The Pompeii Experience30th June 2017
Italy’s appeal with its blue seas, stunning landscapes and Mediterranean lifestyle goes back a lot further than the first all-inclusive package holiday. Even in AD 79, the Romans recognised its allure, travelling to their holiday destinations of choice, Pompeii and Herculaneum. Like the modern tourist, the Romans created a resort to satisfy all their holiday pleasures and Pompeii was no different. The town set the standard for the modern seaside resort equipped with bars, restaurants, baths and even theatres and brothels, to entertain the passing traveller.
Today, set against the awe-inspiring silhouette of Vesuvius and the Mediterranean coastline, lays what looks like a 3D blueprint map of modern-day Naples. The haunting remains of an ancient Roman town, preserved right down to the streets, bedrooms, and bakers’ ovens, as if the residents have only just left.
So, with the World UNESCO heritage site on the bucket list of any intrepid historian or anyone with a thirst for discovery, let Andante Travels’ Pompeii Tour treat you to all the secrets behind the walls. We have the complete Pompeii experience: you’ll be looked after in an all-inclusive holiday led by one of our expert Guide Lecturers, ensuring you’ll get the most from Pompeii and the surrounding area.
The Pompeii Experience
To set the scene, our first stop is Paestum. Long before the Romans arrived in the area, it was a Greek city, used as a military post to defend against invaders from land and sea. Now it has some of the best-preserved temples in the Greek world with artefacts to discover in the afternoon at the Paestum Museum.
The Roman’s seized the area and the town started to produce wine and became a city where the Romans could live in luxury. Excavations of Pompeii started 1763 and are still ongoing to this day. Many of our guides have taken part in Pompeii’s excavations, so you’ll not only receive first-hand accounts but be granted exclusive access to villas under excavation and go behind the scenes of Pompeii.
The ruins of Pompeii have been preserved in amazing detail. The tour will take you into residents’ houses, where you can view the vivid frescoes on the dining room walls. But more than this, you’ll discover the hidden secrets from our guides, like how did such a delicate piece of art survive to be revealed today? It was, in fact, the conservators’ unusual use of amoxicillin, a type of penicillin, to preserve the natural pigments in the paintings.
As you delve deeper into the life & conservation of Pompeii, look out for the range of painting techniques - from ‘encaustic’ where inhabitants mixed paint with wax, to water-based paints and even the rare ‘Egyptian Blue’, the first synthetic colour.
From the exquisite details of the remains, your imagination will all too easily conjure up a bustling town, with the cries of market traders from the forum and cheers echoing from the amphitheatre. The town stands beautifully preserved with fountains in the street, worn where thousands of people have rested their hands to take a drink; the stepping stones and wheel ruts; the graffiti on house walls. While wandering through the town, see if you can pick out the 1000’s of etched or painted graffiti, not too dissimilar to modern day graffiti, with insults, poetry and political propaganda: “Marcellus loves Praestia and is not loved in return.” “Cornelius: go hang yourself.”
More poignant than the bare bones of Pompeii itself, we visit the National Archaeological Museum, packed with the best wall paintings & delicate artefacts of everyday life. Travelling north we have special access to the Piscina Mirabilis, the underground cistern supplying the whole of the Roman Amalfi coast with water.
We travel to Pompeii’s neighbouring towns, Stabiae and Herculaneum, which, were too, engulfed in the deadly eruption. Stabiae is home to Villa San Marco, one of the most opulent Villas along this coast. The next town in the line of fire was Herculaneum. Sitting to the west of Vesuvius, this town evaded the first phase of the eruption as the wind carried volcanic ash over Pompeii, trapping inhabitants in its collapsing buildings. The second phase sent pyroclastic surges down the volcano. These reached Herculaneum instantly killing the inhabitants hiding on the beach, while the cloud of hot gas and ash preserved structures, objects and victims in its path.
But no trip to Pompeii would be complete without a visit to the monster that created the sprawling and haunting remains: visit Vesuvius itself. The breath-taking views from the crater look down on the towns and out across the Bay of Naples leaving you in awe, as you take in the experience and wonder at its beauty and power.
If it were not for the eruption of Vesuvius which captured the surrounding towns and their unknowing residents in its final billowing cloud of fatal ash, then we would have never been left with the time capsule of a Roman town virtually brought to life as you wander the streets.
For more information on our tour of Pompeii, Herculaneum & Classical Campania, visit our highlights page. You’ll find a talk from Guide Lecturer, John Shepherd, first-hand reviews, and departures throughout 2017 & 2018. Visit Pompeii and let Andante Travels take you there.