lining. It preserved the buildings, frescos painted on the walls, tools and even bodies frozen in time. Thus, giving the modern world a window into what ancient Roman life was like.
The buried city remained undiscovered in the ashen cloak until it was re-discovered in the 1600s. Excavations didn't begin until 1748. Approximately a third of the city still remains buried despite the hundreds of years of excavation work.
|Mt. St Helens 1980 eruption|
Source: Seattle P.I.
This eruption was the most deadly and economically destructive volcanic eruption in the history of the United States. Fifty-seven people were killed, 200 houses, 27 bridges, 15 miles (24 km) of railways and 185 miles (298 km) of highway were destroyed. 
FloJo remembers her aunt Callie sending her family a mason jar full of that volcanic ash, which she took to show and tell at school.
|Gladiator training grounds|
We entered through what used to be the gladiator training grounds and their barracks.
We started our exploration at the theatre. In true Roman form there were different pricing tiers. The white marble seats up close were the premium seats, there was a main section and like in our stadiums and theaters today, the cheap seats in the nosebleed section. The theatre was large enough to accommodate 5,000 guests.
We left the theatre and followed the city street that led to the main town square known as the Forum. The Forum was where the residents went to worship, do their shopping and socializing as well as where the government offices were located.
The city work crews would flood the streets each day with sea water to keep the city clean (we have to give the Pompeiians credit for this). Some clever engineer built three stepping stones across the street so towns people could cross the street without getting their sandal clad feet wet.
|Remains of the Temple of Jupiter|
|Bust of Jupiter|
|Temple of Vaspian|
The Temple of Vaspian has a white altar that remains and a raised pedestal behind it that probably would have housed a statue of the deity the temple was built for.
The Curia was Pompeii's city hall. It was built out of brick with a marble facade. As you face Vesuvius it's on the left side of the Forum. This is the building where elected representatives came to vote and conduct their political business.
|Wall with preserved frescoes of Pompeiian life|
Housed within the marketplace, lest those visiting forget the 2,000 citizens that died being buried under the ash, there are two glass cases holding the casts of two of those that perished that day. Although very creepy to look at, it's also a preservation miracle. A modern archaeologist detected hollow spaces underfoot created when victims' bodies decomposed. The archaeologist had the ingenious idea to fill the spaces with plaster and was able to create these molds of several Pompeiians who were buried in the ash that fateful day.
|Beautiful frescoes preserved in the baths|
|One of the bath tubs|
|Roman design that channeled water |
from condensation down the walls
|Caldron where water was heated|
Exiting the baths we crossed the street to what used to be Pompeii's version of McDonald's. Like today, many ancients preferred to dine out rather than cooking at home. Again, we had to admire the intelligence of these early business people knowing that once you hit the spa no one wants to go home and slave over a fire. What's left are long marble counters with holes in them that held pots full of their food products.
|Stick with your day job Ro|
We continued downhill to see Pompeii's largest home, the House of the Faun. You know every town has one of these homes that the residents just love to take a stroll by and dream about someday owning something similar. The home has a small bronze statue known as the Dancing Faun. The home itself is believed to have had approximately 27,000 square feet (an entire city block) with about 40 rooms. There are beautiful floor mosaics inside the home.
There were more than 40 bakeries in the city. We stumbled upon several of them as we meandered through the the various neighborhoods. One was a bakery and mill with a brick oven that was pretty much the same as our modern day pizza ovens.
We learned on Rick's audio commentary that the huge column stones were actually what they used to grind flour. The grain was put into the top and then mules or slaves would push wooden handles that were put in the holes in the side that turned the stones and ground the grain into flour.
|One of the local bars|
|Ro standing excitedly in the exit from the brothel|
The brothel itself consisted of a few tiny rooms that had very hard and uncomfortable looking beds made of stone in them. Perhaps the intent was so the customers didn't get too comfortable. In the first pass, we missed the naughty frescoes that were preserved on the walls and ceilings of the brothel. But, upon the second pass through Ro caught site of one of them. One more example of not much changing between then and now.
|The colorful walls of the brothel|
It was amazing how we literally stepped back to 79 AD and could easily envision what life must have been like back then. Surprisingly, these ancient lives didn't seem that different from ours, minus modern technology. Our visit to Pompeii provided us with an intimate connection with these Pompeiians who died during the eruption. The day trip from Rome is one we highly recommend as it provides a poignant link from past to present.
Live life with flavor and fun!
 Robert I., Topinka, Lyn and Swanson, Donald A. (1990). "Eruptions of Mount St. Helens: Past, Present, and Future". The Climactic Eruption of May 18, 1980. U.S. Geological Survey (Special Interest Publication). Retrieved December 5, 2010.(adapted public domain text)
 Wikipedia, Basilica, 1st paragraph, retrieved from here.