Actually I was in Italy as a wine writer to judge a wine competition but once the tasting and winery touring ended I was on my own to become a tourist. In Rome I did the usual tourist thing with trips to The Forum, Colosseum, and the Vatican, and yes I took the 378 steps to the top of St. Peters to view the seven hills of the legendary city.
Another day at my hotel I signed up for an all day bus tour which would take me to Naples, Sorrento, and what I wanted to see most Pompeii. With a guide we visited the ancient city that was destroyed with almost its whole population on a single August day in 79 A.D. I took a good many photos and marveled on how, when the ash was removed, it displayed the life of that city. What impressed me in my visit was how old the city actually was before it was destroyed. This was revealed by the stone pavement of the streets that clearly showed the tracks of wheeled wagons worn into that stone.
So it was a given that when the California Science Museum opened its "Pompeii, The Exhibition" in May I must attend and view it. And what a wonderful experience this exhibition truly is. I believe I learned more about the history of the City, and the everyday life of its citizens from this exhibition than I did in my actual visit a decade before.
The Mount Vesuvius eruption that spewed searing hot ash not only obliterated the city, but preserved its people and treasures, freezing them in a volcanic time capsule. What has been revealed and is on display are wall-sized frescos, marble and bronze sculptures, jewelry, ancient Roman coins, and full body casts of the volcano’s victims.
The body casts of the victims on display are most poignant, a man with his head buried in ash, a pregnant woman sprawled on the ground, a teen age girl lying in repose.
Here are exhibits on the gods they worshiped, the kind of homes they lived in, what they ate and where they dined, as well as the bountiful riches of the region they lived in. A look at the cooking utensils of the time proved that in design they have not changed that much. The 20,000 residents of Pompeii loved fast food since some 300 food stalls have been revealed as well as street side bakeries.
There are also exhibits on the public baths and large frescos showing what they did for entertainment including gladiators and brothels.
One exhibit simulates the events as they occurred on the day of the disaster with earthquakes, explosions and finally the covering of ash and debris with video displays.
For more information about viewing Pompeii, The Exhibition at the California Science Center call 323 Science, on the web at www.californiasciencecenter.org. The Exhibition will be shown until January 4, 2015.
Graphic Design by Impact Graphics