Pompeii stands on a plateau 30 meters above sea level and at a short distance from the mouth of the Sarno river. The fortune of the city was in fact linked to its position next to the sea, that made it a port for every centre of the Campania hinterland, in competition with the Greek cities of the coast.
Its history is characterised by transitions from the Greek hegemony to the Etruscans one, and from the descent of the Samnites that during the 5th century B.C conquered the whole Campania, causing significant urban and architectural transformations. In the 2nd century BC, with the domination of Rome over the Mediterranean that facilitated the circulation of generald goods, the city experienced a period of great economical growth, especially for the production and export of wine and oil, influencing factos for the development of private and public construction. During the imperial age, new Pro-Augustan families settled in Pompeii; then, in 62 A.D, a disastrous earthquake caused serious damage and the following period saw the inhabitants involved in a considerable reconstruction work, which was still underway during the eruption of Vesuvius on the 24th of August 79 A.D. At that time, Pompeii extended for more then 64 hectares (the excavated area of ancient Pompeii, UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997, is over 44 hectaress), and had twenty thousand inhabitants. The planimetry of the city came somehow from the Greek architect and urban planner Hippodamus of Miletus. Although it doesn't match the strict right angle arrangement, and the blocks do not have the constant dimensions that were the "signature" of the architect Hippodamus, it is possible to confirm that Pompeii was the first example of systematic urban planning in Italy.
The information provided to visitors of the the revealed city relies on many comparative aspects. Among these, the relative width of the streets: from slightly less than two and a half to four and a half meters, and the widest of all measured just over seven meters. On the sides of the main ones there were the footpaths and large stones were placed between them so that pedestrians could pass. Another evident characteristic, at the intersections, are the fountains with sculpted stones surmounting a rectangular stone basin: they were fed by lead pipes connected to big cisterns fed by the aqueduct which started from Serino. The walls, then, represent one of the most important fortification systems of the pre-Roman Italic cities which came down to us. In them we can notice not less than four construction phases. During the 2nd century B.C, the defenses were strengthened and eventually, around year 100, twelve towers were added. Pompeii had seven gates, five of which communicated with important external roads. Immediately outside the walls, large areas extended mainly used as cemeteries, due to the fact that burials and cremations were forbidden within the city. The relations between the living and the dead were, however, very intimate; some of the large tombs had a dining room and even a kitchen for the annual banquets provided for in the wills of those buried there.
At this point, a very rapid excursus is required among some of the most famous archaeological emergencies. The Suburban Baths are one of the points of reference in the visit of the excavations. The rooms on the ground floor show valuable decorations, between the hot pool and the cold pool, with painted walls. There was also a cascade of water from a fake cave adorned with a mosaic representing Mars and cupids. In the area of the Forum there is the monumental Basilica, where justice was administrated and business was done. To the North, there is the Temple of Apollo, undoubtedly the most important and very ancient religious building; then, the Temple of Jupiter where, according to researchers, Juno and Minerva were venerated, since year 80 BC, so as to become the Capitololium of the Roman city, worship centre of the triad symbol of the imperial power. The Via dei Sepolcri, to which you can access by Porta Ercolano, allows to reach the large Villa of Diomede and, further on, you reach the famous Casa degli Amorini Dorati (House of the Golden Cupids). Cherubs on gold leaf embellished part of the interior) owned by Poppaeus Habitus, a relative of Nero’s second wife, and characterised by a particular peristyle with a garden on which the rooms overlook. The "Lupanare"(brothel) is also a famous stop of the tour among the excavations. It is one of the many brothels of the ancient Pompeii - certainly the most important because it was specifically built. Obviously, the paths follow each other are with great splendour and with the professional help of an expert guide, you can grasp the fascination of this unique place in the world.