“At the Foot of Mount Vesuvius”, “Frozen in time since 79 AD”
19th of February, 2012
Continuing with the second part of this weekend trip, we visit one of the most incredible highlights in the world. The Roman city of Pompeii. After having visited some other ancient civilizations “must does in a lifetime” as Petra, Athens’ Acropolis or Rome; coming here was as exciting as for any of the others with the difference that this time we knew we would get to see how a Roman city really was with all the infrastructure almost in perfect condition; palaces, temples, houses, baths, bars, shops, brothels; including original graffiti on the walls for the era; all there frozen in time after Mount Vesuvius eruption of 79 AD.
Althoug Pompeii was not the only city to be buried, it was the most affected in the sense that the amount of pyroclastics felt too abruptly destroying the roofs and upper levels of the houses; something that did not happen for example at Ercolano and Stabiae.
It was the largest city in the area, and completely disappeared after the eruption. A very large site with plenty to see. Calculate at least half a day between the time you spend getting there from Naples (or wherever you are coming from) and the time you need to see the site.
How to get there:
The trip from Naples (travel guide here) to Pompeii is around 35 minutes. The best and easiest way is by taking the Circumvesuviana trains. Very frequent running until very late at night. They operate from the lower level of the main train station at Piazza Garibaldi. The route is to Sorrento stopping at Torre Anunziata for Oplontis, Ercolano Scavi for Herculaneum and Pompei Scavi for Pompeii.
The site is opened from 08:30am to 17:00pm during winter months and extended to 19.30pm during summer months. For the best and official information check their webiste here, with prices for each of the sites or combined tickets should you wish to visit more than one site. Basically 11 Euros for one site, or 20 Euros for the ticket that gives you access to 5 different sites, including Ercolano, Oplontis, Stabiae and Boscoreale Student discount applies.
How to visit the site:
As for any Roman city, it was a well grid planned, with both Decumanos and Cardo intersecting in perpendicular at the Forum, where the political and religious centre would be located.
Notice on every street, the pavement and the road have a big height between them, and at the crossings, elevated stones makes the same level as the pavement (those are let’s say the zebra crossings of today). The reason for this big different in level is because the city lacked from sewer system meaning the streets were opened sewers. Romans are well known for underground sewage network, but in the case of Pompeii, was not built.
You will get to see every building that males a Roman city of this size and importance. Palaces, homes, baths, temples, bars, etc. Incredible courtyards with beautiful fountains full with mosaic floors. Even 2000 years old graffiti have survived to our days and you can see them today protected behind glass added to the walls where they are.
Overall it is very simple to visit, just making your way doing ziz-zags since all the streets follow an orthogonal grid pattern. The views of Mount Vesuvius are amazing from almost any street in Pompeii.