There’s nowhere on earth quite like Pompeii. Until somebody invents the time machine (and if they were going to, shouldn’t they have done it already?), Pompeii is about the closest thing we’ll ever get to being able to travel back in time to ancient Rome.
This city close to Naples in the south of Italy was buried by a volcanic eruption in 79 A.D. While it was a tragedy for those who lived there, it’s been a gift to archaeologists, who have been able to excavate this massive city and see a snapshot of what life was like almost 2,000 years ago.
If you’re interested in ancient history, you probably don’t need persuading to visit Pompeii. But if you’re not already sold on traveling to this unique place, let’s go over some of the reasons why Pompeii is well worth a visit. Drop off your bags at a Pompeii luggage storage, and you’ll soon learn why this place attracts millions of tourists every year.
1. See the Graffiti
Almost as soon as you arrive in Italy, you’ll see why street art is known by its Italian name throughout the world. Modern Italians love to indulge in a little graffiti now and then, and their Roman ancestors were no different.
Pompeii is filled with graffiti, and in many ways, this graffiti brings the past to life with far greater immediacy than exhibits in museums or chapters in books ever could. The graffiti of Pompeii brings to life the hopes, dreams, fears, and insults of the ancient residents, and you could easily spend a day wandering the excavated streets and looking for the most interesting examples.
Pompeii was buried during a local election, so a lot of the graffiti refers to campaign slogans. However, you’ll also find curses, insults, and even reviews of local prostitutes. You don’t get that in history class.
2. Learn About Roman Daily Life
Pompeii gives us an unparalleled insight into how the average person lived in ancient Rome. You can see how they furnished their homes, what kind of food they ate, and even get a sense of the jobs that many people did.
This is all information you can read about in books or see in movies, but when you’re standing in somebody’s house or looking at the artifacts they used in their everyday lives, it really brings history to life.
Plus, Pompeii isn’t just some musty old ruins. The city has been painstakingly excavated, and many of the buildings have been restored, so you can actually walk through them and imagine what it would have been like to live there.
3. Meet the Victims
When you visit Pompeii, you’re not just looking at buildings and ancient ruins. You’re also looking at the final resting place of many of the people who died when Vesuvius erupted.
The plaster casts made from the hollows in the volcanic ash where people died are some of the most haunting things you’ll ever see. They give a very real sense of the tragedy that unfolded here, and they really bring home the human cost of this natural disaster.
You can’t help but feel a sense of awe and respect when you see these casts, and they really make you appreciate how lucky we are to live in a time when we have warning systems and evacuation plans for volcanoes.
4. Visit some of the World’s Oldest Fast-Food Restaurants
Ancient Romans rarely cooked at home. Neither would you if you lived in a predominantly wooden house before fire extinguishers had been invented and before any fire departments existed.
Instead, the people of Pompeii and every other Roman city went to nearby businesses that operated in a very similar way to how fast food restaurants work today.
You would go in, order your food, and then take it to go. These businesses were called thermopolia, and many of them have been excavated in Pompeii. You can even see the counter where the food was served and the holes where jugs of wine were kept cool.
Of course, the food on offer wasn’t exactly gourmet fare. The menu consisted mostly of cheap, filling dishes like stew or fried dough. However, it’s still fascinating to see how these businesses operated, and it really gives you a sense of how similar our lives are to those of the ancient Romans.
5. Admire Lavish Roman Art
As with any city, Pompeii was home to many different classes of society. However, as a resort town, it had a larger-than-usual number of homes for the rich. And one way to show off your wealth in Roman times was to have your home decorated with the best mosaics and frescoes money could buy.
Pompeii is full of these lavish displays of wealth, and they really give you a sense of how the other half lived in Roman times. The mosaics are particularly impressive, and it’s amazing to think that some of them are over 2,000 years old.
6. Visit the Brothel
One of the most popular buildings in the ruins of Pompeii was probably one of the most popular buildings 2,000 years ago, too. The brothel was situated right in the center of town, and it was one of the largest buildings in Pompeii.
You can still see some of the frescoes that decorated the walls, including one that shows a woman performing a sex act on a man. This is definitely not something you’ll see every day, and it really gives you a sense of the raunchier side of Roman life.
Why not visit Pompeii?
History buffs will practically drool over the chance to step back in time at Pompeii. But even if you’re not an amateur historian, there are so many fascinating aspects of this Roman city that it’s well worth visiting.
You’ll learn more about Roman culture and society than you would from visiting hundreds of museums, and you may well come away with the sense that we’re not so different from the ancient Romans after all.