Pompeii blew my mind! It was massive. For some reason, I thought Pompeii was a small town, village even. But it isn’t, it’s a city. The excavated grounds cover a large area, next to the modern-day town of Pompeii. A very intriguing and historical place which still lies under an active volcano.
Originally a seaside town, Pompeii nows lies inland under the Mt Vesuvius. It is believed that Mt Vesuvius was initially a lot taller than the 1281m it stands today.
Early morning, on 24 August 79AD a large earthquake was felt throughout the city of Pompeii. Later in the afternoon, Mt Vesuvius erupted, sending ash and pumice high into the sky. Thick, black clouds were cast across the sky. Later in the night and the following morning, hot and deadly plumes of gas and dust flew down the mountainside enveloping the city of Pompeii and changing the surrounding landscape forever.
For hundreds of years after the fatal eruption, it was thought the volcano had completely destroyed the city of Pompeii. This was until it was re-discovered in the mid-18th century. Excavations began and so too did the modern science of archaeology.
Here are some tips on how to explore Pompeii for a day.
There are plenty day trip options to Pompeii, where you meet really early in the morning, take a bus from Rome with a bunch of people and then have a guided tour around Pompeii, before bussing back. We looked into these options, if have difficulties with timings and trains, this would be a good option for you. But we did a little more research and found we were able to organise it all ourselves and go on a train for cheaper.
So we caught the train from Rome, via Naples to get to Pompeii. Trenitalia was the website we used. We found trains were more time-efficient and smoother to ride. Buses are fine, they’re generally a bit cheaper but they take longer and are a bit rougher. So for a big day walking around ruins, we thought the train was the way to go.
Our train experience
We were all fine and dandy getting to Pompeii, but on the return trip to Rome, we had some train problems. Unluckily for us, our first train broke down. So we were sitting in an almost empty carriage on a stationary train in the middle of the Italian countryside. A lady came through spouting something off in Italian, we were just sitting there with blank faces. I asked her if she spoke English, she just shrugged at me and carried on. A young Italian guy managed a small amount of English to tell us to move a few carriages up the train. I have no idea how this helped the situation but apparently, that was what the conductor had said.
By this time, our second train had left the station. We waited and waited, in about 30 minutes the train was off and moving again. We made it to Naples to switch trains. Our next mission was exchanging our missed train tickets for new ones. As previously mentioned, we speak no Italian so it was very difficult to explain what had happened to the men at the ticket office. We were all, hand gestures and pointing at our old tickets and the clock. Eventually, we came to an understanding, just as James thought to use Google translate on his phone. Off we trotted to our train, only to be an hour and a half late home. Not too bad after an awesome day in Pompeii.
Although, this probably isn’t the best advocation for the train services, overall it worked well for us. It got us where we needed to be, I’d go on the train again.
Pompeii is still a town. There’s a train station, houses, a street of shops and cafes. It’s quite cute but also quite touristy. You wouldn’t need more than an hour to look around the township. While you’re browsing some of the markets, keep your eyes out for pickpockets and scams.
As far as tours go, we booked ours through Tripadvisor. We went with walking tours of about 1-2 hours which were reasonably priced, about €11-20 ea. This was a great length to get around the city of Pompeii and see some good sights but also have time to explore for ourselves, at our own pace.
There are plenty of different walking tours to choose from using a plethora of websites. It really depends on your preferences for time and cost.
What to bring
- Water bottle (it can be very hot and there aren’t a lot of places for refreshments in the archeological site)
- Hat (there isn’t much shade)
- Good walking shoes (you’ll be walking over cobbles all day)
- Camera (of course)
Pompeii is an amazing place. I highly recommend it to anyone who has the chance to visit it.
Video Playlist; Pompeii: The Mystery of the people frozen in time (BBC) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMySiG_P6q4&list=PLcvEcrsF_9zJ3xXVB_Sv0cFTkdyq3CXUH&index=1
History Channel website: http://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/pompeii
Britannica website: https://www.britannica.com/place/Pompeii0