PompeiiMarch 25, 2017 in Italy
Camping Zeus was only a few hundred meters away from the entrance to Pompei ruins. The entrance ticket only entitled us to one entry, so with a picnic in our bag and camera in hand we headed in. The site was huge, but we took it one bit at a time, looking first at the covered baths whose walls depicted erotic art deemed unsuitable for children by the Vatican. We like to think of ourselves as quite liberal minded but in this case there may have been some justification, as even Will wouldd have classed it as pornography rather than erotic art!
There was a mixture of emotions looking round, in one sense it was amazing to see the remains of such a large Roman settlement (20,000 people) so well preserved. In another sense, the reason for this state of preservation is so tragic. Despite the majority of residents having been evacuated, it is thought that some 2000 people perished here when Mount Vesuvius erupted and covered the town back in 79AD.
Continuing further into the ruined city we saw room after ordinary room, helping to build up the impression of a functioning civilisation, an element that wasn't present at other Roman sites where the sole focus was on a large Amphitheatre or grand temple. Alongside the houses there was a basilica, a market place and several temples, their tall columns in various states of preservation. Large smooth dark cobblestones, sometimes interspersed with flecks of white marble, lined roads between the buildings. Will was particularly interested in the 'house of geometric mosaics' where the floor of each room displayed a different design. While the high walls often obscured any view beyond the city, the assembly areas frequently had a view of the still active Vesuvius volcano that wreaked such devastation.
At around midday we were on the lookout for somewhere to eat our picnic when Will partially lost vision in both eyes. He had experienced this nearly a year ago and it had been diagnosed as a TIA (mini stroke). It lasted for around 30 minutes and had returned to normal when the site doctor and nurse arrived to check his blood pressure and pulse. They advised we go to hospital and called an ambulance that arrived at the entrance. The paramedics checked his vitals but by this time the site doctor had left us. The crew asked whether he had been wearing a hat and had drunk water, both of which we confirmed, but because there were no lasting symptoms, they advised we return to the van and have something to eat in the shade. It was a good thing Will had his European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with him! We have been attempting to live healthier lives since last year's TIA but will redouble our efforts in light of today's sobering experience.Read more