As soon as it was decided that Mr ESLT and I were going to travel to Sorrento in Southern Italy I knew straight away I wanted to visit Pompeii. I don’t remember learning about it at a school but the city has always been of interest to me through TV shows/films I had seen about it. The fact that we were staying under an hour away sealed the deal – we were going to see it! (Check out the hotel we stayed at here). I, maybe like others, had always been under the impression that when Mt Vesuvius erupted (8km away) all those years ago (it was actually 24th August 79AD) Pompeii had been covered in the lava which had spilled out from the volcano. WRONG! The first thing I learnt was that in fact it was ash and pumice that covered the city which was home to approximately 11,000 – 11,500 people at the time.
It wasn’t under the 16th century that the city was rediscovered but it wasn’t until 1748 that exploration of the site began by order of the King of Naples Charles III of Bourbon. Excavation continued until the nineteenth century. Even when we visited recently certain parts of the city are closed due to continual restoration work. Pompeii was originally a port town on the Sarno River but now following the eruption it now stands on a spur formed by the lava inland.
Pompeii is one of Italy’s most famous tourist destinations with over 2.5 million people visiting every year and is located 24km from Naples and 26km from Sorrento (where we were staying). It obtained UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. We took an organised trip from our hotel with Acampora Travel. We had a great tour guide called Ugo. The cost per adult was £39.50 (this also included transport to Mt Vesuvius later in the day – post to follow). This did not include the entrance fee (€11) which you have to pay on arrival as the money goes directly to the Italian government.
The cost of the excursion also included audio guide which allowed us to listen to Ugo as we wandered around the ruins – within a limited distance of course. This gave us the freedom to snap pictures at our leisure whilst still listening to the information Ugo was giving us about each building/street/structure etc. I personally recommend an audio tour because the site is so big (66 ha, of which approximately 45 ha has been excavated) that I’m sure many people have got lost and/or not really understood what it is that they are looking at(?). If you do decide to go it on your own don’t forget to pick up a guide and map from the entrance.
Pompeii is amazing. The ruins of this city which was lost almost 2,000 years ago are a sight to behold. Because structures, artefacts and bodies were so well-preserved it has given archaeologists and historians the ability to determine what each building was and how the Roman’s lived at the time. A great morning well spent with our camera. There are a few restaurants and of course the obligatory souvenir stalls just outside the old city walls if you want to grab lunch or a reminder of your day.
If you decide to visit Pompeii don’t forget to wear sensible shoes and take a bottle of water with. Also, if the weather is great, like it was when we visited I’d advise a hat and sunscreen too as there isn’t much shelter from the hot Italian sun.