One day your doing business, later soaking at the public baths and finally heading home for dinner with the family. Then, suddenly, hell rains down from the sky and wipes out everything you know and and love. So it was in 79 A.D. when Vesuvius exploded and dropped over 75 feet of ash and pumice on Pompeii, the Roman coastal city of 11,000 inhabitants. But, it wasn't the immense deluge of ash that killed 2,000 people that day it was the “pyroclastic surge”–a 100-miles-per-hour surge of superheated poison gas and pulverized rock–poured down the side of the mountain and swallowed everything and everyone in its path.
After the eruption, some people drifted back to town in search of lost relatives or belongings, but there was not much left to find. Pompeii, along with the smaller neighboring towns of Stabiae and Herculaneum, was abandoned for centuries.
Now, thanks to remarkable archeological restoration work the ash over Pompeii as been removed and we have the finest look at first century life anywhere. We visited Pompeii recently with a guide and the ancient stones came alive. Here are some photos from that visit that show the streets, temple, forum and bath remains and the theater. The tilted head you see is an art installation and seems like it was created two millennium ago with the rest of the city. Don't visit southern Italy without seeing Pompeii.