Positano, Italy

  • Date
  • 7 November 1999

In 6th century BC Pompeii was a Greek commercial city. Then in the 1st century BC, Pompeii became a Roman colony – a summer retreat for the wealthy in need of a respite from Rome, which had a population of one million at this time. Pompeii had a permanent population of 20,000.

When Vesuvius erupted in AD 79 only three days passed before Pompeii was completely covered by ash. Not lava, but ash. The people who died did so from the volcano’s gaseous fumes. A guide at Pompeii told me the fumes took the lives within 30 minutes of the eruption.

The ash destroyed less in Pompeii than the lava did in Herculaneum (nearby destroyed city). Due to this, you can tour Pompeii and see the way the Romans lived 2000 years ago. They lived better than many do today in 1999. Pompeii had extraordinary Roman baths with tepid, hot and steam options for men and women (which even included hot air vents), temples, amphitheatres, squares and piazzas, sculptures, monuments, brothels and shops selling much wine, bread, food and supplies. The homes owned by the wealthy were extravagant and massive with fountains using underground water supplies, courtyards filled with bird baths and sculptures and wings for the servants. No windows were in any homes; instead they had openings in the center of major rooms, which allowed light inside. The reason for this was simple – the Pompeii people wanted home to be a refuge with no one able to look.