Just a regular port town in ancient times, but a wonder for the modern world, Pompeii is immediately captivating, and especially photogenic on a crisp, clear day.
We spent the first couple of hours in a guided tour given by an archeologist, which gave good sense of the history of the town and excavations. It also ensured that Susan and the boys didn’t have to suffer through my pontificating attempts to dredge up facts from 25 (!!) years ago when I was here for a Latin class trip (benefits of a classical education, etc., etc.)
It turns out the site has changed quite a bit since I last visited, both for the better and worse. Sunlight and too many touchy-feely visitors have significantly degraded many of the wallpaintings, but better rainwater management and increased excavations and preservation mean that there’s even more available to see. Some of the buildings are only open one day a week, in order to limit the impact on fragile remains; since it was a Tuesday, into the Forum Baths we could go!
After the tour, we continued to just wander around, popping into shops and houses to see a bit of what Pompeiian life would have been like. With such a big site, even on a relatively busy day there were very few crowded areas (mostly the bathroom and restaurant, frankly).
There was certainly far more than we could cover, even after walking for 5 hours (bless those boys, ever game to hike through the ancient streets, and hop across the stepping stones). Hopefully it won’t be another quarter-century before we return!