In case you’ve never heard of Pompeii, it is an ancient Roman city that was buried under ash when the volcano Vesuvius erupted in Naples, Italy in the year 79AD.
The site itself is massive – much bigger than we expected it to be and we didn’t make it round the whole thing because of the heat and the sheer size of it. You can see houses, shops, baths and the huge squares where the Romans would have chariot racing and other events. We also saw a colosseum which to this day is almost perfectly intact. I would recommend getting an audio set or a guided tour as we weren’t always clear what we were looking at, but we got the jist of it and it was still interesting to see.
Dotted around the site were various collections of artefacts that have been found over the years of excavation, ranging from pottery to carts to bodies covered with ash. I’m not sure if the ones on display are real or casts, as we did see the same dog pose twice.
Tip – If you are aged 18-24, take some form of ID because you can get entrance fee of only $2 compared to the full price of $17! We didn’t know this, and I obviously didn’t think to take my passport out sightseeing so we had to pay in full.
The climb up Mount Vesuvius:
This was one of the most challenging yet rewarding things I’ve ever done – climb up to the top of a volcano! We all looked up and thought ‘we cant do this’.
As you get out of the train station ‘Ercolano Scavi’ you are met with a ticket office selling trips up the volcano. This comprises of a coach trip as far as the road goes up (and back down), for €10 each, plus the entrance fee to climb up to the top using a guided path – another €10 each. This was well worth the money, and we were impressed by how organised the whole thing was. We were given stickers with our bus number on, and were told a time to be back for the bus to get taken back down the hill.
This was an hour and a half, which was plenty of time for us (a fairly unfit trio) to get up and back down again with time to spare to look at the tourist tat being sold up there.
The walk itself wasn’t too strenuous – but it wasn’t a walk in the park. There were steep climbs and uneven paths as you would expect, but we managed to make it to the top. We may have had to stop a few times on the way but that was okay as there were lots of lookout spots and benches. Safe to say we were pretty proud of ourselves for making it to the top.
From the top you can see the whole of Naples – even the giant cruise liners that we saw docked there the day before. Inside the volcano was an impressive sight. It obviously wasn’t spewing lava like you might first imagine, it was all soiled over and was growing trees and various other plants. There were people abseiling down the walls into the crater which looked a lot of fun – not that I’d be brave enough for it.
Overall I would definitely recommend both of these trips if you were to visit this area of Italy. Both really interesting and well worth the visit.
I just wanted to touch on another site we visited, which is Herculaneum. This is what they call a mini Pompeii, as it is a small Roman town that was also affected by the Vesuvius eruption in 79AD. This is just a 10 minute walk down the road from the ticket office of Vesuvius, and costs €11 to go in.
However, we didn’t actually go in and walk around it. We had had enough that day – after climbing up the volcano and a stressful lunch (which I won’t go into detail on, just avoid the restaurants on the walk to the site). To get to the ticket office for Herculaneum, you have to walk over a bridge that goes right over the top of the site. From here you can see the whole of it, and in my opinion it was a better view as you could see all the streets laid out. This was enough for us, and it was very similar to Pompeii just a much smaller scale.
I hope this has helped if you are looking to visiting any of these places. Let me know in the comments if you have been to any of these and what you thought, and any tips for anyone going!
Until next time.