We weren’t quite sure what to expect, but Pompeii was much bigger than we'd expected. (I would advise (a) taking lots of water and (b) making sure you have VERY comfortable shoes – we were glad we did both.)
First of all we went through the Marina entrance and into the area with the basilica, the Forum and the temple of Apollo. This is the Forum, which was basically the law courts.
But the thing you’re really aware of is the looming presence of Vesuvius.
The architecture was stunning. In the second century BC, the Romans were able to build brick columns like this one. What incredible skill their builders had. (That’s the outer. As with all columns of this type, brick or stone, the core is rubble. Ditto the huge Norman pillars you see in English churches. Nerd alert over for now.)
Then we took a wander over to the House of the Tragic Poet (with the wonderful ‘cave canem’ mosaic – not a good pic because the sun was in the wrong position). There are lots of stray dogs in Pompeii (and Chloe wanted to take them all home); there’s a campaign for people to help adopt strays, and the mosaic is used as its symbol.
We noticed that the pavements are raised, and there are stepping-stones to cross the road. (I liked these very much, and we spent rather a lot of time crossing them.) You can also see the grooves from the wheels of long-gone carts that have worn away the paving stones on the road.
Then we visited the Forum Baths. The mosaics and frescoes can speak for themselves.
There are lots of little cauponae scattered around the town – basically these were bars where people would have a drink and buy snacks (which might be hot stew or a bowl of olives). The bars themselves were marble and utterly beautiful, and I rather fell for them.
Here we have a barmaid and her customer… (He said her prices were too steep and went to refill his water bottle from the free fountain in the street instead.)