Time to Visit: April to October
Admission Fee: â‚¬11
How to Reach: Reach either Naples or Sorrento. It takes around 30 minutes to come to Pompeii from these places.
From Rome, you can take a ‘Rapido’ train to Naples. It takes about three hours from the central station in Rome to Piazza Garibaldi, the central train station in Naples. To reach Pompeii, buy a ticket for the Circumvesuviana train at the Piazza Garibaldi, and go downstairs from where the Pompeii bound trains leave. The half an hour ride is fascinating, as you can catch great glimpses of Mt. Vesuvius on the way. Get off at the Pompei Scavi railway station, also known as the ‘Villa dei Misteri’. Buy your tickets and grab your guidebooks for the ruins from just outside the station. You can also enter the ruins from the Porta Marina, and then you may have to take a brief walk from the station.
You can hire a car from Rome to reach Pompeii, but make sure you do not lose your way in the intricate web of Roman roads. It will be a terrible waste of time, although some welcome it as the most authentic way to get a feel of this great nation.
Nearest Railway Station
Nearest International Airport: Naples International Airport
Time required for sightseeing: 3-5 hours
On 24th August, 79 BC, time stood still in the Roman city of Pompeii. It was the day after the citizens of the city came together to celebrate a feast in honor of Vulcan, the god of subterranean fire. Little did the celebrants know that the wrath of God would descend to destroy the entire city a day later – burying it in its entirety – with its mighty villas, paved roads and proud citizens under thirty feet of molten mud, rock and ash flowing from an angry Vesuvius. The few who could escape: escaped. Others remained framed in time — in attitudes of veritable terror — for well over a millennium, till the site was rediscovered in the 19th century. The sense of history and mystic tranquility that the ruins of Pompeii evoke among modern travelers is past compare. These are the ruins of a city that never faced decay — just got destroyed.
Wander through the legendary ancient city of Pompeii and experience its mysteries and charms. Every monument, building, temple, theatre and nook and corner of this ancient ruined city is like a moving museum which brings to light the rich culture and heritage of the ancient Roman Empire. Travel through the lanes and by-lanes of this lost city and experience the thrill and charm.
Pompeii is a partially buried and ruined city located in the region between Naples and Caserta. The place is a part of the Campania region. In fact, it was the fertile plains of Campania which led to the growth of such a rich and culturally strong civilization. In the ancient periods, the region was so fertile that it would yield three-grain crops annually.
The first settlers in Pompeii were prehistoric hunters. The first civilization in the area took place more or less in the 8th century when a group of Italic people known as the Oscans settled in the region. Greek settlements in the region soon made it a well-known merchant city which was also culturally strong. The Roman influence did not create much impact on Pompeii as the city was allowed to retain its own language and culture; only the inhabitants were told to take Roman citizenship.
Pompeii was buried in many meters of ash and pumice and remained buried for around 1700 years. It was discovered in the year 1748. Since its discovery, excavation has provided a deep insight into the life of this ancient city. Pompeii has been listed among the World Heritage Sites by the UNESCO and is now a popular tourist site. Around 2,000,000 tourists come here annually.
Traveling through the ruins of Pompeii brings a chill in your spine. The beautiful buildings, frescos, and other monuments bring to light the scenes of the when it was booming with life and soul. Archaeological excavations have led to the discovery of unique remains like animal bone, pottery shards, and plants. The excavated remains provide a picture of Roman life from the 1st century to 8th century. Some of the sites like the Forum, the baths, out-of-town villas like the Villa of the Mysteries are still in a good condition.
The remains of the city in fact point to the smallest details of daily life. Some of the well-known remains that you can visit are the amphitheater, Palaestra with a central swimming pool, public baths, and private houses. According to historians and scholars, the amphitheater is a great example of a sophisticated Roman design.
Some of the other famous specimens in Pompeii like the Macellum or the great food market, the Pistrinum, the Thermopolium, and coupons or restaurants. Remains of a hotel were also excavated a few meters from the city. Another significant discovery was made in the year 2002 when a port was excavated at the mouth of the Sarno River. A macabre touch to the scenario is added by the exhibits of the Garden of Fugitives. Authentic plaster casts of citizens and animals, at the very dying moments of their lives, in attempts to hide from the fast-flowing eruptions of the Vesuvius are truthfully preserved.
Since its discovery, Pompeii has evoked immense interest among people and it has featured in a wide range of literature and popular culture. The city was the background of various historical novels like The Last Days of Pompeii by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Arria Marcella by Theophile Gautier and Pompeii by Robert Harris. The city has also featured in a wide range of serials and documentaries.
Where to Stay
Usually, most tourists undertake Pompeii as a day trip. It takes about two to four hours to explore the ruins, and you can return to Naples taking the return train. However, if you want to stay back, there are a number of wonderful hotels near the Circumvesuviana station. Hotel Diana Pompei, Albergo Pace Pompei, Hotel Iside, and Palma Hotel are some of the most popular ones.
Where to Eat
The ruins of Pompeii include an ancient public eating house, close to the Roman Baths. It was something equivalent to the modern-day fast food center in Pompeii. The upper-class citizens of Pompeii loved to grab a bite there. You can still taste some of the authentic dishes from Pompeii, like the swallow’s tongue, at restaurants located just outside the ruins and around the business center. Cooking is not allowed inside the actual ruins.
Ask anyone for directions to the restaurants and they will point them out for you. The restaurants sell traditional Pompeii delicacies made of fresh fruits, beans, fish and grains, and sharp vinegar. You can also treat yourself to the more usual Italian fares like pizzas and seafood pasta. The food, like anywhere else in Italy, is delicious and the rates are great too.
There are a number of extremely moving travelers’ accounts of Pompeii. There are also a number of videos that capture the magic of Pompeii very truthfully. We provide you some of the links that might interest you:
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=rP5hpagWDzs: A wonderful audio-visual overview of a Pompeii tour. For great views of some of the most amazing ruins from this ancient Italian city and the extant artifacts, watch this video.
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=ze0OUEuaSYw&feature=related: View the plaster casts of the dead ancients in Pompeii by clicking on this link. Rather grim and definitely not for the weak hearted though, but a great reminder to the transience of human existence.
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=cCuKVbUkrKU&feature=related: To see some of the best erotic frescoes in Pompeii, watch this video. The frescoes bear testimony to the Dionysian affiliations of the inhabitants of Pompeii.
http://www.travelblog.org/Europe/Italy/Campania/Pompei/blogs-page-1.html: Do you want to read some first-hand experiences from travelers to Pompeii? Go to this site, you will find a wealth of information devoted to Pompeii travel.
http://www.travelblog.org/Europe/Italy/Campania/Pompei/: Great blog site with lots of pictures. Learn things you will not find elsewhere, and view some great photographs as well.