Seeing as how the ancient city of Pompeii has been trapped forever in stasis, a perpetual midday in 79 AD that saw the brutal end of the town, the untrained archaeologist and/or sociologist in all of us is left to infer what city living in Pompeii was like before Vesuvius changed everything. What artifacts remain are largely architectural, or examples of Pompeii art that lay beneath the ash for over a thousand years, merely waiting to be seen by human eyes again. And much of the Pompeii frescoes and paintings do not disappoint, in fact they have helped the destroyed city become one of the top Italy attractions – along with a tempered view into everyday city living, Pompeii can show off its once ubiquitous art scene, with artistic renderings scrawled across every wall in the towering villas, the broken down theater, all the way down to the bathhouse and brothel.
Most accounts of the city’s residents place them as well-to-do, wealthy merchants, aristocrats mingling with travelers and vacationers from Rome. There were plenty of less affluent locals, too, along with a number of slaves before the city disappeared. The sights were (and are) one of the main selling points, not the least of which undoubtedly was the daunting volcano that cast its shadow across the city. Much of city life in Pompeii revolved around the bar/restaurant and the market that was located in the forum, near the temples and central theater. The houses of the city ran from the pedestrian, modest homes of the lower classes to the sprawling villas that are featured on a tour of the ruins of Pompeii, and are the highlight of these Italy attractions.
The interiors of these famed houses, like the House of Mysteries and House of the Fawn are where you’ll get some of the best examples of remaining Pompeii art. The colorful (and often times erotic) imagery in the Pompeii frescoes are the images that the world is now left with. Whether it is a young girl being inducted into a Bacchanalian cult, or myriad pictures of the god Priapus in various states of undress, the Pompeii frescoes were once considered so lewd that the King of Naples instituted an age limit upon those who could view the excavations when they were discovered in the early 1800s. But clearly this erotic Pompeii art once coexisted peacefully with religion – the basilica walls were littered with graffiti that you would normally associate with bathroom stalls, including advertisements for the various brothels in the city. It’s certainly not the same kind of thing that you’ll find in the other churches that make up the most popular Italy attractions.