Pompeii is so…. incredible. How can I believe that these are the same stones laid down more than 2,000 years ago? The same houses, the same room plans, the same columns lining the same forum?!

August 2, 79 AD

Highlights:

The Forum
A long, open space – the central spot for congregating tourists and a study in people watching more than anything. Surrounded by important buildings including the Temples of Jupiter and Apollo, a basilica and a market hall.

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The forum
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Broken columns near the forum

The Stabian Baths
The oldest baths in Pompeii, dating from the 2nd century BC. There were furnaces to provide heating for the rooms – the floor was supported by short brick pillars leaving an empty space for warm air to enter and circulate.

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Heating system at the Stabian Baths
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Frescoes at the Stabian Baths
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Passageway in the Stabian Baths
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Ceiling in the Stabian Baths

The House of the Faun
Named after the little bronze dancing faun in the atrium (though the original is kept in Naples), this was the largest and grandest villa in Pompeii. ‘Have’ means welcome. There are two porticoed gardens with Corinthian columns and floor mosaics.

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Entrance to House of the Faun – HAVE means welcome
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Entrance hall of the House of the Faun
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The atrium of the House of the Faun
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House of the Faun

The House of the Tragic Poet
Look for the original Cave Canem (Beware of the Dog) mosaic!

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House of the Tragic Poet

The Amphitheatre and the Great Palaestra
One of Italy’s oldest (from 80 BC) and best preserved though it is hardly used now. The Palaestra was a parade ground most often used as a sports area with a swimming pool in the centre.

Central Baths
Begun in 62 AD but never finished!

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Exterior of the Central Baths
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The unfinished Central Baths

Forum Granary
Artefacts are still stored here – amphorae, marble tables, columns and more. There are also plaster cast models of the petrified remains of victims of Vesuvius’s eruption.

The streets themselves
When I first saw the huge stones crossing the streets at intervals I thought how nice, grand stepping stones for getting across the road then I thought about what it was that needed to be stepped over…

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Stepping stones for crossing the street

So many random houses and shops to wander around
The House of the Ship Europa, the House of Casca Longus, the House of the Cithara player…

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Marble table in the house of Casca Longus

A Thermopolium is a snack bar with a bar counter into which were sunk the dolia (jars) with food to be eaten standing or sometimes in the semi-private back rooms.

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A Thermopolium with room for jars containing food

Entrance is €11 per adult and can be combined with other sites in the area such as Herculaneum. It can easily be reached on the Circumvesuviana train from Naples, Sorrento or Salerno.

Top Tips
The main sites are thronged with tourists so don’t be afraid to wander off and find some lesser known streets and abandoned villas to have to yourself for a little while.

Bring water and suncream – it gets so hot! And you walk much further than you think.

Guided tours are available but I think they are a waste. Pick up a free guidebook and map near the ticket sales booth (ask if you don’t see any) and create your own tour. Plus there are so many tours already in Pompeii that it is possible to linger inconspicuously around groups and listen for a few minutes before moving to the next group and doing the same…

Excavations are still taking place so some areas will be closed off. You will also see lots of scaffolding and metal and wooden bars holding up walls, pillars and door frames!

Though it has been a few weeks now since I was there, I still can’t believe that everything I saw in Pompeii is real…

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Just inside the Porta Marina gate
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