Ancient History Buffs visiting Italy will of course be adding Pompeii to their list of things to do, with good reason, it's really something.
For my dissertation I focused on Pompeii, the topic, well, let's just say it brings smiles and giggles to everyone once told (think phallic imagery, more on this later). So I thought as I have been a few times, I have a few tips that will ensure you make the most out of your day.
1. Getting There?
This is quite simple, especially if you are travelling from Rome, Naples and Sorrento.
-Take the High Speed Frecciarossa Napoli Train from the Termini Stazione in Rome, they go roughly every hour and cost 10 euros. Takes around 70 minutes so make sure you get an early train.
- Once in Naples, buy a ticket for the Circumvesuviana Line, costing €4-5 each way. Trains run twice an hour.
- Takes around 25 minutes, the train stop is Pompeii Scavi, it's 100 metres up the hill from the entrance to Pompeii.
2. What to take with you?
- A water bottle or two. You will get ridiculously thirsty as temperatures can soar to the late 30's in the Summer and with the same public water fountains in use, be rude not to fill up, ancient style.
- Sun lotion, hat, and a cardigan to cover up, shade is lacking in Pompeii, learn from my mistake, the lobster look and sun stroke on a holiday is just a no go.
- Please for the love of all things holy, take comfortable trainers. It's a seriously long day, especially if you are commuting. The roads are cobblestones of sorts, the pavements are super high, I tripped up many times, if you're slightly clumsy, this place is trip hazard.
- Air on the small side for a backpack. The security is tight in Pompeii as they do not trust tourists with huge bags. So pack the essentials and leave everything else at the hotel.
- Snacks or food, there is a restaurant in the grounds and a couple outside the entrance.
3. To Tour or not to Tour?
- 100% get yourself on a tour! Pompeii is huge and the tourist information is non-existent so a knowledgeable guide will be your saving grace. Do not waste your money on the audio guides, they are confusing, frustrating and in a nutshell, useless.
4. Points of Interest
- Phallic Imagery is everywhere in Pompeii, you just have to look for it. At cross roads, above doorways, on windchimes, statues, paintings, etc. Phalli warded evil spirits away and served as protective symbols, much like the all seeing eye is today. I find this part of Pompeii fascinating. (If you want to know more, I'll send you my dissertation to read. Just email me)
- Villa of Mysteries has a room full of beautiful frescoes. Scholars argue to this day about their meaning, it is believed to show a young woman's initiation into a cult; go see for yourself and make your own conclusions.
- If you can, check out Mary Beard's Pompeii! I love this book, she brings it all to life. Or if you're not the reading type, check out her BBC documentary to give you some background before you go.