If you are interested in history then you are going to want to visit the ancient city of Pompeii. Located in the Campania region of Italy, the closest modern Italian city is Naples. We got to visit as part of a day trip from Rome. You can either do this through an organised tour company or get the train. Pompeii really is an incredible sight, and one of those places you visit that leaves you in awe.
Rome to Pompeii
If you are staying in Rome then you will need to spend a full day getting to Pompeii and seeing the sights. Some people choose to get the train, however if you are short of time we recommend doing a tour. We booked through Viator and this included a brief stop over in Naples. Depending on what time of year you visit though you can also book a tour that includes a visit to Mt Vesuvius.
As part of the package, we got a guided tour of Pompeii which is great when you are pushed for time. We got shown all the main sights with expert commentary.
A bit of history
Pompeii was located 5 miles from Mt Vesuvius with a population of around 20,000. It was a rather distinguished city attracting a lot of well to do Romans. Filled with extravagant houses, markets, and even a brothel, Pompeii was the place to be back in the day. In 79AD Mt Vesuvius erupted burying the city under a thick layer of volcanic ash. A lot of people managed to escape however those that didn’t, suffocated due to the levels of ash in the air.
Pompeii remained untouched until 1748 when a group of explorers stumbled upon the ancient city. What amazed them was the fact that under all the ash and dust the city was pretty intact. The ash had moulded itself to the remains of the victims indicating that they had died pretty suddenly. The fact that the city was so well preserved has enabled us to gain an accurate insight into what life was like at that time.
At first glance it is pretty apparent that you could spend weeks walking around Pompeii. Due to our limited time though a guided tour was perfect. We got to see the key sights and could ask questions along the way. If you are pushed for time then these are the sights we recommend:
This was the religious, economic, and political centre of life in Pompeii. A lot of shops, temples and even courthouses were located in this area so it is definitely a must see. It really does gives a great insight into life in Pompeii.
The Lupanar or the brothel is a must see. It might sound crass but it gives an incredible insight into life in Pompeii. The brothel was stretched out over two floors and your class determined what floor you went to. The downstairs contained 5 rooms each with a stone bed. There are also pictures on the walls, which I guess served as “inspiration”. A handy tip, if you are looking for the brothel is to follow the the direction of the stone penises carved into the walkways and buildings.
Apparently this is the oldest stone building of its kind to be discovered. It dates back to 80BC and seated around 12000 spectators.
Terme Stabiane is one of the largest and best preserved of the baths in Pompeii. Here you can see the baths up close and get an understanding of how they were heated. The male and female baths were separated by the stoves used to heat the water.
House of Vetti
Said to be the home of two well off brothers, this house is an amazing look into life in Pompeii. The kitchen even contains cooking utensils. One of the most beautiful things though has to be the garden. It has since been replanted to show what it would have looked like when people lived here.
- Bring water. It gets really hot and there is not a ton of shade either. So make sure you are dressed appropriately and you stay hydrated.
- If you are pushed for time take a tour. The guides are really knowledgeable and this gives you the chance to ask some questions as well.
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