We had a guided tour with Vincencio (Vincent), who had been guiding for 40 years. He helped us understand the history of Pompeii through the examples of mortaring bricks, and even the way the roads were still in the state of being repaired by the Romans from a previous earthquake before Mt. Vesuvius erupted.
We saw the style of roads, and "cross walks" which were like stepping stones that people could use to cross a flooding road, while horses and wagons or carts could till pass. The repaired roads showed no signs of wagon/cart tracks, and were fairly level... the earthquake damaged roads were quite rough and showed earthquake damage (wavy).
Here are some pictures of the public forum, which really was just the center of the municipal government. With its "soap box" where people would speak. He explained how they learned so much about the city, by its "graffiti" which really means inscribed in the walls, not like today, painted on the walls...
There was one area of the city where there was an equivalent of today's graffiti... a politician's name, probably painted on during the night when the house owner was not able to stop the painting.
We walked along areas of where merchants lived and worked... the storefronts on the lower level, and their living quarters were the second story. The second stories of the buildings collapsed with the weight of over 27 feet of pumice ash. The storefronts were only about 12 - 15 feet square, small compared to what we are used to, but not a lot smaller than some of the shops even in the older areas of the cities we visited in Italy so far. Here is a picture of one of the many restaurant/food stands we saw:
We saw the public bath(s) - one for males, one for females, and a unisex one. The picture below is a steam bath... the cubby holes along the walls are like lockers to put your clothes in.
Some of the ceilings were decorated spectacularly!
Below you can see the grooves in the ceiling of a steam room, that would reduce the condensation.
Vincencio also explained about the two plaster cast bodies from the site. It was erie remembering what happened to this city that housed 20,000 people (not including visitors or sailors who where there at the time)
Also the brothel, where he described the reasons why there were such explicit frescos above the doors to the various rooms.... kinda the same reason we have menu signs at restaurants.... easier to choose what you want.
Onto the largest house in the excavation... With its entrance which is quite formidable, and its winter and summer living areas. In the foyer, there was a central "catch basin" which the skylight on the roof drained into... the catch basin emptied into a cistern, and supplied water for the house. Other houses did not have internal water, but relied on the public water fountains for their water, supplied by the river 20 miles away, and gravity fed.
In the picture below you can see the catch basin, and the front door of the house. In the corner was a stairwell for the servants quarters, and to the left were doors to bedrooms. The people in the corner are looking at the area that the household would have their favorite god/goddess displayed. Behind me was one of the largest dining rooms of the area.
I was kind of annoyed with myself... I did not charge my camera before going to Pompeii, and my battery died half way through... not a happy camper. I did get more pictures on my iphone, but did not get the ones I thought I did get on my camera before it died. At least by describing them I will remember them :-) Below is the summer time area of the house mentioned above. Around the garden are different alcoves with frescos and beautiful lapis adorned walls. Some are quite faded now though. Its amazing to think that all of this was built during Christ's time on earth. I think that was what impressed my mind the most when visiting this site.
We finished our trek through the site at the Theatre
It holds over 2000 people, and has even been used modernly for events. They haven't in recent years due to lack of funds, but if I knew about an event that was going to be there when I was nearby, I would be sorely tempted to attend - just even to experience the accoustics of the arena.
Just outside the theatre, there is a gymnastics area, where it ended up being like an intermission / entertainment area between long acts at the Theatre. You can just see the Theatre in the background.
As we finished our visit to Pompeii, we walked outside the city walls... this is a picture of it, and its dry moat.
We were so glad that we decided to go early (the gates open up at 8:30am, and we were one of the first groups inside). Over 6000 people visit DAILY.... and I can just imagine how crowded it could be in the heat of the day... not pleasant at all IMHO. It is worth getting a guide, who can provide all sorts of ancedotes that you may miss about certain areas. Pompeii is so huge, that we would not have been able to cover it ourselves in our short time period that we had allowed ourselves to see it. I would say that if you are in the area, it is a must see.