The ancient ruins of Pompeii in Italy are without a doubt one of the most intriguing archaeological experiences in the world. It is a lifetime experience that takes you back in the lanes of an old roman city, where you can walk around and sneak peak into old houses, shops, cafes, temples, brothels, and amphitheatres. The archaeological Areas of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata were also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
I remember learning about Pompeii when I was 10 or 11 years old, watching discovery channel. I was astonished by the eruption event and the way it engulfed a prosperous roman city of Pompeii. I have to admit that I am still in the awe of the power of nature in the world we live in. One image that really stick with me throughout these years was the image of two loved ones, hugging each other waiting for the inevitable fate while the ash must have fallen down. I often imagined about these people, who they were? what was their life like? What was their last conversation? what were their last thoughts? As I was walking through the lanes of Pompeii, I was peeking into their homes and imagining the lives they lived….It was a surreal experience for me…
Looking at Mount Vesuvius through the lanes of Pompeii
In AD 79, the city of Pompeii was destroyed by sudden volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Within 25 hours the city was buried under a deep layer of Lapilli (burning segments of pumice stone). Since the city was buried so quickly, the site is a well preserved snapshot of a prosperous roman city of that time.
Pliny the Elder, a roman savant and author notes that there was a massive debris cloud of ash that resembled a Mediterranean pine tree. A glowing cloud of volcanic gases and debris rolled down the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius enveloped the city of Pompeii falling at a rate of 6 inches (15cm) an hour. After the catastrophic event, the ruins of Pompeii were not discovered for a long time. In 1594, an architect named Dominico Fontana found the ruins while digging a canal in the area, however the proper exploration work did not start until 1748. Even today the exploration work is ongoing, Pompeii still continues to uncover new discoveries everyday (Source: Lonelyplanet)
How to get there
We flew to the Naples airport from Bordeaux, France. From Naples airport, we boarded the official Naples Alibus airport shuttle to the Piazza Garibaldi – central train station. The Alibus stop is close to the main entrance of the airport, and the bus runs every 15-20 minutes.
Tip: Be very careful while crossing the roads. The traffic is crazy and won’t stop for you!
Tip: If you are unfamiliar with the area, we recommend you to stick to the Alibus bus service. We had people offering us a private bus/ car ride to the train station. We just politely declined the offers.
There are two train options available to get to Pompeii from Naples
1. Circumvesuviana Napoli-Sorrento (stop Pompei Villa dei Misteri) This is the local train line and cheaper. The ticket can be purchased at the station before boarding. Since it is the local lines, it has various stops, is extremely busy and a little run down. If you want to have to have an authentic local experience, this is it!
The cost of the trip is 2.60 euro and the station is about 1 minute walk to the main entrance of the ruins. The train departs every 30 minutes, and the total trip time is approximately 35 minutes.
Tip: At times the local train can be very busy and packed. You’d be lucky if you find a spot to stand 😉 Please BEWARE of pickpocketing at the station and in the trains, it is very common.
2. Metropolitano train from Naples to Pompeii -Trenitalia (stop Pompei Station) This train is supposed to be in a better physical condition and has apparently fewer stops and also a more comfortable and less busy ride. The cost and time of journey is approximately the same.
The Metropolitano train drops you at Pompei Station in the new city area. Please note that this is not the same station as the Circumvesuviana station. This station is approximately 10-15 minutes walk from the main entrance os ruins.
Depending on the time you want to spend exploring the ruins, you can either buy tickets online or at the main entrance of the site. The ideal time to explore the ruins is at least 2 days, however the highlights can also be covered in one day.
Tip: We rented the audioguide headphones for our tour and paid 8 euro each. However we did not find them to be useful. Therefore we recommend not to waste money on that. Instead of that familirize yourself with site by doing a little of research before visiting OR print an official map from the website.
Before you start exploring, make sure you have lots of water, snacks, sunscreen and a hat. It gets really hot during afternoon hours. Make sure to stay hydrated and take breaks in shady areas.
Come let us take you to the ancient lanes of Pompeii
Amphitheatre in Pompeii
The Amphitheatre of Pompeii is the oldest surviving Roman amphitheatre. It is known to be built around AD 70. The colosseum in Rome was built after this.
Inside Ancient homes
Tip: Most lanes can be really busy and crowded during peak tourist times. So be prepared to wait patiently to take a good shot
Interesting Fact: Upon digging over the years, archaeologists have found over 500 objects including gold coins, jewellery, household pots, pans, nuts, charred bread, and seeds all preserved in the ash.
Most victims perished instantly due to superheated air and ash that burned their lungs and contracted their muscles. This left the bodies buried in the same positions and thus preserved for hundreds of years to come (Source: livescience.com)
Final Tip: As this is a very touristy area, please BEWARE of tourist scams, if taking any tours inquire with few vendors before making a decision. Personally we felt that people and the local visitor centre staff were not very helpful. we highly recommend this place for a unique experience, however make sure to be cautious and do your travel research before going there.
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THERE IS LOT TO EXPLORE. KEEP EXPLORING