Pompeii

Picture of tombs We'll start the Pompeii page with a note about getting there. Personally we didn't have a problem with this although a lot of other travelers we talked to did seem to have issues. We arrived by car, turned away from the main entrance and drove down the street parallel to the ruins towards the coliseum entrance. There is metered parking all along this street and I believe it was around 4 Euros to cover most of the day. There are guides around trying to sell their services. We had two separate references to the ruins (plus the map they give out is actually pretty good), so we didn't want a guide. We can say they are very expensive. Prohibitively expensive for two or three people to bother with. These by the way are Roman tombs of prominent families.
Picture of bodies Somewhere out in the vast residential areas of Pompeii is a house with a small garden that has become a sort of museum for the preserved bodies of unlucky residents of Pompeii from 79 AD. For the sake of completeness we should mention that Vesuvius erupted in that year and buried Pompeii in volcanic ash. That has led to the well-preserved state of Pompeii today, and also that of many of the bodies found here. It's rather morbid but tends to be a mandatory stop on the Pompeii tour.
Picture of residence The residential area of Pompeii is a huge grid of streets and alleys. There's no particular logic to which homes you can wander through and while it does take a lot of time to see the city, it's worth setting some of that aside to wander through the back streets where there are no marquis sites to see.
Picture of vault The best of the mosaics and paintings from Pompeii are in the Archeological Museum of Naples (see the Naples page) and they really truly are spectacular. There is enough of the original painting and decoration in these homes though to give one the sense of what it would've been like at the time.
Picture of theater Pompeii had two theaters, this is the larger one viewed from the public area between them.
Picture of colonnade This colonnade is where one would've walked before and after any event at one of the theaters. Or purchased refreshments for that matter. Over the far wall a bit of modern Pompeii can be seen. The presence of the gigantic and somewhat ominous ruined city has not deterred modern Pompeii from building even higher up the slopes of Vesuvius.
Picture of pompeii_street Pompeii's main streets are remarkably intact and several of them run the length of the city. In the distance are the snow capped peaks to the east of the Monti Picentini.
Picture of downtown_pompeii Vesuvius still towers over the ruins of Pompeii. It was covered in mist and clouds during much of our visit but periodically it would clear and then the peak was always visible to the north. Before the eruption, Vesuvius was two to three times its current height. This is the central square of old Pompeii, surrounded mostly by temples and civic buildings.
Picture of baths The baths are one of the more impressive complexes in Pompeii with their vaulted ceilings. As with most Roman baths there were cold, warm and hot pools available.
Picture of thermopolium Thermopoli like this one can be seen throughout Pompeii. They are basically street food stalls and the marble counters have generally survived intact. Romans in Pompeii tended to eat lunch away from home at places like this one. The owner of the Thermopolium would have vats containing stews and other dishes placed in each of the opening. The vats would be heated from underneath (if appropriate).
Picture of towards_vesuvius The streets were sunken in Pompeii to allow for water, manure and any other sort of run off to remain out of the way of pedestrians. Intersections had stepping-stone style crossings which wagons could pass over. There are wagon barriers entering the central parts of the city where they were not allowed. In the distance more of the modern suburbs of Naples are visible right on the slopes of Vesuvius.
Picture of brothel Pompeii had several brothels like all Roman towns at the time. The best preserved one is perhaps the most crowded single spot in the ruins. Each room had a picture above it depicting the services offered within. They really aren't all that racy but they've become a major attraction.
Picture of wall_painting As mentioned earlier, many of the best of the decorative arts at Pompeii have moved to Naples. Some of those have been recreated at their original location as well. A few originals still remain on site in the antique city.
Picture of colosseum Pompeii also had a coliseum of course. It's not all that impressive compared to others around Italy and Europe. If you don't come into Pompeii on the coliseum side of the city it may not be worth wandering all the way down to see it.
Picture of unesco

Back to Trips