Ancient Pompeii sprawls in a decrepit heap at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, which erupted in AD 79, destroying the town. Buried by stones and ash, and it lay undiscovered until the 17th century. In 1748 excavation began, revealing a city frozen in time. All around, buildings have survived, often replete with paintings and sculpture. Graffiti is still on walls, streets are paved; the ghosts of that distant past are almost tangible on the site. Highlights of the Ancient town are:
House of Vettii: one of the Pompeii’s finest house. The Vettii were not aristocrats, but freedmen, firmer slaves, who had made a fortune through trade. It was a patrician villa of the wealthy merchants, Aulus Vettius Conviva and Aulus Vettius Restitutus, today partly reconstructed and with rooms decorated with frescos and sculpture.
House of the Faun is the famous villa of the wealthy patrician Casii. It is named after its bronze statuette. The mosaic battle of Alexander, in the Museo Archeologico of Naples, originated here.
Scarium of the Lares: facing the Forum, and by the temple of Vespasian, this building housed the statues of Pompeii’s guardian deities, the Lares Publici.
Macellum: Pompeii’s market place was an important focus for the commercial activity of the town.
Via dell’abbondanza: this was one of the original and most important roads through ancient Pompeii. Many inns lined the route.
Last days of Pompeii: used as a backdrop for an opera of the same name, his dramatic 19th century painting by Sanquirico shows the people of Pompeii fleeing as Mount Vesuvius erupt violently.
The western area of Pompeii contains impressive Roman ruins, some remarkably intact. Parts of eastern Pompeii still await excavation.
VESUVIUS AND THE NATIONAL PARK OF THE VESUVIO
Nearly 2000years after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the Roman towns in its shadow are still being released from the petrification that engulfed them. Both Pompeii and Stabiae (Castellamare di Stabia), to the southeast of Naples and the volcano, were suffocated by hot ash and volcanic pumice stone. The roof of the buildings collapsed under the weight of the volcanic detritus. Fabric, jewelers, food, tools and utensils were largely destroyed. To the west, Herculaneum (Ercolano) vanished under a sea of mud. A large number of its buildings have survived, their roofs intact, and many domestic items were preserved by the mud. In all, about 2000 Pompeiians perished although few, if any, of the residents of Herculaneum died.
In AD79 Pliny and Elder, the Roman soldier, writer and naturalist, was the commander of a fleet stationed off Misenum (Miseno, West of Naples) and observed the impending eruption from afar. He related the information to the nephew, Pliny the Younger. Eager to see this natural catastrophe closer to hand, Pliny the Elder proceeded to Stabiae, but was overcome by fumes and died. Pliny the Elder’s detailed account of the first hours of that eruption, described in letters from his nephew to Tacitus, has been referred to ever since by scientists. Much of our knowledge of the daily lives of the Ancient Romans derives from the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Most of the artifacts from them as well as Stabiae have been moved to the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, contributing to one of the World’s most outstanding and fascinating archeological collections. Mount Vesuvius has not erupted since 1944 and today interested visitors are quite safe to reach it.
The National Park of Vesuvio is incuded in the network of the Man and Biosphere of Unesco program.
We find different typology of animals and vegetables, which populate the Vesuvius and the Mount Somma (they have different characteristics). In the Park you can see around 140 kinds of birds, also amphibious and reptiles.
The mountainside are covered by orchards and vineyards, used for the typical products of Campania. Different pathways give you the chance to explore the Volcano. You can do it by car or , if you would like an itinerary more special, choose to visit it by bike or by foot. Enjoy the breathtaking view from the top of the Vesuvio, locally called il Gigante che Dorme ( the Sleeping Giant)
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We propose an excursion for cruisers that would like to spend some hours discovering Naples, Pompeii and its surroundings. When your cruise will stop, even for a day, don’t miss the chance to visit the main highlights!
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