On my Study Abroad in Italy, I was psyched with how many cities we got to visit: Venice, Padua, Verona, Milan, Ravenna, Florence, Bologna, Pisa, Rome, Pompeii. Most of these cities were on the regular itinerary, but a few (Bologna, Pisa, and Pompeii), I got to see as day trips by finding train tickets on our free days.

Of all of those day trips, I think our time in Pompeii might have been my favorite. I’ve been really captivated by Pompeii and the eruption of Mount Vesuvius since I was a kid. When I learned about it in middle school, the idea of a city frozen in time under a layer of ash seemed magical. A lot of my peers had similar experiences.

Finally getting to walk down the streets of the city was a dream come true. There really isn’t any place in the world like it, where you can be transported back to 79 AD. I got to see what their houses were like, their town square, even their crosswalks. I didn’t expect to see so many intricate mosaics in the houses–-all incredibly well preserved.

The highlight was definitely the preserved bodies, however. That’s always been the eeriest part–the corpses that have stayed in the same position since Mount Vesuvius erupted, under hardened ash. There were a couple around the town under glass cases. In the small onsite museum they had even more, including the cast of a young child and even a horse.

Overall I got exactly what I wanted out of the visit. It’s fantastic that, thanks to these free days, we were able to explore so much on my trip.