At Pompeii, you will first admire the city walls, dating back to the pre-roman city (4 Century BC). One of the best-preserved ancient gates is called Porta Marina, it connected Pompeii and its port, with a path for charts and one for people.
On the road
Once in town you will be walking on the original road made by basalt (volcanic rock) slabs, and you will notice on the ground hundreds of little white spots made of travertine which were used to reflect torchlight (this is what nowadays people call “cat’s eyes”).
Your attention will be caught by big blocks of basalt emerging from the road: they were stepping stones used by pedestrians to avoid getting wet when it rained; indeed, differently from other Roman towns, Pompeii didn’t have a complete sewer system because the city was built on top of a lava platform too hard to be worked.
The city center was called the Forum. It hosts all the buildings with a public function: Religion (the Temple of Apollo, the Capitolium and the Temple of the Emperor), Trade (the meat and fish market called Macellum, the textiles market headed by a priestess called Eumachia), Administration (the Basilica) and Politics (Comitium). Other facilities in the Forum where exchange offices, public restrooms and a public scale (tabula mensurae) where to compare and weigh farmer’s products. In the Forum you will also see a display of the famous human casts.
The Bath House
Close to the Forum, there were public thermal baths where both men and women (in different sections), poor and wealthy, free and slaves could access daily hygiene. Pompeii had 3 of such complexes in town plus 2 right outside the town, and they all had the following facilities: a changing room (apoditerium), a tepid room (tepidarium), a hot room (calidarium) and a Gym (Palestra).
You will notice several places fronting the road with large vases built in a masonry counter: this is what the Romans called popinae, today’s taverns! Those earthenware jars where filled up with food and beverages, and very many ancient Pompeians would stop in such places for lunch.
You will certainly recognize some of the bakeries of Pompeii, with their ovens and their millstones: several carbonized round loaves of bread have been found during the excavations. They are nowadays on exhibit at the Archaeological Museum of Naples together with more carbonized organics such as almonds, pine cones, figs, dates, etc…
Your visit would be incomplete without the red light district: the brothel (Lupanare) shows us today an interesting display of roman frescoes featuring several erotic images!
Do not miss the chance to discover Pompeii places for public performances: an outdoor theater (for comedy and tragedy), an indoor theater (Odeion, for mimes and declamation of poetry) and a big amphitheater (for games like gladiators or beast fights). You shall visit at least one of those places.
After the tour at Pompeii you could stop for a few minutes for a fresh-squeezed orange juice or to browse the souvenirs shops.
Fabrizio was spectacular. He was the perfect mix of history and humor. He managed to keep all 20 of us interested and engaged. He was fun and funny, as well as a fountain of knowledge about Pompeii. What a great experience it was!