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The Ruins of Pompeii
The Ruins of Pompeii

Pompei is the most popular tourist attraction in Italy. Ever since Pliny the Younger wrote his moving letters to Tacitus describing the eruption of the Vesuvio that buried Pompei in 79 AD, the city has been the stuff of books, scholarly frivolous and perfect subject for the big screen. Much of the site, the richest insight into the daily life of the Romans, is open to the public and requires at least three or four hours to visit.


Founded in the 7th century BC by the Campanian Oscans on a prehistoric lava flow of Vesuvio, Pompei eventually fell to the Greeks and later, in the 5th century BC , came under the influence of the Samnites . It became a Roman colony in 80 BC and prospered as a major port and trading town, adorned with grand temples, villas and palaces, until it was devastated by an earthquake in 63 AD.

Pompei had been largely rebuilt when Vesuvio, overshadowing the town to the north, erupted in 79 AD and buried it under a layer of lapilli (burning fragments of pumice stone). Although the town was completely covered by the shower, only about 2000 of its 20.000 inhabitants are believed to have perished. Later, Emperor Titus considered rebuilding the city and the Roman Emperor Severus ( from 193-211) plundered a little, but Pompei gradually receded from the public eye. The Pompei area was wholly abandoned during the period of Saracen raids and its remains were further shaken by subsequent earthquakes. In 1594, the architect Domenico Fontana stumbled across the ruins during the construction of a canal.

Though the discovery was recorded, substantial excavation was not conducted until 1748, in the time of Charles of Bourbon, who was interested above all in retrieving items of value. Credit for most of the major discoveries belongs to Giuseppe Fiorelli, who worked under the auspices of the Italian government from 1860. Work continues, but most of the ancient city has been removed and taken to the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Napoli and other museums around the world. Pompei has suffered in recent decades from overtourism and underfunding and the deterioration is alarming. Archaeologists warn that many of its treasures are in grave danger of being lost forever. The inclusion of the site on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, in the late 1990’s, coincided with a new Italian law enabling Pompei to manage its own money and to strike sponsorship deals. It is hoped that private sector contributions will guarantee that Pompei is conserved properly – something that government funds alone cannot hope to do.

Via Santa Lucia, 15
CAP 80067 - Sorrento (Naples)
ITALY -P.Iva 04450101219

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