Roaming the ruins of Pompeii, Italy

On our way from Rome to the Amalfi coast, we decided to stop and visit the ancient ruins of Pompeii. Pompeii is a vast archaeological site in southern Italy close to the city of Naples. Once a thriving and sophisticated Roman city, Pompeii, and all its inhabitants, were suddenly and tragically buried in meters of ash after the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Pompeii is now a popular destination for history fanatics who visit the site to walk among the excavated ruins.

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how to get there

You can drive to the site of Pompeii, but if you’re touring around Italy, and not part of a tour group, it’s likely far easier to take the train. The Circumvesuviana train is a regional, commuter network of lines offering cheap transportation to the general public. Circumvesuviana connects Naples to Sorrento, with stops at Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii and Herculaneum, another ancient Roman town close to Pompeii  that was destroyed by Mount Vesuvius’s volcanic explosions in 79 AD. The trains can be very crowded, but they are budget-friendly and easy to navigate. You should disembark the train at the station Ercolano Scavi, for visits to Herculaneum and Mount Vesuvius, and the station Pompeii, for the Pompeii ruins and tours of Mount Vesuvius. They make it easy for you to find your way!

discovering the ruins

When we arrived in Pompeii it was pouring rain, but the weather was on our side, and soon cleared. We had a beautiful afternoon to wander among the ruins.

It’s an eerie and humbling site to explore. Imagine an active and splendid Roman city centre where suddenly life comes to a permanent standstill. The thick layer of volcanic material that burst from Mount Vesuvius submerged the city of Pompeii. The fierce volcano spurted clouds of ash and soft volcanic material, which solidified into extremely hard stone upon impact with the unsuspecting Pompeii residents. This resulted in the city remaining intact until present day discovery. Buildings and houses, as well as all the contents and life within them, were well preserved, providing archaeologists with a fascinating picture of “daily” Roman life.

We spent about two hours wandering the ruins, and unless you are incredibly passionate about Pompeii and the history that surrounds it, that’s all you need in terms of time. The site was much larger than I originally thought, but you can hit the highlights and feel like you experienced it properly. It’s a great place to take in history in an outdoor setting for part of an afternoon.

During our visit, we did not pay extra for a guided tour. If you go the same route we did, I suggest purchasing an audio guide, so you understand what you’re seeing as you walk through the site. We purchased one audio guide, and shared it. It’s all we needed to make our visit worthwhile.

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There is a colosseum located in Pompeii as well. Although it’s much smaller than the famous amphitheatre in Rome, the same types of activities took place in Pompeii as well – gladiatorial battles and all.

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beautiful ruins

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Mount Vesuvius looming in the distance.

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inside an ancient merchants shop

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looking over the ruins

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a secret passageway perhaps?

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a different style of amphitheatre for different types of entrainment

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cost

A single adult ticket for Pompeii is valid for one day and will cost you € 13,00.

If you’re spending more than a day in the area, then you might want to consider these additional experiences and ticket options:

  • Herculaneum only (1 day) Full: € 11,00
  • The 3 sites: Oplontis, Stabiae, Boscoreale (1 day) Full: € 5,50
  • The 5 sites: Pompeii, Herculaneum , Oplontis, Stabiae*, Boscoreale (3 consecutive days, only one entrance/visit per site) Full: € 22,00

additional activities

We only had time for Pompeii, but from what I have read, Herculaneum is also a worthwhile site to visit and explore. Many people who visit the area also take a morning or afternoon and hike to the top of Mount Vesuvius. If time had allowed, this is certainly something we would have considered. Next time am I right?!

*All photos & opinions are my own.

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