In 79 AD, Mt. Vesuvius erupted, blanketing Pompeii, Herculaneum, and several other settlements in the area under 4-6m of ash and pumice.
Pompeii was then lost to time for 1700 years, protected from looters and the weather, until it was discovered perfectly preserved in the 18th century.
It’s now, of course, an incredibly popular tourist site, as it offers visitors to walk in the footsteps of the Romans. You can visit the Forum, which was the heart of public life in the city. You can also see temples, thermal baths and theatres. You can even step into restaurants and inns, and see graffiti scrawled by the Roman inhabitants.
You’ll see magnificent mosaics and paintings, as well as several sculptures. And you’ll be able to enter people’s houses, to see how they really lived, from the modest houses of workmen to the large, sumptuous villas of the city’s upper class.
Of course, all of this is unmissable for a classics or history group who want to discover what life was really like under the Romans.
And for geography groups, a visit to Pompeii will help them understand the destructive power of volcanoes. They’ll see how the eruption managed to bury not only Pompeii, but several other nearby settlements. And they’ll likely ask the question ‘why do people still live around here’?
Of course, the answer to that is the volcano. Or, more accurately, the positive effects of volcanoes. This is an area that boasts rich agriculture and is, as a consequence, famous for its produce and cuisine. And the same was true when the Romans conquered the area from the Greeks in 326 BC.
Today, around 3 million people live within 20 miles of Vesuvius’ crater, which last erupted in 1944. And around 600,000 live in what is known as the ‘red zone’, in homes that have been constructed with scant regard to planning restrictions, within 5 miles of the crater. Should the volcano erupt, these people would have little chance of survival.
But that zone offers better views across the bay, and so is attractive to tourists looking for a base from which to explore Pompeii, Herculaneum and modern-day Naples, meaning those with property here can make a good living from renting out rooms.
Plus, the tomatoes, citrus fruits and grapes grown here are considered some of the finest in Italy. So a good living can also be made from agriculture and viticulture. So, the threat of the Mt. Vesuvius erupting, which is a relatively rare event, could be outweighed by the benefits of living in the area.