The idea of visiting Pompeii came from the same place that most of my travel inspiration comes from, (documentaries, movies, TV shows, and other travel bloggers). With Pompeii in the forefront, I planned part of September’s 2016 Euro trip in and around Italy which included my return to Rome with What To Do In Rome In 2 Days and my 96 Hour Naples Itinerary. In addition, I planned to spend time in Catania and Syracuse on the island of Italy’s Sicily and Valletta on the island of Malta. Yes, as you probably guessed, Sicily was inspired by The Godfather and Malta by the Game Of Thrones.
But I digress.
Back to my one day, Pompeii guided tour and the reason why the city of Pompeii has remained one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy.
Sealed under more than 60 feet of ash and pumice.
Until its discovery in the mid-1700s, the unbelievable history of this city had been buried and sealed under more than 60 feet of ash and pumice. And although much of the city’s collections were ruined by the nearby volcano, a significant number of artifacts had been saved and preserved. This catapulted the (newly) found city into one of Italy’s most popular tourist attractions which draw in about 2 million people yearly.
Getting to Pompeii from Naples
My Pompeii Guided Tour
Planning ahead is the best possible way to get the most out of a one day visit to Pompeii from Naples. This meant getting up a little bit earlier than usual (which I hate).
Damn those endless limoncello shots I kept putting back the night before in Naples, probably wasn’t the best idea.
Luckily, the ancient Roman city is close by and the journey from Naples to Pompeii is about 25 minutes by car and about 40 minutes by train. Naturally, I took an inexpensive train roundtrip from Napoli Centrale Station to Pompei Scavi Station or the Pompei Station. The Pompeii station you arrive at depends on your departure time and which train you end up boarding (the Circumvesuviana train or the Trenitalia train respectively).
Pompeii is too big, and if you’re there in September like me, too hot to be wandering around aimlessly.
Pompeii was once a striving city which in essence, makes it a large “open-air” museum. Exploring it by yourself as a Pompeii guided tour is going to require the entire day. And if you’re really into this archeology stuff maybe even two. Through my research I came across this helpful PDF: Plan of the excavations of Pompeii which gives you a list of all the sites and their locations on a map. I strongly suggest you download, work out your interests and plan accordingly.
When I left Naples I ended up catching the Trenitalia train which brings me to the Pompei station, on the East side of Pompeii. Even though you can enter from here it does feel more like an exit. The Pompei Scavi station via the Circumvesuviana train on the West side of Pompei has that impressive ‘you’ve arrived at Pompei’ type of feel. Something to consider.
The freakiest display of human suffering frozen in time
That being said, what is interesting, just in front of the East entrance is the glass display containing plaster casts of the peoples final moments just as themselves and everything they knew was covered in ash and pumice. Archeologist Giuseppe Fiorelli developed a technique that allowed him to retrieve the shape of the human body that once filled the empty cavity in the layers of ash by injecting plaster. The voids acted as a mold, and the end product was a plaster cast that recreated the shape of the victims thus presenting a vivid image of the anguishing last moments of the souls buried in the volcanic debris. Absolutely fascinating, disturbing and depressing all at the same time.
Spending the day in Pompeii – my Pompeii guided tour
A day in Pompeii
Historically, Pompeii was established as an important port town-city, in the Campania region of Italy which was ruled by the Roman empire. Researchers believe that the town was founded in the 7th or 6th century BC and at that time, the town was generally occupied by sailors and featured some public facilities such as brothels, taverns, public baths, bars, and hotels.
When Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79 it destroyed Pompeii, the neighboring city-town Herculaneum and many villas in the area, burying it and its people under 4 to 6 meters of volcanic ash and pumice. Pompeii population at the time was estimated at about 11,000 people which makes the once thriving city a vast archaeological site. As a matter of fact, despite the large excavation that has already been done, many sites are still yet to be accessible.
I think the best way to view the city is to walk through the partly excavated but preserved streets which are organized with a grid street plan as most Roman-built cities. You really get a sense of going back in time but what really helped my Pompeii guided tour was the Plan of the excavations of Pompeii PDF.
Are you not entertained?
Here are some of my highlights:
Amphitheatre of Pompeii
The Amphitheatre of Pompeii was built around 70 BC and is the oldest surviving Roman amphitheater. It was originally built to hold about 20,000 spectators in 70 A.D.
The The Great Gymnasium was built at the end of the 1st century BC. Inside the grand gym, skeletons were also discovered many with personal items including gold, silver, bronze, jewelry etc…
The Large Theatre was built into a natural hill in the second century BC. This theatre sat roughly 4,000 spectators.
Quadriportico Dei teatri o Caserma dei Gladiatori
The Quadriportic of Theaters, also called the Gladiator’s Barracks, was a leisure area or shelter from the rain for the spectators of the nearby great and small theatres. Following the 62nd Pompeii earthquake, it was completely restored, expanded and changed its function into a school for gladiators.
This area for example The Roman Forum would of been Pompeii’s public square, reserved primarily for the vending of goods; a marketplace – The Roman Form: this place served as the main piazza of ancient Pompeii. Just so you know, this place was designed in such a way that anyone who is on the stage can be heard from any location. There is literally no need for microphones because it has good acoustic.
I completely underestimated just how big Pompeii is or was. As much as I hate waking up early when I’m on vacation but who am I really kidding. Once I decided to start this travel blog, it immediately became as much work as my full-time job. Anyways, Pompeii is big, with lots of sites to explore. Also, that part of Italy was blazing hot in the month of September to drink lots of water. Buy a water bottle and keep filling it up at the various taps producing the clean water that they pride themselves on. If you really into this archeology and history stuff then I would even spend the night.
Using the latest travel apps, technology, and gear, I take a city; see the sights, taste the food, smell the roses, hear the stories and feel the love. All in 48 hours. Then, using videography & editing, photography and writing I retell and share those stories with my readers and viewers.
I'm Christopher Rudder and welcome to Rudderless Travel.
Read more about me here: Being Rudderless With Christopher Rudder
here Rudderless Travel gets nominated for the Leibster Award
oh and here: A Consultant for Special Needs Students, AND a Travel Blogger!
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you purchase a product, I may earn a commission. This commission comes at no extra cost to you. Please remember that I never recommend a product just for the commission — I only recommend something I genuinely believe in, trust and/or use personally. The small income I make here will help in maintaining this blog. Thanks for your support!