The history of Pompeii Italy is suspended animation encased in dust and ash. Panicking bodies lay strewn throughout excavated streets, dug from their blanket of dried lava and exposed to the sun. Meanwhile the killer volcano looms impassively in the background.

An exclusive resort town previous to the eruption of Vesuvius, the preservation of ancient Pompeii is a wonder to behold. All that is left are visions of lives cut short by the cruelty of nature. Historians suggest that warnings of the eruption were evident just before lava and pumice cut through Pompeii's streets, but the ruins hold few answers.

The eruption of Vesuvius and the resulting destruction of Pompeii Italy has enraptured visitors for years. The remains of this vivid and effusive city show a place of wealth and splendor. It is believed that a portion of the bodies buried here were citizens caught in nature's fury while collecting their fortunes before leaving. Elegant villas buried for centuries feature rich courtyards, damaged paintings and other demonstrations of past glories. Much of the artwork carved from the cinders of ancient Pompeii is vaguely pornographic - most famously the paintings found in the town's ancient bathhouse. The House of Mysteries, too, includes a wealth of erotic imagery, the walls decorated with life-size paintings of a young woman being inducted into a Bacchanalian cult, a sect whose popularity was peaking at the time.

The House of the Faun is a cavernous wonder and includes a replica of its bronze namesake in its cistern. The original is sequestered in the Naples Museum, as is the celebrated mosaic of Alexander the Great from the same house.

The eruption of Vesuvius was clearly a harrowing ordeal – since the dawn of time great cities have crumbled to the ground in torrents of death and destruction. But the gruesome legacy of Pompeii Italy is written plain by the overwhelming length of time in which its walls remained buried in gray ruin. The lands surrounding Rome at the time were no strangers to bloodshed and carnage, but excluding a cursory dig into the city just afterwards, ancient Pompeii laid twisted and forgotten for centuries, as if the site was too painful to even attempt to comprehend.

Widespread excavations in the 18th century finally released ancient Pompeii from its dusty grave. Renovations continue to this day, striving to help visitors better understand an a long-forgotten way of life caught forever in swirls of dried lava.

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