Traveling from Rome to Pompeii in Italy will soon be much easier—and a lot faster.
The Italian government recently announced it is constructing a high-speed train that will link the capital to the city that was buried by volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius in 79 C.E. and has since become an archaeological park.
There are currently no direct rail routes linking the two popular tourism destinations—travelers need to first take a train from Rome to Naples, just over an hour away, and then navigate the crowds at the Napoli Centrale train station to transfer to a regional train called the Circumvesuviana, bound for Pompeii. That train from Naples to Pompeii is known for being old and slow, with stops in several small towns along the way. The whole journey takes roughly two hours.
“The Roma-Pompeii line is going to be a total game changer. Door-to-door Roma-Pompeii and back with comfort, efficiency, and no worries,” says Erica Firpo, an AFAR contributor based in Rome. She adds, “In peak tourist season, the Roma-Pompeii day trip feels like an infernal eternity—shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, standing room only on the Circumvesuviana, and ancient ventilation. Repeat for the return.” Firpo recently experienced a train delay on the clunky rail route that required “a frenetic run through Napoli Centrale to make my connection.”
The venture includes the addition of a new train station and transportation hub near Pompeii; construction is scheduled to start this summer and conclude in 2024, though an exact completion date has yet to be announced. It will be built on an existing railroad line that connects Rome (and its Fiumicino Airport) to Naples and Salerno. It’s being funded by the Great Pompeii Project, an initiative spearheaded by the European Union in 2021.
Laura Itzkowitz, another AFAR writer based in Rome, says that while the streamlined service would definitely make it easier for people visiting Rome to a take a day trip to Pompeii, she “worries about overtourism, which already plagues the nearby Amalfi Coast and could harm the fragile archaeological site.”
Rome-based archaeologist Darius Arya tells AFAR that because Pompeii is the most famous archaeologicial site in the world, he’d argue it doesn’t need more tourists—and it could mean that countless people will now skip Naples and other Vesuvian cities like Herculaneum and Stabiae.
“That said, I think Pompeii’s current administration is up to the task,” Arya says. “Along with making Pompeii more accessible than ever with more of the site open, Pompeii has become a model site for site management, presentation and preservation, with more constant conservation work that is visible and tangible.”
Just shy of 3 million people visited Pompeii in 2022. The most visitors in a single year were 3.8 million people in 2019. According to the Italian newspaper Il Mattino, the new train could double the number of tourists who visit each day.
Those who visit Pompeii get to see a city frozen nearly 2,000 years in the past, including its frescoed villas, bathhouses, markets, theaters, brothels, and temples. The site is open to self-guided tours or those led by freelance guides (available on request from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Excavations of the ancient city began in 1748. Even today, roughly one-third of the former metropolis is still buried.