A day trip to the ruins of Pompeii from Naples
May 23, 2019
by Laura Scapin
Pompeii is one of the most important and famous part of Italy’s history. The city is situated at the bottom of the Italian volcano which is called Vesuvius (Vesuvio in Italian). Nowadays Pompeii is divided into two parts: the ancient one is the ruins after the eruption, while the modern one is placed under the hill.
In the past Pompeii was one of the ancients cities of the state. It was big and rich, thanks to the trade with the Greeks, but the volcano erupted and covered all the city with its inhabitants. It was a shock for the people who lived in the city because they didn’t know that “Mount Vesuvio” was a volcano. The experts found a letter of a merchant in which he describes very well the disaster and the days after it. Lava and ashes covered all the places around the volcano, included Pompeii, and a lot of people died in their houses. The experts started to digged out the ancient ruins of the city which were buried that day. All the things, houses, bodies.. everything has remained the same as in the past. Hence, the museum of Pompeii ruins is literally the old city which has been excavated, and to see them you have to walk among the streets of the city: it’s like a huge archaeological outdoor site.
There are people that are constantly working to discover new pieces of the city under the rubbles, for this reason, every year there are news and particular expositions in the two little museums inside the ancient city. For instance, the last year (2018) was found an inscription in charcoal which dates the event on 24 of October of 79 a.d., two months after what we believed until then.
How to get to the ruins of Pompeii from Naples by train
I went there during my trip to Naples. Pompeii is just 40 km from there so I take the train from the central station which in Italian is called: Circumvesuviana Napoli – Sorrento. The easiest way to get to Pompeii is the train cause you have just to go to the central station and that’s it. The bus is always late and I strongly advise against drive in Naples: they are crazy, there is no parking and you risk to bruise the car every time. There is a train every half hour. The train is very old but the positive side of this is the view from the windows during the travel. To go to Pompei you have to get off the train at the stop called Pompei villa dei misteri.
Tickets: how much they cost and where to buy them
At this point, I walked for 5 minutes and I arrived at the main entrance of Pompeii: Piazza Anfiteatro. There are three entrances to the ancient part of Pompei ( Piazza Anfiteatro, Porta Marina, Piazza Esedra), and there you can buy the ticket to start the visit. I arrived there at 10.00 and there was not the queue, by the way, they are very fast and you don’t have to wait a lot like in Naples for example. The ticket costs 15 euros and if there is a lot of people at the ticket office, I suggest you buy the ticket online (on the official website), or to buy it in the little shop next to the train stop. For me was simple cause I am Italian, but if you want to do it just make sure that the price is the same. In that way, you can avoid the first part of the queue. I suggest to check if the ruins are open during the period in which you want to visit them, you have just to check the timetable on the web site.
The visit to the ruins
Once you start the visit they give you a map of the city and I found it very useful cause it’s a labyrinth and there are a lot of things to see. When you walk you can see some maps which show how was Pompeii before the disaster. In some places, the experts rebuild gardens or spa, and you can still see some mosaics that were a kind of banners which represent what the place was used for in that past. Here you have to pay attention cause these places are not always open, and you have to check the timetable on the main map or in front of every single “house”. I sincerely recommended it because I didn’t know it and I discovered the timetable just in the afternoon and I could not able to see some part of Pompeii. Every year there are new opening or re-opening (after restoration work). In addition, there is the possibility to do a guided tour but you have to book it in advance.
There are also two amphitheatres which are connected to each other, and next to the biggest square called Foro di Pompei ( in front of the temple) there is a collection of all the things which the experts collected during the archaeological digs. When I went there the last October, in 2018, I was not able to visit all the city caused by the open building sites. It will take years to uncover it, so if you go there don’t worry.
After all, there are two little museums. The first one near the entrance called Piazza Anfiteatro, in which there are the reproductions of the people’s bodies that were found during the archaeological dig. The experts did a chalk model from the halls founded in their research. These models represent the last people’s position when the Vesuvio erupted. They were stuck into the magma and created little halls. My mum said that It is a little bit creepy, but I found them very interesting and unique. The second one it’s situated on the opposite side of the city and shows other vases, coins, necklaces of the ancients inhabitants.
What to do after the visit
All the visit take all of my morning and half of my afternoon. After that I wanted to see the top of the volcano, in fact, there is a bus, outside of the entrance, which takes you to the visit. It was too windy that day and the guide decided to cancel the ride. Fortunately, we asked directly to the guide about the trip before to buy the bus tickets cause they are not refundable. We met a couple there who told us it was the second day that they were trying to get to the top. They bought tickets without knowing it and they cost like 15 euros ( the same price to visit Pompei, a little bit expensive in my opinion). For this reason, we went to visit Sorrento. We just take the same train of the morning in the same direction until the last stop. It took like 20 minutes to get there, and if the weather is not the best to do other visits Sorrento is worthy. It’s a city in front of the sea where you can find the best lemons that you ever tried. We had dinner there: fish of the day with fresh tomatoes (grows in the volcanic land) and lemon. But this is another story.