by Chloe Hay
Mount Vesuvius continues to grin threateningly over the dilapidated Italian city of Pompeii. The eruption of this volcano in AD 79 buried the entire city under a rain of ash and cinders over a two day period. Then neglected for centuries, it wasn’t until 1748 that proper excavations began and they have continued ever since.
Just a short train ride from Rome and an even shorter one from Naples, Pompeii is a hugely popular tourist destination and makes the perfect day trip for anyone with even the slightest interest in history. A one day ticket to this UNESCO World Heritage Site costs just €11. Explanatory signs are scarce once inside the site so you are encouraged to purchase a guide before entering, which will help you decipher the different
buildings and areas. There is also no shop and Pompeii can get wickedly hot, so be sure to buy plenty of refreshments before you go in (there is a café by the entrance where you can stock up).
Visiting Pompeii is the closest you will probably ever get to experiencing time travel. Excavators are doing all they can to unearth and preserve the city exactly as it was minutes before the fatal eruption began. A lot of work has been put into recovering the shapes of human bodies by pouring plaster into the imprints that were left after
their decomposition. By doing this and from the knowledge of where they were when they were buried, the excavators can work out exactly what these people were doing in their last moments.
To walk around this entombed and for so long forgotten city, surrounded by ruins of a once prosperous agricultural town and casts of the locals whose lives were stolen by the non-sparing volcano is something quite remarkable. Despite the constant stream of tourists there is an eerie feel to this city; almost as if its inhabitants are watching you traipse around their destroyed home.
Mount Vesuvius is currently dormant so you could easily combine your trip to Pompeii with a trip to the culprit itself. Buses leave daily from Naples and Pompeii taking you up to the parking lot from where you can either walk or mountain bike. On a clear day the view across Campania is stunning and you can see down into the crater that was created by its eruption.
Although Vesuvius has been calm since its last minor eruption in the 1950s, this is not to say that it will remain this way. This hot-headed volcano could bury Pompeii once again, which would be a travesty – especially if you are yet to explore it. Go now!