Pompei, excavated for about four fifths of its urban territory, is the most impressive and famous archaeological site in the world. The Roman center that you visit today is actually "son" of another, older, founded at the beginning of the sixth century B.C. by the Osci, Italian people who later overlapped the Samnites.
The eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. buried the city under a blanket of ash and lapilli 6/7 meters thick.
Most of the inhabitants fled from their homes and died on the coast. The few who remained, in the vain hope of saving themselves in the underground of the dwellings, died asphyxiated. The casts of their bodies in agony, obtained by pouring liquid chalk into the cavities left by the bodies in the ash layer, are a moving testimony to the tragedy.
Walking through the Pompeian excavations is a unique experience, like taking a journey through time: you can breathe the atmosphere of life in antiquity, public life, and especially private life. The most surprising aspect in fact is the high number of houses, luxurious or humble, preserved with all the equipment of shops, taverns, ovens. Even more impressive is the fact that many furnishings have remained intact, allowing us to penetrate the most intimate aspects of the life of the ancients.
The Forum was the political, administrative and commercial center of the city: a large rectangular square overlooked by the Capitolium (the temple dedicated to Jupiter), the Temple of Apollo, built around the third century a.c. and formed by a portico with 48 Ionic columns, and the Basilica, the most important public building, seat of the court and center of economic life.
On the Forum are also the Temple of Vespasian, dedicated to the imperial cult, the granaries where cereals were collected for sale, and the Macellum, the covered market of fresh food, with tabernae (ie shops) inside. Nearby are the Terme del Foro, divided into male and female section, with central heating in common.
The most important artery of the city was the Via dell'Abbondanza (the name is modern, like all those of Pompeii), overlooked by artisan workshops, taverns, inns, dry cleaners. On this road there are the Stabiane Baths, the oldest Pompeian baths. Nearby is the well-known lupanare, a two-storey building whose destination is revealed by explicit erotic paintings and graffiti. Among the houses, the Fauno’s house is the most beautiful for the elegance of its architecture and the famous mosaics that embellished it.
The house of the Vettii is famous for the beautiful frescoes that adorn the walls. From the house of Menandro comes a rich collection of silver furnishings of exceptional quality. One of the most important buildings of Pompeii is the Villa dei Misteri, famous especially for its paintings. The Forum is opposed to the theater district, the beating heart of Pompeian cultural and religious activities, built in the second century B.C. In the theater district have returned to light the Teatro Grande, where summer shows are organized, and the small Odeion. Nearby, the beautiful Temple of Isis. An epigraph shows that the Amphitheater, which housed games between gladiators and fights with animals, is the oldest of those we know. Next to the Amphitheatre is the Palestra Grande, built under Augustus and used for gymnastics.