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How to Tour Pompeii

Here are some of our don’t miss highlights, tips and secrets for how to tour Pompeii.

The ruins of Pompeii are one of the most extraordinary sites in Italy. It is visited by millions every year. We recommend going with a tour guide to fully experience the wonder and mysteries of this archeological treasure.

Located on what was then the Bay of Naples, Pompeii was once a busy port and important Roman city of about 20,000 people.  It contained more than 40 bakeries, 30 brothels, and 130 bars, restaurants, and hotels.

Getting There

It is very easy to get to Pompeii from Rome, Naples, the Amalfi Coast and points farther north in Tuscany and beyond.  From the main train station in Naples look for signs to the  Circumvesuviana.  The Circumvesuviana is a light rail train that goes directly to Pompeii. Trains runs roughly every half hours and the trip from Naples to Pompeii takes about 30 minutes. The train stop for the archeological site is Pompeii Scavi.

Must Have’s

It is most important that you have comfortable shoes to traverse the uneven cobblestones and a bottle for water that you can fill at the ancient fountains scattered throughout the site. A map of the area will help you plan your visit. Give yourself at least half a day to explore this once thriving city.

If you are in the Naples area for a few days, and planning on visiting a few museums and sites, consider buying the Campania ArteCard.  This combined ticket includes entrance to many archeological sites including  Pompeii, Herculaneum and Paestum in additional to museums and other historic sites.

Time Travel

Take a trip back to 79 AD with a visit to the ruined city of Pompeii.  The site is so well preserved and intact, it doesn’t take much imagination to envision the busy city that Pompeii once was.  Stand at the crossroads of the large, main thoroughfares and imagine wooden wheeled carts filled with goods clattering against the large cobblestones, market vendors shouting, dogs barking and children playing. When Vesuvius erupted on that August day, it covered the city of Pompeii in ash and preserved much of what daily life in a Roman city looked like. Find the Via dei Sepolcri and look for the ruts cut into the stone from the carts. Like Modern Rome and Naples graffitti was commonplace in Pompeii.  Look out for graffiti scrawled on buildings.  Some is witty, some is lovelorn, some is downright raunchy.  You will need to brush up on your Latin to get the jokes.

Must See’s

The Forum of Pompeii

This was the center of city life. This is where businesses, government buildings and important religious sites were located.

The House of the Tragic Poet 

This is where the famous mosaic that says Cave Canem  – Beware of the Dog – is located.

The Amphitheater

The Ampitheater in Pompeii is  150 years older than the Colosseum that stands in Rome. It is the earliest amphitheatre to survive anywhere in the world. It is on the very far edge of the park, so plan your visit so you don’t tire yourself out before you get there.

Gladiator Barracks

This is where the gladiators of Pompeii trained.  The structure probably served as housing as well. Bronze helmets, swords and shield have been recovered from this spot.

The Lupanare

Lupanare is the latin word for brothel.  This very popular Pompeii site is located about two blocks from the Forum. If you are traveling with small children  or your in-laws, it is good to know this spot is R rated.

Extra Credit

Read read about the  House of Mysteries and the Temple of Jupiter.

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By Priscila Siano (266 Posts)

Priscila Siano is the Marketing Director of Tour Italy Now, an online tour operator specializing in Italy travel. She's a respected expert on making dream Italy vacations a reality for clients.

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