“ City: Pompeii / Country: Italy / Country Region: Campania / World Region: Europe „
We went on a cruise for our honeymoon (I'm sure those of you that have read some of my other reviews are fed up of hearing this!), and were fortunate to be able to see some amazing places. I am slowly working my way through reviewing some of the places that we visited. Our cruise ship offered many different tours, or of course you were free to do as you liked in each of the places we docked. We decided to spend a little more than we would normally and opted to take tours at many of the places. We thought this would allow us to see the most in the limited time we had in each port as other than Rome (where my hubby has been once before several years ago) these were all new places to us.
The day we docked in Naples we opted to go on the 'Sorrento and Pompeii' tour which allowed for a few hours on our own in Sorrento before being taken to the historical site of Pompeii in the afternoon, complete with a guided tour (and of course travel to and from the ship and between Sorrento and Pompeii). This was a perfect tour for us as we still got to see Sorrento (where we nearly booked to go instead) and Pompeii.
=== Up Pompeii! ===
Pompeii is a place that I have heard a lot about since I was a kid. I have a fascination with history (always have done) and with volcanoes (probably initiated by a geography project I did in school that I enjoyed). I find it fascinating that the earth can be so beautiful, yet so deadly. From this interest I have read/watched several things about Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii before visiting the site.
A bit of background history just in case you don't share the same views of history as me! Pompeii was founded in approximately 7th century BC. At first glace, it's location perfect. A bit of height for protection, a river for transport. But as I'm sure you all know, located near an active volcano. In 79AD the volcano erupted, destroying the nearby city of Pompeii, which at the time had approximately 20,000 inhabitants. The city was frozen in time by the 20 meters of ash that fell. There is a lot of information on the eruption and the city widely available, so I'll keep the history brief and leave it at that.
=== Visiting Pompeii ===
As we visited Pompeii as part of a tour we were taken right to the main entrance by our coach driver. I believe though it is easy to reach by train as I did look in to this a little when we were first thinking of spending our honeymoon in nearby Sorrento.
Entrance fee was included in our tour price. Looking at the website though it would seem entrance is 11Euro for adults, and 5.50Euro for reduced rates (2013).
Around the entrance there are options to purchase audio tours, or hire a guide. There are also free maps available. The free maps are very helpful, and I would suggest with the map (and with a good travel guide if you want to know more) you would be fine without the need for any other sort of guide. This would also allow you to go around the city in your own time and at your own pace.
Something also worth mentioning here would be that a lot of walking is required, and on cobbled and uneven ground so ensure you are wearing appropriate footwear - I was wearing a pair of flip flops that I knew were comfy to walk in and these were okay for me. For us, waking wasn't a problem, but something to bear in mind if you have mobility issues or travelling with little ones. We did see a couple of buggies so I imagine it's do-able to take them, just very difficult. We were there in August, and it was definitely hot. I would ensure you have plenty of water to drink (though there is the odd water fountain or two if you need a top up) and wear a hat, sunglasses, and plenty of suncream.
=== The City ===
I'll try to not go in to too much detail as a lot of information about Pompeii is available online, but just to give you a brief overview:
The city of Pompeii is amazing to walk around. There really is so much to see and be fascinated by - especially if you're in to your history. You can see the amphitheater (and climb up the steps), there are shops, bars and houses all in varying degrees of derelict-ness. You can enter some of the buildings whereas others are blocked off by bars, but you can still see in to them. Even without any sort of guide you can tell the manor houses just by their decoration. The paintwork and mosaics are of outstanding quality even after the damage caused by the eruption.
As for the actual make up of the city itself it's hard to believe how old the city is. The engineering that went in to creating the city is phenomenal. The drainage and sewage systems, the streets, etc. really are fascinating. Something I found interesting was that on the min streets it is possible to see where the stones have been eroded by carts used prior to the eruption.
There is also a building where they are currently housing many clay pots, etc. and plaster castings of some of the people who were unfortunate to lose their lives during the eruption. You can't actually go in to this building, but you can see a lot through the bars.
=== Summary ===
Would I recommend going to see Pompeii? Definitely!
It might not be for you if you don't find history interesting, if you have mobility issues, or have really young children with you.
If you find history interesting I would totally recommend going. There is just so many fascinating things to see. I think I would recommend doing this without a guide, but with a good guidebook instead. That way you could see the things you want to most without being with a tour group. We did have a good guide with little audio things where we could hear her through her headphones, but I do feel I would have gotten more from the trip doing it by ourselves.
Don't underestimate how big the city actually is. We didn't get to see all of it, but we did get to see the main bits. Had I been doing it in my own time though I probably would have stopped at smaller things a lot more. We had about 3 and a half hours and it felt rushed. We did get to spend time in Sorrento in the morning though, which I also really enjoyed and am glad we did, only unfortunately this meant it cut into our Pompeii time. I would recommend you give yourselves at least 5 hours to get the most from your visit. The good thing about having a guide with us was that we got led to the main points of interest without getting lost. If you have time though getting lost and discovering new things is part of the fun.
A couple of final points: As with everywhere that is touristy prices for food and drink are expensive. We didn't need to eat here - we ate lunch in Sorrento - and we brought water with us which we could then fill up at the water fountains. It may be worth your while bringing a picnic if you plan to spend a long time here. There are also stalls outside the main entrance to the city selling various 'souvenirs' at ridiculous prices. If you wanted to buy something I'd suggest bartering, but we didn't buy anything. As with anywhere touristy - tourist spots are good places for pickpockets. If you have your wits about you you shouldn't have any issues. And last but not least, there are toilets available just outside the main entrance to the city (which are chargeable at 50cents).
The ruined Roman city of Pompeii is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Italy and it is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
I had wanted to visit Pompeii since I was a child and had watched a programme about it on television. The Roman Empire was always being mentioned in school history lessons and the culture seemed so advanced for the time that I had trouble believing that the Romans really lived such a civilised life-style many hundreds of years BC.
We arrived at Pompeii as part of a booked tour which was lucky as by 9 o'clock on that August morning there was already a long queue to buy tickets which we were luckily able to bypass. Just outside the ticket area there is a bustling street market with plenty of tourist stalls, ice-cream seller, a restaurant, a post office and restrooms. Ensure you have purchased water before you enter the site as the area is large and on a hot day you will need a drink and refreshments are not easily available.
Pompeii and its neighbouring town Herculaneum were buried in a thick layer of ash and pumice in August 79 AD after a huge eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Although Pompeii had an estimated population of 20,000 at the time the death toll or both towns was approximately 2000.
Pompeii was not a typical working Roman town, it was a rather elite city where the more wealthy Romans lived and worked and this is probably what makes it such an awe-inspiring spectacle today. Its rediscovery in the 1700s has provided us with a fascinating look at the luxurious way Romans were living over 2000 years ago when other cultures were still basically in the dark ages.
Pompeii is a huge site and in the 1960s a lot of the site was open to tourists but unfortunately only about a third of the excavated area is now open to visitors, this is said to be for conservation reasons.
Entry into the city was through tunnels in the wall and now, as tourists, we entered the same way. The walk to enter the city is extremely steep but it is worth the effort and once inside the walking is on much flatter ground.
The first thing we noticed as we entered the paved street was the white stones set into the cobbles, these were to assist people when it was dark as they catch the light more easily than the dark cobbles and allow people to make out the pavements slightly more easily. The pavements were raised quite a height above the roadway, this was so that even when it was very wet the pavements would not be under water as it would collect in the road, to cross the road there are large stepping stones set into the road to allow pedestrians to step across but they are a suitable distance apart to allow the cart wheels to pass either side of them. Pompeii was occupied for about 700-800 years and it is possible to see where the cart wheels have worn grooves in the road surface and on the busier streets these grooves are extremely noticeable.
The city is laid out in a grid-like pattern and now all the buildings have numbers which are cross-referenced in some of the guide books and the audio tours to help visitors work out where they are. At the junctions of the roads you find the water fountains and these all had different decorations to help people recognise where they were.
The shops are easy to spot as they all had sliding doors and the grooves can be seen across the stone step. The smaller shops were probably money exchanges but there are also several hundred bakeries, the one we saw still has the stones for grinding the flour and the ovens which look pretty much the same as a modern pizza oven.
The Roman baths have recently been re-opened and they were breath-taking. A gloomy corridor opens onto a garden area and then you proceed through a selection of rooms that would have been hot room, plunge pools, changing rooms and heat baths. Many of the decorations still remain mosaics, frescoes and ornate carvings.
It seems that a lot of the marble from the site was stripped out almost immediately, it was the intense heat that killed the inhabitants who hadn't fled and people were able to return to collect and loot city before it became completely hidden.
Unfortunately when we visited the Vettius house was closed and I had been looking forward to this part as the Frescoes are supposed to be magnificent but our Guide said they are doing restoration work. There was a collapse of the wall of the Gladiator school in 2010 and it seems that more work has been done since then as there were questions of neglect of the site.
The Food market (Macellum) was huge and the stalls would have been set around the outside. Now some frescoes can be seen but there are also some of the cast bodies that have been kept at the site. It is actually quite chilling to see the expressions that have been captured on the faces of the victims as they succumbed to the pyroclastic flow of superheated gases.
There are several houses open to the public. The houses consist of a small porch way that leads into an atrium which is open to the sky and decorated with mosaics and fountains, the size and lavishness obviously depending on the value of the house. There were larger rooms for eating and entertaining and then smaller rooms around the courtyard area for the family and their servants to sleep. In Roman families the servants lived with the family and if they were lucky enough they would inherit their masters wealth if he should die with no descendants. We saw houses of various sizes throughout Pompeii and there were many mosaics, one of the best preserved one being of a dog in an entry way.
I was amazed at how much of the site has been preserved and you can walk up the streets and truly imagine what it could have looked like before the disastrous eruption. This site could be explored for hours, there seemed to be something new around every corner, a statue of a god encouraging people to drink wine, a theatre, a phallic symbols engraved on a wall or a beautiful portico. Pompeii was everything I had hoped and more but my only disappointment was that virtually all of the artefacts have been taken to the Pompeii museum which is in Naples; it would be lovely to be able to look at the artefacts as part of a visit to the site or to have at least a good selection for visitors to admire.
I visited Pompeii several summers ago when I was traveling round some of the main cities in Italy. We stayed in Naples- the main place nearby.
Pompeii is a Roman city that was covered with lava during an eruption of the nearby Mt Vesuvius along with several other towns. Its destruction in this manner has led to it being incredibly well preserved-the volcanic ash and lava quite literally covered everything in its path in a very limited space of time. The Roman people had no time to escape so were covered by lava where they stood. As such it is acts as a snap shot of a moment in Roman life and gives fascinating insight into the everyday lives of the Roman people.
Pompeii is world famous and one of the best perserved Roman towns discovered to date. As such it is a major tourist attraction and it should be expected that especially during the summer season it will be busy. That said it is also relatively large and the majority of people seem to go round in guided groups. The only queue I came across was to go in the brothel!
The guided tours I have mentioned are a popular way to see Pompeii and this would be my recommendation. There are tours available in a range of languages. My family booked a tour in advance and we were in a group of about 10 people- just a nice size to be able to keep together as a group and be able to see everything as your guide is explaining. Although it is perfectly possible to look round Pompeii on your own, our guide was extremely knowledgeable and pointed out and explained the purpose of many things that might otherwise have been missed. The tour was well paced- taking a couple of hours and giving time to see everything, regularly stopping at particular places of note.
As a result of the remarkable way in which the town was preserved, many items are still in their original places. There are some particularly fine mosaics on the floors of some of the houses and seeing them in their original home rather than laid out in a museum gave them a context. Although many buildings are still standing- so you are quite literally walking the streets through a Roman town, you cannot enter most. There is one exception to this though which is the brothel. This is the best preserved building in Pompeii, complete with erotic Roman paintings on the walls. As I mentioned earlier this was the only queue and that was as a result of having to walk single file through the building. The images and nature of the building meant that some parents may not feel comfortable taking young children in there and our guide was quick to point out to the young family in our group a route which by passed the brothel without missing any of the tour.
Some items have necessarily been moved from where they were found and a selection can be seen in a shed like construction on the site. Of particular note here are the casts of several of the bodies that were found during the excavation. Other items are in the Naples museum- well worth an afternoon visit.
As can be expected from a Roman town, you are outside for the duration of the tour and there is little shade. a bottle of water should be treated as an essential to take with you as once inside the town there is no where to purchase any. I would also suggest the morning as the best time to visit-before the sun has reached its strongest.
Our tour also included lunch and this was provided in a restaurant just outside the site. The lunch was a basic mozzarella pizza but well made and tasty and I recall my dad commenting on the value for money the whole tour had been. Outside the site there are also kiosks selling ice cream and drinks and a small cafe as well as a souvenir shop.
I would recommend Pompeii as a must see place and worth making a visit to Naples to see. While there do be sure to take a trip to Mt Vesuvius. It is possible to walk up it and look down into the crater. This was also a popular attraction and the walk was not overly steep.
Although Pompeii is the most well known of the towns that was destroyed by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius, it is not the only one and I would like to give a short mention to another that we visited- Herculaneum. Also near to Naples, this town is more recently discovered but well excavated and open to tourists. Being less well known it is a lot quieter than Pompeii and we only knew about it after an archeologist friend recommended we visited it. It too is incredibly well preserved- even better so in some cases than Pompeii and the lower volume of tourists mean that more buildings are open for visitors to enter. Getting to it is more challenging- we took a local train and then walked from the station and you will be going round on your own with the help of a map with numbered buildings corresponding to numbers round the site. Having been to Pompeii though many building were similar and much was recognisable.
Both towns are defiantly well worth a visit although I would suggest going to Pompeii first to be able to fully appreciate Herculaneum.
Whilst on my honeymoon, (a cruise around the Med) we had a stop off for a couple of days in Naples. As my wife loves to plan trips she arranged for us to visit Pompeii. I must admit I was delighted, as strange as it may seem Volcano's, Earthquakes and natures natural events fascinate me. Pompeii its myths and legends have fascinated me since my childhood this way the perfect day trip for me!
Below are our thoughts on our day wonderful trip to Pomeii:
Pompeii is situated the Italian region of Campania, near Naples. Pompeii is the famous city that was destroyed by a the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Herculaneum, Pompeii's lesser famous sister city was also destroyed in the erruption. Pompeii is by far the more famous of the two cities, and generally people are only aware of the destruction of Pompeii.
To appreciate a visit to Pompeii I feel that a brief insight into its history is very important. This will allow you to guage the true catastrophy that befell Pompeii and it inhabitants.
The city was founded around the 7th-6th century BC it was an important port and was used primarily to forward goods to Rome or Southern Italy. This led to Pompeii's wealth, also its strategic importance in the area for these reasons Pompeii has been fought over and changed hands for many centuries. Eventually Pompeii was conquered by Rome in around 80 BC it remained under Roman control until the erruption.
The erruption lasted for 2 days, the city of Pompeii was completely buried under around 20 meters of pumice and ash.
Pompeii was rediscovered in 1748 by chance. From the subsequent excavations of Pompeii its clear that it was a prosperous city. Large parts of Pompeii are still buried so there is still more to learn about Pompeii, its history and its people.
Pompeii is located about 8 km (5 miles) away from Mount Vesuvius.
We docked in the the port of Naples, recently is more famous for La Cosa Nostra, The Mafia! So after having sent the wife to check the coast was clear I decided to disembark the cruise ship, her leading from the front of course!! Forward as one!!!
Naples is horrendous for traffic. Its possibly the worst place I have ever seen apart from Kabul! we literally walked for the best part of a mile to find a place to cross the main road which runs parallel to the port.
We decided to take the train to Pompeii. From the exit of the port to the train station is around a 30 min walk, you can get a taxi or a bus, but the weather was fine so off we went. Pompeii
Pictures of Pompeii
Mount Vesuvius very imposing in the background! ..is on the Circumvesuviana line running from Naples to Sorrento. The train is of course crowded as most people on the train are tourist and heading for Pompeii. Ticket prices are very reasonable a return is around Euro5 per person and the journey time is around thirty mins.
The station at Pompeii itself is very small but its very hard to miss your stop. The entrance to Pompeii is only a couple of minutes walk away from the train station however, in that couple of minutes you are bombarded by locals trying to sell you lots of tat to be honest. The only thing you should buy is the frozen bottled water. Temperatures in the summer regulary top 30 degrees. The water is a god send after a few hours walking. If you do decide to buy anything haggle! They make their prices up so haggle and get the best deal you can.
***There are facilities at the station to leave items that you do not wish to carry around Pompeii, this is advisable as you will spend all your time walking, but the main reason is to keep your valuable safe from pickpockets and thieves***
After braving the locals trying to sell me enough tat for a car boot sale we entered Pompeii through the city gate called "Porta Marina". The entrance as you would expect can be quite busy but generally the waiting time is short. The cost of admission was Euro10 for EU citizens. For Euro20 you can get a ticket which allows access to 5 sites in total, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae, Villa Poppaea and Oplontis. We just had the standard ticket for Pompeii.
Tour guides near the entrance will try and get you to hire them. I personally would advise against this. I believe that you will get more out of your trip by exploring Pompeii yourselves.
Get a map, Free maps and info booklets are given away at the entrance
Be prepared for a lot of walking. There is no sort of mechanical modes of transport in Pompeii so to get around Pompeii you have to use Shank's Pony (walking basically). The roads are difficult to say the least, they are un-even and basically cobblestones. Good quality footwear is a must as the roads do take it out on you feet. The area is hilly and in the height of summer it can be quite tiring, stick with it though its well worth it. You will need to watch your footing through! Its pretty dodgy.
Navigating around Pompeii is difficult but not impossible. The roads and alleyways criss cross the city. A map is a must as you dont want to ruin your visit by being lost and getting frustrated. Be aware that the city is a lot bigger than you probably imagine, allow a good 6 hours to see Pompeii, even then I am convinced you will not have seen the majority of it.
Once up the hilly part and actually into the city you can see the true splendor of Pompeii. Lavish buildings adorn the more affluent streets. Be aware that the pavements are considerably higher than we are used to, this was to allow waste and water to flow down the streets, there are huge stepping stones which were used to get from one side of the street to the to avoid stepping in all the waste!
There are many things to see in Pompeii, I will list below some of the main attractions, but I wil give my opinion on the actual buildings and sites we saw.
Not all of the buildings allow access, almost any time you visit some buildings will be closed for renovation. Also others are gated/barred from the public due to their contents. You can still look through the windows and see just what the building was like and used for.
A lot of the finer buildings still have original frescoes and mosaics, both on the walls and the floors. The detail and skill that went into producing these for decoration is astounding. It makes our laminate floor look decidedly more tacky than I already think it is!
There are all the amenities that you might expect to find on a modern high street today let alone almost 2000 years ago. There are the ruins of bakeries,bars, public baths. There are also the ruins of an Amphitheatre, Basilica (the law court and economic centre) and much more.
You can go into the vast majority of the buildings. Inside you can see and touch how it was done many hundreds of years ago, indeed somethings have changed very little over the centuries. The bakery has what we would recognise as a stone oven and the bars have stone counters. You can clearly see how they lived and worked.
One of the most interesting places for me was a building that is being used as a type to storage area for artifacts from Pompeii. There are hundreds of items from casts of people, pots even casts of animals. It really is surreal to see shelf upon shelf of these items. People litterally cast in the position they fell. You can not touch them as they are safely behind bars and a locked gate, then again I am not sure I would want to.
Pompeii's Amphitheatre of is the oldest surviving Roman amphitheatre. The Amphitheatre was the first built in stone by the Romans, previousAmphitheatre's were built from wood and as such have not survived. The Amphitheatre's is still used occasionally today, but for a completely different type of entertainment. It truely is a wonderful sight. Walking around it you get a true feel of its size and the noise that would have been generated by the crowds.
Many parts of Pompeii have not been uncovered, there is still much to see. From what I can gather local politics are stopping further excavation.
Hopefully someday they will uncover all of Pompeii. You can walk over the areas that are still buried.
Some of the main attractions
Main Entrance - Town walls, fortifications, gates
Forum - Market, shopping area
Forum Baths (Terme del Foro) - Health spa
House of Menander - Manor house
House of Pansa - Manor house
House of Sallust - Paintings, art collections
House of the Faun (Casa del Fauno) Manor house
House of the Gilded Cupids - Garden display
House of the Tragic Poet (Casa del Poeta tragico)
House of the Vettii
Necropolis - Cemetery
Painting of Venus
Stabian Baths (Terme Stabiana) - Health spa
Street of Tombs -Tombs, burial site
Villa of Diomedes-Manor house
Villa of the Mysteries (Villa dei Misteri)
Large Theater (Teatro Grande)
Little Theater (Teatro Piccolo)
There are many places to eat both inside and outside Pompeii. We actually had a packed lunch however there are:
The prices in the main are more expensive but this is to be expected in a tourist hotspot. I would advise if possible cater for yourselves.
We did not stay in any accommodation in the area however the following is available:
Hotel MaiuriIn (4 Star) a few minutes walk from the Pompeii excavations and the center of town.
Single Per Night Euro65
Double Per Night Euro 85
Train: The cost of the train depends on the day and time you use it but, generally its around Euro5.
Entrance: when we visited it was Euro10. I would imagine there has been a slight increase now. This is excellent value for money in my opinion. For Euro20 you can get a ticket which allows access to 5 sites in total, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae, Villa Poppaea and Oplontis. If you are in te area for a couple of days this is the option I would advise.
Guides: Not something we used but I believe that haggling is an option.
Autoguide (headphones) Around Euro6,50 or Euro10 for two.
Food/Drink: As expected the prices are inflated. I would advise if practicable for you to bring a packed lunch. Its cheaper and you can eat it on the go.
They made a great effort to cater for the needs of the tourist. They have provided excellent toilet facilities which are extremely clean. The is also a food court that whilst it is expensive it on par with the local facilities.
This site is not for people who have difficuly with walking or are wheel chair bound. Its just to ardous to get around. I would advise against taking small children and in particular children in prams.
There are tour guides provided but at quite a considerable cost. There is also an audio guide available for around Euro6,50 or Euro10 for two,. You will need to provide identification to secure the use.
Find out more at www.pompeiisites.org
There have been several TV dedicated to Pompeii and its fate, in particular the recent BBC programme. Whilst dramatic licence has been used to recreate events, people and buildings, it does not do justice to a visit to the real thing. My advice forget the programme just go and visit.
I strongly recommend that if you get the chance, visit Pompeii, you will not be dissapointed. From the moment you enter Pompeii to the moment you leave the atmosphere is palpable. Only when you visit can you really understand the scene, you can truely imagine the pain and anguish the citizens endured. Also teh size, wealth and infastrucrture of Pompeii. The buildings, frescoes, mosaics and artifacts are astounding. The scenery is in places quite breath taking, standing in Pompeii with Vesuvius is background is quite a sight.
The buildings, artifacts and how they have been preserved are a credit to the Italians. They clearly have respect for Pompeii and its inhabitants. Its like entering a time warp into another civilisation.
Ensure you have plenty of water.
Beware of Pickpockets
Good Walking Footwear
Camera is a must
Barter were possible
Allow 6 hrs for your visit
What's the worst that can happen if you put off for 4 decades something you really want to do? I waited forty years to visit Pompeii, a town I'd dreamed of since the stuffy Latin lessons I endured throughout senior school. The lessons were rarely illuminating but the vision of Pompeii, the lost town frozen in an instant of time, caught my imagination.
It wasn't until last October that I finally made the trip, mainly because my youngest daughter was now equally inspired thanks to the Cambridge Latin course and its hero, the Pompeii banker, Caecilius.
Thankfully I researched extensively beforehand: I discovered that to see anything like all that Pompeii has to offer, you need around 7 hours (not the two that most coach tours offer). I discovered a number of free guides online (in particular, Mary Beard's on www.telegraph.co.uk/travel) and I discovered that, if you want to see some of the greatest glories of Pompeii, the 'locked rooms' you must book in advance via the dedicated website www.arethusa.net. Of which, more later.
Then I waited to be disappointed - after all, could anything bear the anticipation of forty years?
Well, yes and no.
Pompeii is truly an historic glory, a 'must be visited once in a lifetime' type of place. Most surprising are the walls - it hadn't occurred to me that I'd never been anywhere of Roman origin where so many walls remain. And not only walls but beautiful, colourful and amazingly sophisticated wall paintings. Forget mosaics - the paintings are worth a visit in themselves.
Another surprise was underfoot; giant sized stepping stones in the road to avoid the rubbish that must have stunk in the heat of summer and flowed in the winter; palely glowing stones that acted as cats eyes; deep ruts that speak volumes about the amount of traffic and the general 'busyness' of the town.
And the other surprise is that, despite the destruction, despite the groups of tourists, you can still imagine how this town would have looked hours before it died in an explosion of lava 2000 years ago.
However, there are some drawbacks. Despite my research before arriving, the sheer size of the site is the biggest shock. Even at a brisk walking pace (I'm a four miles an hour person) it takes half an hour to walk from one side to the other. Now that won't be a problem if a) you have plenty of time b) the weather is cool and c) you don't worry about seeing inside locked buildings.
However, the reality is that most people leave far too little time to really appreciate everything Pompeii has to offer; we were there for 7 hours and still didn't see anything like all of it. Those who take a coach tour that allows just 2 hours on site are likely to be disappointed.
The second reality is that many people visit during the summer when the temperature is well into the 30s. Now, that was OK in Roman times when Pompeii's narrow streets were sheltered by the height of the buildings and the houses themselves were dark and cool. Visit now in July and August and you'll spend much of the time hastening from one square metre of shadow to the next. Far better to time your trip for spring or autumn if at all possible.
And thirdly, the problem of the locked houses. There are several buildings that, apparently because of particular merit, are opened only at specific times. If you want to see inside, you must book tickets in advance via the dedicated website www.arethusa.net. You choose a date and time of visit then print out the 'prenotazione' (pre-booking) ticket that they email to you. Unfortunately, the booking system is flawed. The names of houses in Pompeii has never been standardised - they were simply given an identifying name as they were discovered, so it can be difficult to marry the information on the arethusa website with a map of Pompeii. This means that working out how much time you'll have to get from one house to the next is virtually impossible - we missed one house simply because it would have taken too long to return to it. And we didn't get into the final house because, in classic Italian style, no one turned up to let us in. And when you are 30 minutes from the only visitor area, it hardly seems worth going back to find someone with a key.
The other potential problem with getting to Pompeii is just that, getting there. If, like us, you are in the area only to visit Pompeii, then it is easiest to stay in Naples. But if you don't speak Italian, it can be remarkably difficult to get any sense out of the locals. For the record, we flew into Naples from Stansted with Easyjet on a Friday evening flight. Our B&B had already booked a taxi for us so we were able to ignore the touts and within ten minutes were at our accommodation. Since we were so short of time, we stayed close to the railway station - the area is seedy but cheap and it took less than five minutes the following morning to walk to the train. The service from Naples to Pompeii Scavi is approx every 30 minutes but you're best trying to work out which train you want from the departures boards - we were sent from one train to another several times by 'helpful' Neapolitans who couldn't decide amongst themselves which we should catch! The excavations are just a couple of minutes walk from the station at the other end.
We flew out from Naples on the Sunday night. In real time, just 48 hours later - in our imaginations, though, we'd made a return trip lasting two millennia.
Travel back some 1930 years in time to 79AD; Titus is the new emperor in Rome, the Colosseum in Rome is finally dedicated and Mount Vesuvius is rumbling near a troublesome provincial backwater trying to rebuild itself after a devastating earthquake. This troublesome provincial backwater is, as you might have guessed, Pompeii. Fast-forward to the modern day and the emperors are long gone, the Colosseum is in ruins and that troublesome provincial backwater is famous for being perhaps the most impressive historical site in the entire world.
What qualifies me to write about Pompeii?
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Whilst backpacking I visited Pompeii and spent some 10 hours wandering through it. Since then I've gone to university to study Ancient History and as you can probably guess it comes up a lot. I'm also revisiting at Easter which is why I've been inspired to write about it.
Where is Pompeii?
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Pompeii is situated smack bang in the middle of modern Pompei (it seems that they didn't learn...), but if you're visiting you're likely to be coming from nearby Naples/Napoli. Thankfully the site is well connected to Naples by train and you can get there in 35 minutes on a return ticket costing about 5 euro which is, I think, excellent value for money.
What does it cost?
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For all EU citizens, which I'm guessing is all of us here at DooYoo, you buy a ticket for 10 Euro. This 10 Euro ticket gives you access to 5 sites in total, those being Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae, Villa Poppaea and Oplontis. The ticket is valid for 3 days and is undoubtedly fantastic value for money given the variety of sites to see and also given that they are less crowded and in some cases better preserved than Pompeii. Your ticket comes with a guide book and a map which allows you to learn a little bit about the buildings you are looking at. For about 5 Euro more you can rent an audio guide in numerous different languages; this will give a bit more structure to your time at Pompeii as you have a series of numbers to follow, and it gives you more information than the printed guide book. Pompeii truly is great value for money.
What is there?
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Pompeii is a fantastically preserved ancient city excavated from under 20ft of lava. I say city because that's how big it is, in ancient terms at least. Pompeii is about as big as the town I currently live in which has some 14,000 people. Given how big of a history nerd I am I made sure to walk every single street open to the public, and some not open to the public but accessible by an accidentally unlocked gate; this took 10 hours to do, so I would advise those people looking to visit Pompeii to give themselves quite some time - it definitely is a day trip experience.
Here you'll find everything from amphitheatres to normal theatres to administrative centres and everything else you would expect to find at an ancient site. But on top of this there are fast food stalls, factories, brothels, gardens and so much more. Pompeii truly feels like a slightly decrepit city rather than one buried underground for nearly 2000 years; you can tell that you are in the government district of town or the baker's district or the industrial district or residential suburbia and it is THIS that makes it truly magical to visit. Whereas the ruins of Rome are usually ankle high, the buildings here are building sized; it came as quite a shock to me to see a staircase - the thought struck me that somebody had once run up and down these stairs. This was perhaps my most moving experience at the site.
Of course it's impossible to use the words 'Pompeii' and 'moving' in the same article without talking about the body casts. These were created when people and animals caught up in the event decomposed and left people and animal shaped holes in the ground which were then filled with plaster. Such detail has been preserved that you can see peoples' nostrils, teeth, the folds in their clothing and rather poignantly the look of fear or agony on their faces. It is beyond a hallowing experience to witness somebody's final moments.
There is however a downside to the preservation of all these frescoes and mosaics and buildings and bodies. Because Pompeii is such a popular site there are millions of people that visit it. Some imbeciles have seen fit to graffiti over the frescos and break bits off the walls to keep as souvenirs little realising that they won't be replaced. I am somewhat of the opinion that numbers should be limited or that the place be closed to all but academics and archaeologists.
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Pompeii is a place beyond compare whether you are interested in history or not. It is cheap to get to and cheap to get into but with rewards beyond compare. Unfortunately it is the target of vandalism and this is placing its future in jeopardy. I highly recommend going, but please, don't write on the walls....
I went to Pompeii with my school a few years ago, and it was simply eye opening, amazing and so extraordinary. It is a location one MUST visit in their lifetime.
It is situated near Rome, and is Western Italy, in the region of Campania, at the foot of Mount Vesuvius and near Herculaneum, in the Bay of Naples.
Pompeii is an ancient Roman city that was covered in ash and pumice in the Vesuvian Eruption of AD 79. This allowed the whole city to be preserved, and artefacts to be very well kept.
After many years of excavation thanks to Guiseppe Fiorelli, Pompeii is what it is today: A well maintained "living capsule" (sorry for such cliché phrase) for the city. Although not all of it is excavated, a large part has been which we are able to visit and explore for ourselves.
~~~SPECIFIC SITES OF INTEREST~~~
- Plaster Casts of bodies
This is perhaps the MOST famous artefacts linked to Pompeii. Plaster casts of the dead bodies were able to be taken due to the cavities left under the ash and pumice as the bodies incinerated.
They show the exact position of the people as they died, what they were doing etc. One of the famous ones include a dog, which showed what kind of animals they had.
- Caecilius' House
As I studied the Cambridge Latin Course, Caecilius was very prominently featured, and we visited his house. It was a very typical Roman House with an atrium and peristyle garden (horto). It was nice to also see the "CAVE CANEM" mosaic.
- House of the Faun
This is one of the famous houses in Pompeii, where a lot of art can be found. There is a fountain at the front of the house with a Faun statue, as well as the "Alexander The Great" mosaic. This was a typical house of the wealthy, and architecturally is stunning. The use of light and the way the windows are constructed so you can see through all the rooms would've been stunning. Unfortunately, only the Faun statue remains, along with the Alexander the Great Mosaic. Still, it is a nice location, right next to the forum to visit.
- Villa of Mysteries
This is perhaps one of the most intriguing houses you can find in Pompeii. It is unique in that it is found not IN the city, but OUTSIDE, and is very often thought to be a related to a secret cult. The main reason for this is the long frieze found in the central rooms, which depicts what many think to be an initiation rite: there is a bride, cupid, Venus, Fauns and contains many other mythological aspects which allow us to see what they believed in.
It is also an interesting house to visit as it contained its own gardens, a wine press and shows that it is wealthy and produces its own industry. It also has around 90 rooms, making it one of the biggest houses in Pompeii; this due to the fact it is not confined to the insula structure.
- The Forum
This is not found in central Pompeii like it is expected in a Roman Town, but to the South West. This is due to the history and the way the town has expanded. It contains many key buildings such as the Capitolium, temple of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva; the Basilica (law court), The municipal buildings, Temple of Apollo, Meat and Fish Market and many more.
The forum would've been a spectacle at the time with marble floors and two storey archways which are now almost all gone. You get a real sense of scale and splendour when you are there. It is purely stunning.
This is very well preserved, and you can actually sit on the seats. I really liked just sitting there and looking around. It gives you a viewpoint, although not as high as I'd like. The shapes and organisation of such a structure is fantastic.
- Amphitheatre of Pompeii
This is one of the strangest amphitheatres that exist, as it does not conform to the general style of amphitheatres. Instead of walking through archways into the building, it had stairs that went on the outside. It is a nice long oval shape... When we went it was after rain, and the arena was slightly flooded, but it was fun and great to stand in the middle and look around and see just how big it is!
It was also just fascinating to walk down the cobbled streets. They are so straight and long, and the pavement also quite narrow (for pedestrians). They often had horse carts so the middle would be used by them, and interestingly, they have stepping stones, like zebra crossings, used to prevent their feet from getting wet if the road was to be flooded.
It was an extremely enjoyable experience; fascinating and just stunning. You really comprehend how amazing this ancient civilization is. Although they aren't advanced in the terms of electronic technology, they were wise and what they had constructed made sense, it was very mathematical and well designed. Hey, they stood 2000 years and we can still visit them!
I would recommend to every single living soul to visit Pompeii atleast once in their lifetime. You can't explore the whole site in one day, so go go go!! Also, forecasts are that Mount Vesuvius is likely to erupt (like a violent one) in the next however many years (soon in terms of volcanic years! Hah!), which is likely to destroy (or preserve?) what is currently excavated; so go before it is all gone. This is another reason why the rest hasn't been excavated, if there is another eruption, they don't want that to go too!
Pompeii is one of the most well preserved and insightful, once in a lifetime, stunning experiences. Don't miss out, and book your holiday there TODAY!
Everyone has heard of the ancient Roman city that lay at the foot of Mount Vesuvius and was completely buried by lava and ash when the volcano erupted in 79AD. It had been almost perfectly preserved for almost two thousand years before it was rediscovered in 1748 and is now one of the most popular tourist sites in Italy.
I recently went on a cruise around the Mediterranean Sea, where the first port of call was Naples in Italy. There were many shore excursions on offer in the area but the one that my sister and I chose to go on was the tour of Pompeii and a trip up Mount Vesuvius in a 4x4 monster truck. The cost of our excursion was £56 paid through Thomson but I think the actual entrance fee is 11EURO for adults and 5.5EURO for children, according to sources on the internet.
Our tour started at the main entrance to the archaeological site, and we began our walking tour with our English speaking tour guide Francesco. The tickets were arranged for us, and we were all wearing radios so Francesco could talk to us and give us some of the history of what we were looking at. Due to the fact that we had limited time, and the ruins of Pompeii are over a large area, we were only going to be seeing some of the city which I think could be considered to be the highlights.
We visited in November, so the crowds were quite light and the weather was not too cold (around 16/17C) although unfortunately on our visit the weather was stormy and wet for part of the day. I would recommend taking an umbrella with you in any event, to provide shade from the sun in summer and rain in winter. We didn't, and managed to get soaked!! It's a long walk around and the roads are uneven in places so trainers or good walking shoes are a must.
The first thing that you notice about Pompeii is how advanced the Romans were. Everything seemed incredibly well planned, and well constructed with drinking fountains by the side of the road and the Roman equivalent of speed bumps to slow the Chariots down as they passed through the city. We were taken inside one of the houses in the town which had I think three rooms and a garden at the back. The walls were still painted and Francesco said that the red colour was practically unique and very difficult to reproduce. The detail was amazing in the pictures on the wall and it is incredible that they have survived for so long.
We were taken inside the local brothel - a welcome respite from the thunder and rain even though we only got to stay for a couple of minutes. There were some quite explicit pictures on the wall which Francesco said were kind of like the 'menu' of what was on offer as back then some of the men had trouble with reading so they just pointed at the pictures to express what they wanted! It was quite amusing as Francesco kept shaking his head and referring to the "naughty Romans!"
We saw the amazing courthouse area where the lawyers of the time were apparently not allowed to accept payment for their work, but could accept gifts in the form of gold, silver, jewellery and houses!
One of the last sites we came past was where they had plaster casts of some of the victims from Pompeii, which was quite haunting as you saw them lying on the ground covering their eyes from the dust and ash.
The two hours of the tour went by quite quickly and we were soon taken back to the 'touristy' area just outside the entrance to the ruins. Here you can buy souvenirs, have some food or use the toilets and most of the coaches are parked nearby. I bought a fridge magnet from one of the market stalls where the woman tried to sell me 35EURO book on Pompeii with quite some force so you have to be firm and say no if you don't want anything.
Pompeii is a great place to visit and well worth the time spent there. It is an amazing insight into life thousands of years ago and it is incredible how well everything has been preserved. I think I have been quite fortunate to have seen both Pompeii and the ancient Pyramids in Cairo and both have been a great experience
While holidaying in Sorrento one of the must see places on our list of things to do was to visit the ancient Roman ruins of Pompeii. Unfortunately on the day we visited it was incredibly hot which sort of impacted on our overall enjoyment of the visit as it was really too hot to be out in the scorching sun and there is not a lot of shade to be had still I'm pleased that I visited wha is a wonderfully mystical site.
We went as part of an organised tour from Sorrento which included an early morning visit to Vesuvious and then the drive down to have a guided tour of Pompeii which lasted about three hours, personally after 90 minutes the heat started to get to us and I became rather less interested in what was being said. Nothing to do with the quality of the guide just me not coping with the heat despite a large hat, lots of water and sun cream liberally applied.
Pompeii itself is a large sprawling site in whuich you couldspend a couple of days trying to see everything. The walk up to the entrance takes you past lots of snack booths and it has a rather unkempt feel to it on the approaches.
There is lotsto see including the Temple of Venus, the old baths and the Temple of Apollo are all impressive buildings especially the latter. Exploring is the name of the game and some of the gardens which have been maintained are really delightful and the brothel is an obvious place to visit. Finally the theatres are well worth seeing and were probably the highlight of our tour alongside the Temle of Apollo.
A visit is definately recommended, an entry ticket was I think about 12 euro and I do remember that kids go in free as long as you have some sort of id showing they are born in a member country of the EU. A great historic site and one that has a wonderfully haunted quality to it despite the large crowds as you can always find yourself a quiet spot.
**Step back little in time!**
Modern day Pompeii is a town where a lot of Italians still live but just a little bit away is the lost city of Pompeii. Pompeii is situated in the region of Campania near to Naples in Italy and set close to the infamous Mount Vesuvius. It is a fabulous place to visit and is like a time warp of Roman culture and history. Anyone who craves a bit of culture or has a love for the past should visit. It is like literally stepping into a lost city and you can imagine what life was like 2000 years ago.
If you are staying in Naples of the Neapolitan Riviera (or even if in Rome) a visit to Pompeii has to be numero UNO on you sightseeing list! Another must is not to forget the camera! I have visited Pompeii twice now both whilst I have stayed in Sorrento on holiday in 2003 and 2008. In my latter visit I also made it to Herculaneum which is much smaller and lesser known. (Though still well worth a visit as the ruins are easier to navigate round although harder to get to)
**A bit of history**
In the 8th century BC there was an Iron Age settlement here but it was not until the 4th century BC that the Romans conquered the Bay of Naples. So then Pompeii starts to build itself up as a city. An earthquake hit Pompeii in AD62 but the real disaster to strike is off course in AD 79. In AD79 Mount Vesuvius erupted and caused utter devastation to this coastal area. As we know the volcano erupted and Pompeii disappeared under a mountain of volcanic ash and was destroyed and buried. The poor townsfolk had little chance of escape and those in neighbouring towns saw it coming too late. Over 2000 people perished as the ash buried them. But lucky for us some 1700 years later in 1748 it was rediscovered. Since then Archaeologists have gradually painstakingly being uncovering the lost town of Pompeii for the world to see and rediscover. There are still parts being rediscovered today.
Pompeii is a pretty easy place to get to and you can do it in many ways. You could hire a car but you will put your life at risk with those zippy Italian drivers. You could get an excursion with your tourist company or one in Italy which will empty your wallet by about £50 or more. Or you could take the savvy option and get yourself there with Italian Public transportation. The trains in this region are fast, reliable and super cheap too. From Sorrento we caught a train to the gates of Pompeii which took 30 minutes or so cost 4 euro or so and dropped us off literally at the door. Now that certainly beats British trains! You can get the train from Naples too but make sure you get off at the right Pompeii station and don't end up in the new town of Pompeii! Outside the gates there are some little stalls selling cheap souvenirs and drinks.
Before going I seriously recommend you have a map of Pompeii, plenty of sun cream and drinks as on a hot day this place is a killer especially if you are determined to see everything in one day!. Queuing to get in doesn't take that long as there are plenty of booths and there is a shop and toilets at the entrance too. If you forgot your map you can buy one here too. There are various prices for the entrance to Pompeii but it is relatively cheap. First time I went I paid the standard adult price of something like 12 euros. By the time I revisited I had became a teacher and I got half price admission which did annoy my friend having to pay full price. There are other types of discounts available too and you need ID to get them.
You can opt for a tourist guide to take you around the site or even get a headphone set to listen to that is numbered to correspond to the sites. Both times we went we went independently with a map first time and stupidly without second time as I thought I would remember my way around. A tip -if you go independently and get lost hover behind a guide group! If you want some peace get ahead of the groups as you will get fed up of hearing the multi-lingual guides explaining each building over and over!
Pompeii is huge and you can do it in a day but it will be tiring or you might get fed up. I found being there about 4 hours was enough. First time we went there was a lovely restaurant hidden in a side street in one of the actual buildings and it had a tourist shop. But in 2008 it had disappeared and I spent ages looking for it which was a disappointment. Make sure you have your camera ready as you will want to stop at most buildings and sites but so does everyone else so you have to be a quick snapper. When you get past admissions you have to walk up a steep hill of steps to enter the city so its best to go at a fast pace for those who get out of breath easy. There is another way in round the back near where the coaches are but this misses out the shops and main entrance to the city. It is best to have a plan of what you want to see and do and have your map handy. Most ruins have a plaque or number to help identify on the map and you can always get a guide book to research that little bit more.
What is fabulous is the roads and paths and how well preserved they look. In some of the steets the roads are pretty deep and there are the first type of zebra crossings which are big slabs of stones across the roads to connect the paths. They were to allow the horses and carts to run free down the roads but allow the pedestrians to cross. You will also notice little fountains hidden on street corners and some of them work and you can get fresh tap water from Pompeii to have a refreshing drink! It always amazes me when you see the technology they had over 2000 years ago like the pipes and under floor heating which took Britain donkeys to catch on!
**The Main things to see**
There are lots of key things to see in Pompeii as well as hidden treasures. You can see the Basilica (the law court and economic centre) and the Forum (where political speeches were heard) which are both main parts of the town and near to the entrance. At certain points you can see the elusive Mount Vesuvius ominously in the background. You can see the forum baths and how the Romans used to bathe and spend their leisure time. You can see the theatres where different events would have take place for their leisure time. There is both a large and a small theatre and sit where the people would have sat at the time. The Amphitheatre is a huge structure and was used for gladiator games and chariot races. There are lots of Villas intact so you can see the many different Houses and how affluent the families of the time lived. Some of them still have fine paintings in them. In some of them you can see what the back gardens would have looked like. These various houses are interesting to look around to have a good nosey at what it was like to live in Roman times. The best ones to see are the House of Vettie (Casa dei Vettii) where the owners were super rich or the Villa of the Mysteries (Villa dei Misteri) which has some of the oldest paintings from the ancient world. There are other great houses to see too. There are also strange little things that exist like the bakery with its oven still there or the brothel (Lupanare).
Near the forum there is a storage area with some hidden delights of potteries etc. One of the strange things in there are moulds of people where they have cast the positions that people would have died in during the eruption. Giuseppe Fiorelli was the person who developed this method of injecting liquid plaster into the open areas left by the victim's bodies. It is quite saddening to see how people would have perished in the positions conducting their daily life when the ash struck them down. There are some in this storage area with the potteries but they are also dotted around the site too.
The list of things to see is endless and you are best pinpointing on the map a top ten list of what to see whilst you are there. There are plenty of place to sit down for a rest and you will get exhausted from trying to get round it all. The exit is pretty in itself as you go gently down hill and you see the walls of the city and nice greenery around it. It brings you nicely round to the front near to the train station for your return ride home.
I thoroughly recommend that you visit Pompeii if in the area and also Herculaneum if you get the chance. You can get to Herculaneum on the train but then have to walk down through the town of Herculaneum which is pretty grotty to get to the historical site. Interestingly they are still doing further digging there too. Overall Pompeii is easy to reach from Naples or Sorrento and cheap enough to get in and work your way round. If not staying there then I suppose there is just the added cost of budgeting for a holiday too! This is one of the closest chances you will get to revisit the past and bring it back to life 2000 years later. The site will simply amaze you. Bear in mind the Volcano may still erupt again as its been over a 2000 years since it happened and yet the region around Vesuvius is still densely populated! Find out more at www.pompeiisites.org which is an official site for Pomepeii and Herculaneum.
During the summer we visited Italy and stayed in teh Sorreno reion so for me one of the highlights was a trip to see the ruins at Pompeii. Discovered in 1594 after beng buried in AD79 when Vesuvius blew its top Pompei is a fascinating place to visit, one of the things that struck me as we approached is that the surrounding area looks a bit grotty but as we were on a coach tour we were dropped off in the car park. We had a guided tour arranged which lasted about three hours which to be honest was more than enough as it was a baking hot day.
It looked like the entry fee was 12 euro but I did not really take much notice as we had pre paid as part of the tour.
Do not expect to be abe to see everything as it is a massive site and would probably take a couple of days to see everything, however your tour guide will take you to all the main bits and it certanly was fascinating to be able to walk around such a famous site with some lovely mosaics to see.
The public baths were particularly well presented as were the communal toilets and it is worth checking out the Temple of Venus. My favourite area was the Temple of Appollo, especially the basilica however I also enjoyed just walking around the e of streets as well as you certainly know you are in the middle of what was once a thrving community.
The two main theatres are also interesting to visit as are the barracks that housed the gladiators, I had my fit Russel Crowe yearning and then remembered that he is a bit of a lump these days.
Overall this is one of those places that if you are in the area you feel obliged to see, it does get very crowded and of course the tour groups all head for the same areas but it is still pretty amazing and certainly not over priced.
Pompeii was an ancient town that was under the Roman Empire. But when mount Vasuvius erupted, the town was destroyed. It was covered in metres of ash and molten rock. Then from a huge nuee ardent, a large pyroclaustic flow practically killed off the population.
Even though the locals saw the volcano starting to release gases and ash into the air, they believed that the God's would look after them. But unfortunatly that wasnt the case.
Those who were able to get on a local fishing boat or a boat that came to help from the main land, were the lucky ones.
It wasnt until many years later that the town was rediscovered and excurvated. This brought up many old artifacts, bodies and buildings and even dogs which depict what people felt and what things were like during and before the erruption.
This insite into the past is a must see but it isnt made interesting as there is no information on offer to help you understand fully about the town and what things were truely like. It isnt a place for children and definatly not a day out.
Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79AD covering the whole city of Pompeii in ash and mud. Over 1900 years later and parts of the buildings are still standing as the ash from the eruption preserved everything so well. Being a keen geographer and having an interest in history I've always been fascinated that Vesuvius preserved the city of Pompeii. So when I found out that we were going to Rome I asked if we could go and see the Lost City. I was really pleased when my parents said we could.
We booked our trip to Pompeii from our hotel in Rome. We booked it with a company (Appian Line) who offered the transport (air-conditioned coach) there and back, a meal while we were there and a tour guide to show us the main sights of Pompeii. It cost us 105Euros (about £70) each and it took about four and a half hours to get to Pompeii from Rome but we stopped once on the way and once on the way back. We left our hotel at 6.20am and didn't return until 10.15pm so it was very long day.
It may sound like a really long way to travel in one day but it was well worth it! There were people on our coach who were going to the Island of Capri so we dropped them off at the Docks in Naples. We then had a small tour of Naples (in the coach) before continuing our journey to Pompeii. This meant we got to see a bit of Naples as well.
We arrived in Pompeii at about midday. We went into the shop where there were people crafting items for sale. The tour guide told us a bit about what they were making and then we had time to browse the shop and purchase any items. They were very expensive though.
We then went to a hotel restaurant where a three-course meal was served. This was included in the price of the trip but we had to pay for our own drinks. After about an hour for lunch we went to the site of the excavations. We had a two-hour tour with our guide. Naturally, in this small time scale it would be impossible to see everything (our guide informed us that it would take 2 whole days to see everything in Pompeii!) We did see a lot though and in the heat of the day I felt it was enough for one time. I would love to go back someday and see more though.
I was amazed by how well preserved everything was. It was very easy to find myself imagining life almost 2000 years ago. I could picture the people going about their daily business in the streets that are still there today. The roads were still in pretty good condition though there have been earthquakes over the years which have caused them to become uneven. For this reason I would advise that you wear comfortable walking shoes. My parents and I were very surprised to see that there were speed bumps in the streets to slow the Chariots down. These could also be used to walk across to cross the road, as the curbs were quite high. We had no idea that speed bumps had been invented so many years ago!
Some of the houses were still in good condition so you could go inside. I was surprised to find that they were quite big and I was fascinated by the quality of lifestyle that they appeared to have all those years ago. There was a hole in the roof in the kitchen area where they collected rainwater to wash the dishes. They also had drainage systems, which took the water out into the street. They had water fountains at the end of street, so drinking water was within a convenient walking distance. They had marvellous paintings on the walls (they used animal blood) and beautiful mosaics on some of the floors.
One of the streets were a line of shops. The archaeologists knew they were shops because there was a track on the ground that a sliding door would go along, and also because of the remains that were inside. There was a shop, which used to be a bakery and the oven was still in good condition. The archaeologists believe that people used to come from outside of Pompeii to do their shopping in the city. This is why they will never know exactly how many people died when Mt. Vesuvius erupted.
The Temples and Roman Baths were still in good condition and they were really interesting to see. I felt these were a very interesting part of the tour as they are the sort of buildings I would immediately associate with Ancient Romans.
Any materials that would rot, e.g. wood, obviously were no longer there. However, some of the roofs had been reconstructed to show what it would have looked like before Vesuvius erupted. Also, any statues that are on display there are copies as the genuine ones are in a museum in Naples.
As we only had two hours to look around, our tour guide tried to show us the most interesting parts of the site. She explained why she thought they were interesting and told us a bit about the parts we missed. She made the trip very enjoyable and she happily answered any questions we had. I would definitely recommend visiting Pompeii with a tour guide if you don't have a lot of time to spare because we wouldn't have known where to start if we'd been on our own.
Some of the bodies that have been found have been covered with plaster cast and are on display. I think it is interesting to see these as they are so old but I also think it may be a little disrespectful to have them on display for all to look at.
There were quite a few stalls in the entrance to the site. These were selling souvenirs and food and drinks. Be careful though, on one of the souvenir stalls we asked the price of something and decided to buy it. We just looked at something else and the woman at the stall started trying to get us to buy it. It started off at 35 (about £21) and because we said no thanks she kept dropping her price (2 for 20), and if that wasn't bad enough (that she was ripping us off in the first place) she followed us as we started to walk away! Not an ideal situation to be in!
As our entrance fee was included in with the price of our tour I have looked the opening times and prices up on the Internet.
Opening time: Daily 8.30am to 6pm (April to October), 8.30am to 5pm (November to March)
Admission: 10, about £7 (I got this information from www.wordtravels.com)
You could see Mt Vesuvius from the streets of Pompeii and I think this really added to the atmosphere. I really enjoyed my visit to Pompeii and would love to return some day to explore some more.
Thank you for reading! bluejules x
No visit to Naples or the Bay of Sorrento would be complete without an excursion to the ancient ruins of Pompeii. Now the guide books will regale you with stories about the history of Pompeii and its demise at the hands of the fury that was Vesuvius in AD 79 but we all know that what put Pompeii on the map (at least for us Brits) was the great Frankie Howard and his role in up Pompeii a place frequented by ample breasted young maidens and randy servants. Actually given some of the sights to be seen amongst the ruins of Pompeii Mr. Howards version is quite tame in comparison.
The Roman port of Pompeii was destroyed in AD79 when Vesuvius blew killing 2,000 of the 20,000 inhabitants. It was discovered by Domenico Fontana in 1594 whilst digging a canal. Exploration of the site did not begin until 1748 under the King of Naples Charles III of Bourbon. Most of the ancient city has now been unearthed but as late as 2000 new sites are still being discovered.
For many, myself included, an organized tour is the most common way to visit Pompeii with tours available from Naples and Sorrento.
For the independent traveler the train from Naples to Sorrento stops at Pompei-Scavi-Villa dei Misteri station and there are regular SITA bus services between Naples and Pompeii. There are numerous car parks around Pompeii for those who chose to drive along the A3 from Naples with the Pompeii slip road clearly sign posted.
During the summer months the site is open from 8.30 until 19.30 with last entry 90 minutes before closing time. In the winter months the same opening time applies with an earlier closing time of 17.00.
Admission for adults is 10 euro for a one day ticket with 5 euro for concessions. You can also purchase a combined ticket for admission to Pompeii, Ercolano and three other sites for 18 euro however it is worth remembering that the ticket is only valid for three consecutive days.
The best deal is that children get in for free provide they are from an EU country. The top tip here is to remember it is not proof of age you need but you need to have something to prove you are from the EU in the form of a passport or drivers license. It was amusing to watch the German party ahead of us fail to understand why their typically northern European looking off spring could not get free admission until one of the parents produced a passport.
Pompeii is a sprawling site and to see everything would take the best part of a couple of days. Certainly I found it very useful for the half day we were there to be part of an organized tour as the guide was able to discuss the route that she planned to take giving us reasons why she chose these particular areas and also explaining those areas that we would not have time to visit. This left us with a good understanding of the geography of the site and also for those who wanted to see more some options for a return visit.
An excellent map was provided at the main entrance which is flanked on the approaching walk by a number of gift shops and refreshment booths. These have a certain ramshackle feel to them as if they are not a permanent feature of the site and are naturally a bit pricey with a small bottle of water retailing at 1.50e.
The ruins themselves are truly fascinating and while some of the best mosaics are to be found in other Italian museums there is still plenty to see.
Entering through the Porta Marina entrance you immediately pass the Temple of Venus. Whilst some of the ruins in Rom seem more complete certainly with Pompeii you know that you are in a complete town with its maze of connecting streets. Some of the key places to visit are the old public baths with the three chambers whilst the communal toilets serve to remind you that you should have gone before you entered the site. The Temple of Apollo is quite striking with its large plinths whilst in the basilica there are some body casts depicting the survivors of the tragedy.
One of the most interesting areas for me was to explore inside some of the homes and in some of the better examples the internal gardens and fountains were still evident. A lot of the more adult carvings and murals are less evident however some of the rather explicit carvings can still be viewed and these are often set above the eye line thankfully saving me from having to explain them to my curious offspring. At the time of out visit one of the most popular locations to visit, the brothel, was closed. A hundred years earlier some renovation work had been done and it is this work which is now collapsing rather than the original structure built centuries earlier. I think they used the same builder that did my conservatory.
Our particular tour saved until last the two theatres to be found in Pompeii. Both show signs of restoration work however they are still worth a visit and they lead on t the gladiators barracks which is surrounded by about 70 columns.
Pompeii is a delightful place just to wonder around, you can still see the cart tracks in the road and the raised pavements which are punctuated every so often with stepping stones to allow the locals to cross the road without getting their feet dirty. At every point as you explore this great historical site you can always caste you eyes in an upwards direction to be greeted by the summit of Vesuvius to remind yourself on the danger that is ever present.
Top Tips for Pompeii
Carry lots of water with you as you could be in there for a few hours.
Sturdy shoes are a must as you are walking on uneven pavements and as such those who have walking difficulties will find it very hard going and it is not suitable for those in a wheelchair.
All of the guide books warn against using the self appointed guides who tout for business outside the entrances.Authorised guides wear identification tags and belong to one of four cooperatives.
If you are going it alone do not buy a map as the free one is excellent although a guide book would be useful as well.
Plan to spend at least half a day to get a good feel for the place and to do it justice.
Try and get at least one picture of an empty street so you can pretend that it was not really that crowded.
I definitely think that if I was ever in the area again I would return to Pompeii as it is truly a fascinating slice of history and due to the large number of pictures that can be found in text books it feels like you have been there before while at the same time offering new and fresh insights into Roman life. Im very grateful that I had the opportunity to see it.
Thanks for reading my review.
When I went on my holiday to Italy, Pompeii was the place I looked forward to seeing the most. Why? I have always been fascinated by the place. Everybody should see it at least once. I remember gazing at the first set of ruins. They were situated behind the entrance where the path slopes up to the city walls. I just stopped in my tracks and I thought I was dreaming. It really was a weird experience and I recommend it to the world. Pompeii is situated just a little past Naples. On the motorway I saw the infamous slums in Naples, I was shocked at how bad they were, they line the autostrada and look like something from the 19th century. The concrete blocks were all in terminal decay and rubbish decorated the streets below. Naples is notorious for its slums and it looks like a rubbish dump. That is being extremely harsh but I cannot lie about what I saw. After the turn off from the autostrada, I arrived in Pompeii. The first thing, I thought was, well where is it? If you are expecting a huge entrance with people dressed as ancient Pompeians, then you are going to be a little let down. From the car park, you have to make your way over a series of terrifying roads (traffic lights in Italy are seldom obeyed) past a lot of souvenir shops and then up a little hill. At the top, there are a lot of market stalls selling oranges and various other items. The weather was scorching but I loved it. The entrance was nothing special but you could see Pompeii. I stood there and almost broke down in tears. It was a lifetime ambition and at the grand old age of twenty-one I had achieved it. A group of us were met by a lovely Italian guide. She was going to lead us around Pompeii, and give us an absolutely fascinating talk on its history, and what happened when the volcano erupted. Another site that struck me was Mount Versuvius. When I was driving down to Naples I thought it was just a big mountain. I the
n realized that it was Mount Versuvius and it was still active. It's a massive and looming amount of rock. The last time the mountain erupted was 1946. I walked through the gatehouse and up through a darkened passageway. On the other side, the ruins and streets were visible. Again I got emotional and just surveyed the area with my jaw on the floor. I was in Pompeii where thousands of years ago, people were killed and preserved. It is really odd. The place is very big and it even has an amphitheatre. To see it all in one day is impossible. The streets are amazingly preserved. Even the directions to the brothels are intact. I actually went into a brothel (he he he), unfortunately it had been closed for some time. But amazingly the pictures of what they had to offer are still on the wall. The pictures were used by sailors who could not speak Latin and they would just point to what they wanted servicing. The pictures are quite rude and the women looked incredibly flexible. My favourite sight of the entire day was when I first glimpsed the plaster cast of a real person who had been preserved. I was first struck at how small the ancient Italians were. They must have been about five feet at the most. The cast of the man lay in a little chamber that used to be a swimming changing rooms. He lay in a glass case with a solitary sunbeam illuminating his body. I was the first person from the group to see this. I have a habit of wandering off on my own little excursions when most people cling to a guide like their lives depended on it. Later on I saw the disturbing cast of a man who was curled into a little ball. Molten lava had covered his entire body. I took a lot of photographs that day. The tour continued to the public toilets. It was bizarre that a place where people would take dumps together would be a place of immense interest us now. The guide told us that it was a unisex toilet and it was common prac
tice for friends to go together. It raised a few chuckles. My day in Pompeii was amazing. Onwards we went to a house with the most amazing motif in mosaics on the floor of the house. It was a "Beware of dog" sign. I took a picture of it and laughed in real amazement. The dog was big and looked really vicious. Another highlight of the day was visiting a house of ruins that belonged to the richest merchant in Pompeii. On the front of his house he had a picture of the God of Prosperity. The god was well'endowed and all the women in the group made jokes about their husbands being less than well'equipped. The men looked embarrassed. The guide said "He was a God, ladies". The men still gave their wives withering looks of contempt. The ruins are still amazingly intact but I learned from the guide that tourism has done more damage than good. The archeaologists are constantly battling the authorities about how poorly Pompeii is protected. It seems a real shame. She told me that rain and tourism are slowly destroying one of the most important set of ruins in the world. It is becoming damaged because of people like me. I appreciate but I was not going to feel guilty about it today. I spent the rest of my time photographing the courthouse and mayor's house and various other ruins. From the top of Pompeii I could see beautiful green mountains leading to the Amalfi coast. Italy is one beautiful country. Pompeii is highly recommended because it is endlessly fascinating. I would definitely go there again. In fact it is my new ambition, to retrace my steps around Pompeii.
Pompeii is a ruined Roman city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania, in the territory of the comune of Pompei. It was destroyed, and completely buried, during a catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius on 24 August 79 AD. The volcano buried Pompeii under many meters of ash, and it was lost for 1,600 years before its accidental rediscovery in 1748. Since then, its excavation has provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city at the height of the Roman Empire. Today, it is a main tourist attraction of Italy and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.