Sometimes you write stuff and you never know if anyone is reading it. Well, sports fans it seems some of you liked my Rome, Italy tips and I promised a follow up post about my trip to Pompeii. I apologized it’s taken me so long as I have traveled to London (2x) India (2x) and Haiti since I wrote my last post on Rome. But here it goes: let’s go to the oldest city still standing beautiful Pompeii.
So I was in Rome for 14 days and while Rome is fabulous you can overdose on all the arts and culture. So I figured a day trip would be just the thing. I thought about going to Florence but then I thought, I’d want to spend the night and what would I do there and where would I go and how would I get around and after thinking I thought not for me this time. But then I saw some advertisements for Pompeii and thought, “That’s perfect.” Rome is about 150 miles from Pompeii. It’s a city turned into a museum so you can spend the whole day there in an enclosed exhibit but still not see everything.
Getting to Pompeii Can Be A Tourist Trap
After my bright idea I started hunted immediately for day tours to Pompeii. I was shocked. It seemed like a pretty cheap date but the prices for the tours were outrageous. Tour operators were charging from $130 to $300. Many folks recommend the train but I have some cautionary tales about that too.
For the more adventurous travelers you can get to Pompeii by using one of Italy’s ubiquitous across Europe trains. The train station at Stazi Termini is huge and busy and awesome. But the train doesn’t actually stop in Pompeii it stops in Naples and you have to get from Naples to Pompeii by another train, the distance isn’t far but hey who needs all that navigation head ache? (For you train lovers see this blog about going to Pompeii by train it’s cool.) Tips about Europe’s Rail System
The Eurorail is world famous – I mean how many people you know who backpacked around Europe in their youth and got around thanks to its wonderful train system. Well think about those people and what they looked and smelled like. Unless you want to sit next to them you’ll be buying a more expensive ticket than Eurorail’s rock bottom price. Without a Euro rail pass (which can cost about 120 Euros for a one-country Italy pass) you could end up paying more than a $100 bucks a person for the train provided that you want to get on a train that actually gets there (high speed) and you want to sit in an area that won’t make you break out in hives (a good class). Europe’s trains have different prices based upon service class just like airlines and though the cheaper ticket may be tempting I always opt for the next to highest class. So when people say “Go by train,” check the fine print. (End tip.)
I thought about renting a car but I travel by myself so I’m always leery of those “private car,” tours offered abroad. Just me and some guy I don’t know who probably doesn’t speak my language doesn’t sound too fun. Then I stumbled upon a find. Enjoy Rome.
Pompeii Trip By Bus
Enjoy Rome is located in a quaint two-room office on via Marghera which is just a block up from the huge Stazi Termini. For 60 euros ($77) bucks, I got an air-conditioned tour bus half filled and a personal tour guide in Fabio. (Yes that’s his name.) Fabio was an English-speaking architectural student who told us all about Pompeii on our way up there. I have to admit I hogged him – I’m a journalist – and asked him hundreds of questions and he patiently answered all of them. It was so cool to take this trip to Pompeii with him. His insight was invaluable and it made the trip more real. Enjoy Rome was definitely a good choice I think in that I got a day trip to Pompeii, a stop for lunch and a quite, relaxing and air-conditioned journey back home for cheapo. Nice!
More than a Day in Pompeii
As I said before I avoid guided tours like the plague but I have to admit taking one in Pompeii might be worth it. Might be. It’s only 10 Euros and the place is so freakin’ big wandering on your own could take up valuable time. On the other hand the Pompeii residents were very big on navigation so getting around the city is easy. The streets are named and everything. 🙂 But here’s a tip – you won’t see Pompeii all in one day. It’s just too big. It was a metropolis for God’s sake so don’t think you will see all there is to see. But here are some tour highlights that you want to make sure you get to (this is not an exhaustive list for a better spot by spot description. For that check out the excellent Cole Family website. It’s wonderful.
1. The Temple of Apollo. A beautiful spacious royal area fit for a king. The Romans were famous for their royal accouterments and adornments on everything from clothes to houses and this 1st century Roman space is a good example. This phrase is going to be a broken record but…you have to see it to believe its beauty.
2. The Baker’s Sanctuary. Bakeries were popular in ancient Roam as wheat was plentiful. But it’s just wild seeing a bakery from the 1st Century. I mean really just fascinating and this spot on the tour shows how magnificent Pompeii is. It’s a perfectly preserved piece of history and culture. You don’t find those often and when you see one up close you can’t help but feel awed.
3.Petrified Tragedy It would be easy to forget that Pompeii is a wondrous architectural and historical find it were not for the fact that it’s really an urban above-ground graveyard. When Mt. Vesuvius let ‘er rip it belched death all over this city of 20,000 killing 10 percent of its population. The displays of the perfectly preserved corpses in various stages of terror remind you of the tragedy that occurred that day in August in the year 79 A.D. This picture depicts a pregnant woman.
4. The Streets of Pompeii
One of the things I noticed about this city was how beautifully arranged it was. The streets look about the same as streets do today without the asphalt. They have streets going east/west and north/south with central intersections and address markings on the homes. It’s uncanny the futuristic geographic layout of the town. Basically, we haven’t progress very much when it comes to city building.