Hope lives in Pompeii, Italy
In the southern Italian region of Campania, the remnants of an ancient city yet stand. Withstanding the direct path of destruction during the tragic Mount Vesuvius eruption in 79AD, its ruins continue to provide us with insights into history, geology, and life under the Roman Republic.
Pompeii. From tourism, to movies, to ongoing research, how does the UNESCO World Heritage Site still intrigue us after all these centuries? This could be a convenient segue into a history lesson, but today’s musing sits under a different topic: hope.
Amidst the vast labyrinth of cobbled streets and cordoned-off buildings, there are signs of revitalization. All around the archaeological site, greenery has sprung up: botanists are cultivating indigenous plants from the city’s prosperous years in greenhouses and humble gardens; viticulturists are growing vineyards where they once flourished. Reconstruction has made it possible to stroll the promenades, enter the amphitheaters, and study wall paintings up close.
Outside the ancient city of Pompeii, the modern city of Pompei has evolved to support a tourism-based economy. Amidst the ruins and the volcanic ash, hope has steadily risen, propelling the city and its residents forward. And hope rises still. Despite constant reminders of the tragedy that killed over 11,000 of its people, and the ever-looming threat of an overdue eruption, the resilient city looks to the future with grand plans for both rebuilding and developing. With Pompei’s close proximity to Naples, one remains hopeful that its prosperity continues. Such prosperity is needed to race against time in the rapid deterioration of the now-exposed, heavily trafficked tourist and archeological destination.
Progress in ancient Pompeii’s restoration, documentation, and conservation may be slow, but it is progress nonetheless. And from what we’ve seen of modern-day Pompei, we can bet its people will rise to meet the challenge –regardless of magnitude– and display the fortitude required to make their city great again.