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The city of Pompeii was a popular vacation destination for the Romans. It is estimated that between 10,000 and 20,000 people lived in the city. Many wealthy Romans had summer homes in Pompeii and would live there during the hot summer months.
Pompeii was a typical Roman city. On one side of the city was the forum. It was here that much of the business of the city was carried out. There were also temples to Venus, Jupiter, and Apollo near the forum. An aqueduct carried water into the city to be used in the public baths and fountains. The rich even had running water in their homes.
The people of Pompeii enjoyed their entertainment. There was a large amphitheater that could seat around 20,000 people for gladiator games. There were also a number of theatres for plays, religious celebrations, and musical concerts.
The days prior to the eruption were recorded by a Roman administrator named Pliny the Younger. Pliny wrote that there had been several earth tremors in the days leading up to the eruption, but Roman science didn't know that earthquakes could signal the start of a volcano erupting. Even when they first saw smoke rising from the top of the mountain, they were merely curious. They had no idea what was coming until it was too late.