Darlene Foster's Blog

Walking With The Dead Through the Ruins of Pompeii

Posted on: February 6, 2016

Walking through the unearthed remains of a once thriving city, I couldn’t help feeling ominous. People lived and worked in Pompeii until that fateful day, August 24, 79 AD, when Mount Vesuvius erupted, dumping twenty feet of ash on the city, completely burying it. The city lay undisturbed and hidden until  1748 when it was accidentally discovered and later excavated. Today it is a must see on most bucket lists and I am pleased to be able to check it off mine. I remember learning about this disaster in elementary school and imagining the terror of the inhabitants. The feeling was still with me as I peered into the well preserved homes with original mosaics, shops, temples and gardens of the ancient Romans. Here is some of what we saw.

Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius from the ship

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Original mosaic in a courtyard


Public water fountain

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Public water fountains



The forum

The forum

another mosaic

Another original mosaic

A bakery

A bakery


Mosaic and gardens of a wealthy homeowner

Mosaic and gardens of a wealthy home owner

Pompei, Italy

The Temple of Jupiter


The dancing Faun

During the excavation, plaster was used to fill in the voids in the ash layers that once held human bodies. This allowed people to see the exact position the person was in when he or she died. Some of these macabre plaster casts were on display and drove home the horror of the catastrophe.

Pompei, Italy

Holding up a pillar in Pompeii, Italy


Watching our steps as we traverse the uneven cobblestones

Walking along the old lumpy streets and dodging the many other onlookers was treacherous. One had to be careful, but I was pleased to be there, honouring the poor souls who lost their lives in one of the ancient world’s worst natural disasters.

I have since read the book, Pompeii, by Robert Harris. An excellent account of that fateful day from the point of view of an aquarius, someone who maintained the aqueducts. Having walked the streets, the book had special meaning to me.

Have you ever visited a place you had read about before? Did you feel the same when you actually saw it, as when you first learned about it?


75 Responses to "Walking With The Dead Through the Ruins of Pompeii"

Hope to get there soon. I recently heard that one-third of modern-day Naples is considered to be in the danger zone.

Yes, it could erupt again. I think they will recognize the warning signs this time. It is definitely worth a visit. They are unearthing more all the time.

I remember visiting Pompeii – some of the phallic images were embarrassing. :-/

Yes, there was that too. I guess it was a popular thing at the time. There was so much else to marvel at. I am so glad I had the opportunity to see it.

Me too – ancient relics of artistry!

Your pictures are wonderful. I feel like I was right there with you!

Thanks for visiting Marcia. So pleased you enjoyed the picture tour.

I’ve watched a few documentaries on Pompeii. It’s sad yet fascinating. I’d like to visit in the future and walk those cobblestone streets.

I have never read about a place and then visited it. Well, except for Oak Island. The mystery surrounding the money is more fascinating than standing in the grass and looking over the island with someone telling us what happened where. All the interesting stuff is underground where we can’t go.

You would appreciate Pompeii. Where is Oak Island and what is the story there?

Oak Island is in Nova Scotia–South Shore to be more exact. It is home to the Money Pit, one of the biggest mysteries in the world. There is a show on the History Channel at the moment–Curse of Oak Island–but a lot of it is just fake drama and chasing fake leads. I don’t want it.

Something very important was buried on Oak Island before the 1770s. People have been digging for it since the late 1700s. A once-popular notion was that it was Captain Kidd’s treasure. Some say it’s the home of the Holy Grail or Shakespeare’s manuscripts.

Whatever is down there, the builders created the most complicated ‘trap’ I’ve seen to hide it. Google Oak Island, and you’ll see what I mean. There are several books–both fiction and nonfiction–written about it. We on the East Coast grow up learning the mystery.

Thanks for the info on Oak Island. I will check it out. Sounds intriguing!

I just googled it and read Wiki about it. Very interesting indeed! 🙂 thanks for the info. 🙂

We saw a movie based on the last few days of Pompeii. Interesting but sad bit of history.

It is fascinating. The ash preserved everything so well, we can get a very good picture of life in the first century.

I had goosebumps reading this post. I’d love to visit there. Can you imagine how I will feel then? Stunning evidence of the past. 😀 ❤

You would definitely be in awe if you visited this place. A great way to feel part of the past.

What a sobering experience. That was 2,000 yrs ago. What a visit that must have been. I love your photographs of the remains of Pompeii.

I had read and seen a lot of photographs of Stonehenge. But, being there was an experience I will not forget. I was with a group of spiritual friends and we were given permission to walk inside among the stones after it was closed to tourists one late afternoon. I felt incredible energy there and found myself in meditation. Will never forget that experience. I found it fascinating how all the sacred sites were in alignment with each other.

You were fortunate indeed to be able to walk amongst the stones at Stonehenge. I have visited but from behind the ropes. I still felt the energy and awesomeness of the place. These ancient sites connect us to the past. Glad you enjoyed the photographs.

That is another place I would love to visit. I am sure you will never forget the energy. 🙂

Interesting cloud covering the top as seen from the ship. Those mosaics are beautiful. Hard to imagine they’ve survived so well for so long. The idea of the plaster casts is a bit creepy.

It was a cloudy day but didn´t rain until we got back on the bus. It added to the ambiance. The ash acted as a preservative enabling us to view these works of art 2000 years later. Quite amazing.

Thanks for taking me back in time in more ways than one. I visited Pompeii about 35 years ago in my backpack-through-Europe days. It looks like a lot more has been uncovered since then. It was fascinating and disturbing at the same time. I saw the bodies you reference. I guess the ash is what preserved the site so well. Quite an advanced civilization for the time. Would love to re-visit. Thanks for sharing!

Happy to take you back. Yes, they have uncovered a lot more of the city. We only saw a small portion as we only had one afternoon. So glad I got to see it.

Pompeii is on my bucket list too, Darlene: we have much in common. Visiting Schloss Neuschwanstein was a dream come true for me, as was Rome. So much to do, so little time…! Great photos!

You will love Pompeii. One trip at a time! We are lucky to be able to see as much as we have.

I would love to visit Pompeii. Enjoyed reading about your adventure there.

Glad you enjoyed the post. I am sure you will get to Pompeii one day and I know you will love it.

Okay, I have to go to Italy! The story of Pompeii is one I first learned of years ago when looking though a magnificent book my parents had about amazing destructive natural disasters. That story has always fascinated me. The one I most remember is an image of a servant holding a baby. The idea is that she probably was trying to shelter and save it for her wealthy masters. oh dear. That has stuck with me.

And, by the way, through your comment on my blog I now have the audible book Pompeii which I hope to listen to sometime in the next few months. Thanks, Darlene!

I am so pleased I re sparked your interest in this terrific event. I remember reading a story of a dog who tried to save its master, when I was quite young. It stuck with me too. Enjoy the audio book, I am sure you will like it.

Italy is mug
Favourite place to visit universe never been to Pompeii. Thanks for taking me there

I know. I followed your blog when you spent time in Florence. You must take a trip to Pompeii one day. In the meantime you can visit through me and my pictures.

Pompeii is a place I learned about in school and I thought it was fascinating too – great pictures Darlene!

It is more amazing than I ever imagined. Glad you liked the pictures.

I visited Pompeii as a day trip whilst on holiday in Sorrento it was an amazing experience…

I think everyone agrees it is an experience not to be missed. This was a side trip on our cruise last fall. XO

Weird, I was actually thinking about when we learned this in elementary just the other day. I vaguely remember it being difficult to grasp and now, I wonder if it would have been best left for a bit older grade.

The pictures are amazing. Glad you got to mark it off you bucket list!

Yes, it was difficult to imagine for an elementary grade student. I’m glad you liked the pictures. I was in awe, as you can imagine.

I visited Herculano with my sisters during a girls holiday to Rome and we also climbed the Vesuvius. Did you go up the volcano? I would have loved to visit Pompeii, but we did not have enough time. Your post took me there, great pictures and narrative. Thank you Darlene😀

Thanks for visiting my blog Gilda. This was a stop on a 7 day cruise so we did not have time to go up the mountain. It was a cloudy day too, threatening rain so Vesuvius wasn’t very visible from the site. My hubby did get a good pictures as we approached Naples by boat. I’m please you enjoyed the pictures and report.

Darlene so wonderful to revisit Pompeii through your eyes. I wanted to visit all my life but admit I was astounded at the masses of tourists and the seize of humanity on poor Pompeii.

It was incredibly crowded, but like my pictures, I was able to crop the masses out, in my mind. I did find the masses to be quiet and respectful of the lives that had been lost, and helpful to those of us having difficulty manoeuvring the terrain. I often lagged behind the group to get a picture of a scene without 21st century people in it. Oh to have the place to yourself. But then that might be scary!

I think it might be less scary without the masses than with! We really were caught with thousands of others.

Thanks for the great photos, I’ve been to Italy 3 times yet haven’t been to Pompeii yet. Next time! So many places disappoint after reading/hearing about them. Venice was like that; way too crowded and touristy for me. Stonehenge gave the opposite reaction. It blew me away at its spiritual mystical air that no book could describe.

Even though there were so many tourists in Pompeii, it still felt eerie, as if the eruption happened only a short while ago. I guess the sense of permanence was in the air. It did not disappoint.

That’s exactly the way it felt at Stonehenge! Whoever had been there…still were.

Thank you so much for sharing the photographs Darlene. I doubt I will ever visit in person, but I feel as though I’ve already been thanks to you.

Sometimes seeing these places through the eyes of another is all you need. So pleased you enjoyed travelling with me.

It’s been years since I’ve been to Pompeii and I’m sure much more has been uncovered since my visit. When I was there I tried to imagine how special the city must have been to those who lived there and tried not to dwell on its tragic ending but that was hard to do.

They keep uncovering more and more. I also tried to imagine the daily lives of the people who lived there.

Must be the power of words, Darlene. You mentioned ‘ominous’ at the beginning of this post and throughout I thought the pictures were covered with a sheen of grey ~ something moody still lingers in Pompeii. Thanks for sharing the pictures. It’s as if I’ve taken a tour with you!

Thanks Claudine. I am pleased I was able to evoke the feeling I had while there. Happy to have you join me on the tour!

I spotted your blog on Google+ while I was posting my own Sunday Evening Art Gallery. Your trip sounds amazing — you sound like a woman after my own heart. I think I’ll come follow you!

I am so pleased you found me. Thanks for following!!

I am planning to visit Pompeii this summer. Reading your experience gave me a lot of insight into my planning. I will start reading the book Pompeii for sure before my trip. Now, I am even more excited to visit this amazing place. I have always been fascinated about history and historical places. Your visit to Pompeii has so wonderfully written. Thanks

You will love Pompeii!! I´m so pleased you enjoyed my post on this amazing place to help you plan your trip. We went with a guide which is always a good idea. Be prepared, there will be a lot of other tourists.

I booked a tour specifically because it was stopping at Pompeii for the entire afternoon… others on the tour didn’t feel the same way and voted to move on to Sorrento for an early dinner!… Oh well, the perils of being on a tour… but I did enjoy the couple of hours we spent there… I thought next time I would definitely spend more time but as that probably won’t happen I’m happy I at least saw it! Enjoyed your photos.

I would have liked more time too but at least had about 3 hours. Barely scratched the surface but enjoyed what I saw. AS we got on the bus, the heaven´s opened and it poured down so it was good we left when we did. Thanks for visiting my blog!

I have to get the book since it is likely I will never get to visit. Loved living vacariously through yourphotos Darlene. Thanks so much for an interesting story. You never disappoint. 🙂

Thanks Clar! Glad you could visit via my post. The book is quite fascinating and gives a good picture of what life was like at that time. (it was not all good of course)

Thanks for sharing your visit to Pompeii. It was so pleasant to see it through your eyes, especially since I’ve never been there. 🙂

That’s the great thing about blogging. We can visit places through other bloggers. Thanks for visiting my blog!

[…] a year since we went on our wonderful Mediterranean cruise. I wrote about it here, here, here and here. I realize I had not written a post on our favourite stop, the historic country of Malta. We only […]

Your post brought back memories from our visit to Pompeii in December 2016. It was such a lovely experience for an ancient history lover like me.

I’m a big fan of the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett. When we were in Istanbul we went into the cisterns under the city like she wrote about and though we didn’t have a deadly adventure down there like in the book it was a memorable experience.

I’m glad this post brought back fond memories for you. I too love visiting places I had read about in a novel. Thanks for stopping in.

Pompeii wasn’t on my bucket list…until today. Thank you for sharing your amazing photos. I need to check out Robert Harris’ book.

It is certainly worth a visit. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

I really do need to go back one day as so much more has been unearthed since I visited. Although it was crowded with tourists it didn’t feel like it. People were really moved by the experience. Did you go to the top of Vesuvius? That was scary.
To answer your question about visiting a place I’ve read about. When I was in Rome I had a copy of Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons with me and could pinpoint where murders occurred!

What a great way to visit Rome! There has been a lot unearthed in Pompeii and we didn´t get to see everything but I was happy with what we saw. Yes. there were so many tourists but it was OK. I still managed to get pictures with no one blocking the view!

What a fascinating piece of history Darlene. Thanks for sharing it with us. 🙂 x

Glad you enjoyed it. It was awesome to be there.

I can only imagine! 🙂

How glad I am when finding this lovely post with stunning photos. It is gorgeous Place. It will be a part of my series of: Sorrento, Capri, Vesuvius and Pompeii. Two first I have already published. Next week Vesuvius and at the end of February Pompeii. My photos are from 2008. Well, people change, landscapes not. 🙂 Thank You.

Have a wonderful day!

I’m sure you found it as fascinating as I did. Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting.

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