Visit Pompeii in the springtime and experience perfect daytime temperatures for your outdoor treks through the ruins of this ancient Italian city which was totally destroyed by the 79 A.D. eruption of nearby Mt. Vesuvius. In addition to the great springtime weather, you will avoid many of the other 2,499,999 people who annually explore the vestiges of this great archeological site which is still undergoing excavation.
The eruption of this volcano, approximately 150 miles south of Rome, was unexpected. It happened so suddenly, it literally stopped people in their tracks. The brick and mortar city did not burn but was buried under ash and pumice that suffocated almost all of the townspeople. The destruction was witnessed by Pliny the Younger, the nephew of the Roman statesman, Pliny the Elder, who died in the destruction. Even though Pliny the Younger wrote about the eruption that lasted for three days, the city remained buried for more than 1,700 years. In 1748, excavation began and continues to this day.
If you have heard that you can see casts of people who died in the eruption, with their terrified facial expressions preserved forever due to the layers of molten ash under which they were buried, you have heard correctly. People who were sitting at their tables eating were preserved where they sat as was their food. Their live pets were encased and now appear as though plaster casts. Some of these are on display in a museum at Pompeii itself. Other artifacts are about a half hour drive away in the Naples Archeological Museum.
To enjoy the highlights of this outdoor museum walk down the streets of Pompeii and pass bakeries where you can see the ovens that were used. You can sit at a bar in a restaurant where food vats are visible. Go inside former residences and bask in the history that encompasses every structure in this city. Step back in time and stroll in the gardens of once stately mansions that the aristocrats called home. View the frescoes on their walls and the fountains in their courtyards.
You can also sit in the Amphitheatre, built in about 80 B.C. to hold approximately 20,000 people. Or you can visit temples, baths, theaters, stores as well as homes. There is even a house that still bears a sign “cave canem.” Translated, it means “Beware of the dog.”