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Visiting the Ruins of Pompeii, Italy
Explore Pompeii with a self guided tourExplore one of the world’s best-preserved archaeological sites
The ghostly ruins of ancient Pompeii make for one of the world's most engrossing archaeological experiences. Few archeological sites offer a more immersive travel experience than the excavated ruins of Pompeii southeast of Naples, Italy. In 79 A.D., the volcano Vesuvius erupted, covering the Roman City with 12 meters (40 feet) of fine ash, which preserved the buried city and its asphyxiated residents intact for nearly 1700 years. Much of the site's value lies in the fact that the town wasn't simply blown away by Vesuvius in AD 79 but buried under a layer of lapilli (burning fragments of pumice stone). The result is a remarkably well-preserved slice of ancient life, where visitors can walk down Roman streets and snoop around millennia-old houses, temples, intricate details about the everyday lives of Pompeii’s doomed inhabitants, shops, cafes, amphitheatres and even a brothel.
Pompeii Sites - must see sites
The archaeological ruins of Pompeii covers about 440000 square meters, really a vast area that would take, even an expert tour guide, at least two full days to explore it completely. So before starting your visit to Pompeii, you can easily take a note about the most famous sites you must see, that will give you an idea of what daily life was like in this old Roman city. Among the many squares, temples, private villas, and thermal baths, here following we suggest few sites that you should absolutely include during your visit to the Pompeii excavations.
1. Villa of the Mysteries
Villa dei Misteri (Villa of the Mysteries) is one of the most captivating and mysterious in the entire ruins, and probably belonged to the Istacidii family, one of the most powerful in Pompeii during the reign of Augustus.
2. Garden of the Fugitives - Plaster Casts
The Orto dei Fuggiaschi (Garden of the Fugitives) was an old quarter of the city that has been converted to vineyards as Pompeii grew. The name is an homage to the bodies of 13 victims of the eruption in 79 AD who were trying to escape through Porta Nocera before succumbing to the ashes and stone. Their remains where discovered during excavations in 1961-62 and 1973-74, using plaster casting methods.
3. Large Theater and Odeon
Pompeii's two theaters are located in the same area of the ancient city. The Teatro Grande (Large Theater) is an open-air amphitheater where Greek-Roman plays were performed; the smaller Odeon was used for poetry and musical performances, which required a smaller and covered space for the best acoustics.
The old Pompeii Amphitheater was the place where people would go to watch battles and games, and it's the oldest surviving Roman amphitheater.
5. House of the Faun
The Casa del Fauno (House of the Faun) is one of the most spectacular and largest houses in Pompeii, covering around 3,000 square meters. This is the biggest and most majestic house in Pompeii, and it shows great examples of how a house would have been set up architecturally. It´s worth to take a look in the backyard to see statues, frescoes, and mosaics showing a battle scene.
6. Pompeii Thermal Baths
The "thermae" were the city's public baths. There were relatively few private baths and these were limited to the most well-to-do families. The thermal bath buildings were divided into two sections: one reserved for women and one reserved for men. Each of these contained a series of rooms with different functions: apodyterium, frigidarium, tedidarium, calidarium.
7. Forum of Pompeii
The Forum is near the entrance of Pompeii. The Forum was the political, commercial, and social center for the old city. There are lots of relics to see at this site, and it's located right near the main entrance at Porta Marina
The lupanare (lupanar) is one of the most memorable sites within the ruins of Pompeii. The city's brothel was on two levels, with five small cells on the ground floor and five upstairs. Each cell had a stone bed that was topped with a mat or cushion, and above the door of each cell was an erotic fresco that probably depicted the specialization of the prostitute that worked in each individual cell.
How to get to Pompeii Ruins
Where are the Pompeii ruins?
The world famous Pompeii is 240 km south of Rome, fairly close to Naples, Sorrento and Amalfi Coast. It is a long day from Rome by train or an easy excursion from Naples or the very popular holiday area around Sorrento and Amalfi Coast.
Getting to Pompeii from Naples
The train is the easiest mode of transportation when it comes to traveling from Naples to Pompeii. Once you arrive at the main station in Naples (Stazione Centrale), you'll want to look for the Circumvesuviana train, as this is the one that will take you right to Pompeii. The train takes about 35 minutes and you'll get off at your stop "Pompei Scavi/Villa dei Misteri". Few minutes away from the train station you'll find the main entrance to Pompeii ruins.
You can also take the SITA bus from Naples to Pompeii.
Getting to Pompeii from Sorrento
There are 2 ways to go to Pompeii ruins from Sorrento:
1. Taking the Circumvesuviana train which runs from Sorrento to Naples, and in about 20 minutes you'll arrive at Pompeii stop "Pompei Scavi/Villa dei Misteri". The main entrance to the archaeological site is right across from the Circumvesuviana station. Fare is around €3 each way.
2. The second option is to get a taxi. It costs about 70 euros. Not cheap but surely comfortable.
Getting to Pompeii from Amalfi Coast
- Getting to Pompeii from Amalfi Coast is relatively easy, it will take 1-2 hours depending where you stay on the coast:
- From Amalfi: there is no train to Pompeii, instead, there is a direct tourist bus. The bus fare is €12 each way, or €20 round trip and the bus takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to get from Amalfi to Pompeii.
- From Positano: the easiest way is to get a bus to Sorrento first and the the Circumvesuviana train to Pompeii. Instead the fastest way is to take a bus from Positano to Meta (35 minutes) and then the Circumvesuviana train to Pompeii Scavi (20 minutes).
- From other cities on the coast: you will have to first take a bus or ferry to one of the other main cities, then transfer to Pompeii.
Getting to Pompeii from Salerno
Getting to Pompeii from Salerno, you have to know that there is also a direct train. However, it arrives in Pompeii in a different station than the train from Sorrento or Naples (Circumvesuviana). This train is operated by Trenitalia, which is the Italian national train operator. The train takes 42 minutes each way. After you arrive at Pompei Railway Station, the eastern entrance to Pompeii ruins is 10 minutes walk away. Please note that the entrance is not the main entrance "Porta Marina" mentioned above.