Ruins in the Roman site of Pompeii, Campania, Italy.
Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson/© Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson
Witness the destruction wrought by Mt. Vesuvius nearly 2,000 year ago at the archaeological site of Pompeii. The ancient village was frozen in time beneath a blanket of hot ash during an eruption in 79 C.E. Among the ruins that have been uncovered are buildings that shed light on aspects of ancient life both grand and mundane, from the temples, the coliseum and homes with fine frescoes, to public baths, chariot-rutted streets and grain stores which now hold plaster casts of the people who perished that fateful day.
Take some time exploring Pompeii
Pompeii was partially destroyed and buried under 20 ft of ash in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Pompeii was lost for about 1500 years until its initial rediscovery in 1599 and it continues to be excavated. The beautiful frescos and mosaic tile floors are still visible in many areas. Pompeii is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and well worth a visit. Take some time to wander and explore as there is much to see. Grab a gelato at the onsite café. The train station is located just a short walk to Pompeii site. You can buy a guide from one of the many vendors along the way. Trains leave frequently from Sorrento and Naples.
Under the Volcano
The ancient city of Pompeii was founded in the 7th century B.C.E. Then in 79 C.E., Mt. Vesuvius erupted, and the large and busy commercial center was enveloped in stones and burning ash, creating what is today one of the world’s great archaeological sites. Highlights include the Forum, the Forum Baths, the celebrated House of the Faun, the Lunapare (brothel), the 20,000-seat amphitheater, the Villa dei Misteri, and the Temple of Apollo.
Climbing Mount Vesuvius
It’s been thousands of years since the now dormant volcano’s infamous eruption devastated the nearby cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, but the mountain’s looming presence is still felt in modern Naples and the remaining ruins of the former Roman metropolis. For those curious travelers with athletic prowess, a hike up Vesuvius can give you a new view on history. Various tour companies from Rome and Naples will easily take you to a well-maintained gravel pathway at the foot of Vesuvius, and up you go. After a relatively short climb, a huge crater — still slightly smoking, an unnerving sight — greets you at the top, where you can catch your breath while you overlook the blue waters of the Bay of Naples. On a clear day, you can see the island of Capri and the edge of the Amalfi Coast. When the volcano erupted, the mountain had been three times as tall and the devastation was that much more widespread. Standing at the summit, gazing down at the city that remains so close by, the Roman history of this place doesn’t feel so distant. Being on Vesuvius makes it easier to imagine what that day in 79 A.D. must have been like. If nothing else, the experience is certainly an eye-opener.
Lost Hope - Frozen In Time
One of the most erie things I have ever come across in my travels were the human casts from the remains of the Pompeii citizens. Looking at them one can only image the terror and complete helplessness they endured during the last minutes of their lives.
Backpackes, water bottles, cameras, iPods, groups of tourists and curious wanderers...streets once lost to time have come alive again
Lost Streets - Pompeii
I can only begin to imagine what these streets have witnessed throughout the ages!
The Lost Streets of Pompeii
Streets once lost to time come alive again
Pompeii, up close and personal
If you can afford it take a private tour. Our driver was Francesco and he was fabulous. He took us on a tour of the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. You will learn so much and he will do whatever you want to do. Totally customized. Then you can go back to the places you want to spend longer time on your own. He hooked us up with his friend Sasha for the Pompeii private tour. Sasha’s father was a guide there for 45 years and as a boy Sasha and his buddies used to play all over Pompeii after school. He was amazing and the depth of his knowledge is something you could never get on your own. It was a highlight.
Ruins in the Rain
By now, everyone should know the story of Pompeii. It is a village of incredible history and even more incredible espresso. But I’m assuming part of the reason we go to Italy is for the history and the espresso. I highly recommend visiting Pompeii on a rainy day as the crowds are minimal and the rain soaked ruins have a renewed aura about them. The (modern) town center is lovely for a stroll and an afternoon beer.
With Mt. Vesuvius looming over Pompeii, the volcano is quite majestic covered in clouds and the ancient village very peaceful.
Wandering the ancient streets of Pompeii
You have to know that when visiting Pompeii, it’s going to be crowded... it’s one of those places that everyone, including you, wants to see, so be prepared. Having said that though, it’s still totally worth seeing, and if you can drag yourself out of bed early and get there as the gates open, you will have a much less crowded visit and it will certainly be worth the effort.
Exploring the Shadow of Vesuvius
Walking the streets of Pompeii was one of the most fascinating excursions during my trip to Italy. Much of it is so well preserved that you can just imagine the people living out their lives in their homes, restaurants, amphitheaters, baths, markets, and brothels. You can feel the ruts in the street where the carts and chariots rolled by. And you can see the remains of the terrified people taking their last breaths. While in Pompeii I tried to put myself in the minds of the ancient people over 1900 years ago when their beautiful mountain began to shake and spew toxic gases and ash. But more than that, Pompeii allows one to glimpse how the lives of those Romans mirrored ours until they were tragically snuffed out.
Ruins at Pompeii
It was amazing to see so many artifacts and get a glimpse of what the ancient city looked like. This is an actual body that was preserved in ash from the volcano, at least that is what the guide told us
How can a place make you feel so sad for the agony faced in ancient times? Pompei does!
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