Today was a long day at Pompeii. I had been to an exhibit in the science museum in my home town back in eighth grade that was designed specifically for Pompeii. It had replicas of casts found on site, information on the history of the city and the events leading up to the eruption of Vesuvius – so I knew quite a bit about how much ash had fallen. To see it in person, however, was remarkable, since the city was enormous and many square miles had been completlely uncovered from meters of ash.
I never knew, however, that there were multiple amphiteaters, though on a smaller scale than the Coliseum, of course, but one of them was still covered in overgrown grass on the stadium seats. It was a unique place in that it had been entirely kept secret from the world for centuries, whereas all other cities we had been to had kept living people on its surface for the past two thousand years.
There was one mosaic on the floor beneath an arched ceiling that caught my eye. It was about fifteen by twenty feet and taped off so poeple wouldn’t step on it. It was a graphic, very detailed depiction of a war. There was also a brothel was passed through; it was one of the more popular places for tourists to visit, however small. It showed one of the important aspects of the culture back in the first century.
After Pompeii, we rode the bus back to Paestum, which was only a little more than an hour, and stopped at the temples. There are three temples in Paestum, just a few minutes from our hotel. It is a less popular site, but I thought it was one of the best. There were remnants of the ancient city with stone blocks here and there; it was like Pompeii, but it hadn’t been preserved by ash. Instead, it was even more ruinous, except for the temples. They were each larger than I had expected; well-kept and devoid of ceilings, but the columns were massive and the rectangular interiors of each were enormous. It made sense that they had survived, honestly, since an earthquake would have done little to the heavy material. Two of the temples were dedicated to Hera, and the other, to Athena. All three temples were of Doric style, the same used on the lower columns for the Coliseum.
We had a little free time, and then our last group dinner. It was another wonderful Italian meal – meaning that it truly was native. The local specialty, however, the buffalo mozzarella, in the shape of eggs that spewed liquid milk upon cutting, were somewhat tasteless with a pleasant texture. Even so, I found the rest of the meal above my standards.