On Location: Pompei

By Sarah

Our grandparents live in Hawaii so Perrin and I have seen enough volcanoes and dried lava to be skeptical about the appeal of the 2,000 year old ruins of Pompei, a thriving Roman town that was buried under 13-19 feet of pumice and ash when Mt. Vesuvius exploded in 79 A.D. Since we were living in the Napoli region we decided to embrace history and check it out.

It was well worth a trip and the 11 euro entrance fee. We were amazed at how preserved the city was and how vividly you could see what life was like for Romans in the 1st century. You can easily spend a full day crawling through blasted doorways. I recommend the audio tour (6 euro) since there are no signs on any of the sculptures and the guide is a wealth of interesting information, from basic building facts to in-depth chapters on subjects like wool weavers and calendars. Here are just five reasons to visit Pompei.

1. You can eat lunch in a dining room from 79 A.D.
Ok, so we’re not sure if this was really socially acceptable or not. But to preserve some cash, Perrin and I brought lunch from home. Around noon we found an ancient ruined house with some shade and spread out our Tupperware in what was once the dining room. We were even joined by an adorable dog, who ate the pasta we shared like a true Italian. While we all refueled, about five tourist groups stopped to take our picture and look us up on the map. While they searched for our audioguide number we struck a number of mid-eating poses so we wouldn’t disappoint.

Just trying to blend in.

2. The brothels.
It is surely by some sort of divine intervention that lava filled every inch of the main town brothel but you can somehow still see Karma Sutra images — with creative recommendations for clients — painted perfectly above each room. A session with a prostitute here was the same price as “a glass of medium quality wine and went straight to the pimp” – according to my audio tour – and graffiti on the wall indicates rampant complaints of venereal disease. Not ideal conditions.

3. The Amphitheater: Home to Gladiators, trained lions and the 1971 Pink Floyd Concert
In the BC/early AD days, gladiators used clubs, chains, knives and even fingernails to fight each other to the death in the awe-inspiring amphitheater at the edge of the city walls. More recently, in 1971, Pink Floyd entertained guests at the theater with a concert that was turned into a film, Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii.

4. Roman history is our history
If you love the US (and you know I do) and history, you have felt a connection to the ideals, laws and government practices we adopted from the Romans. Julius Cesaer developed the first 365 ¼ day year lunar “calens” during the peak of the Roman Empire, placing the full moon at mid-month. And the local courts prosecuted offenders in evidence-based, debate-style court rooms. Ah, the origins of modern justice.

The Forum, where Justice was dispensed in the city of Pompei.

5. The whole site is a reminder that life is short
This seems like a debbie downer way to end my blog but as you wander through the ruins you are struck by the thought that the people of Pompei were unprepared for the fury of Vesuvius to take their home and their lives. The man below was unearthed in a crouched prayer position, next to his mules. I can only imagine his final thoughts but to me he is a vivid reminder to live life to the fullest every day.

The Mule Man


About sistersbailey

We are Perrin and Sarah Bailey, collectively known as “The Sisters Bailey”. The moniker was born out of a crazy weekend at the 2009 New Orleans Jazz Fest and it was the first time we had ever been referred to as one unit. We grew up in Alexandria, VA together and then separated for college - Perrin to The University of Pennsylvania and Sarah to Northwestern University – and somehow landed together in New York after graduation. It was in the midst of the hustle of Manhattan that we became friends for the first time in years. Somehow we landed jobs in the same industry - Sarah worked in marketing at HBO and Perrin managed creative digital promotions for her media agency’s main client, Disney - just three blocks from one another. One day we decided to leave our jobs, sell our belongings and travel abroad with a backpack and a collective savings of $10K. The stories of our continuing adventures and those of other fearless travelers are here to inspire you.
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