Pompeii is a vast archaeological site in southern Italy’s Campania region, near the coast of the Bay of Naples. Once a thriving and sophisticated Roman city, Pompeii was buried under meters of ash and pumice after the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. The preserved site features excavated ruins of streets and houses that visitors can freely explore.
Pompeii was an ancient city located in what is now the comune of Pompei near Naples in the Campania region of Italy. Pompeii, along with Herculaneum and many villas in the surrounding area (e.g. at Boscoreale, Stabiae), was buried under 4 to 6 m (13 to 20 ft) of volcanic ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.
Largely preserved under the ash, the excavated city offered a unique snapshot of Roman life, frozen at the moment it was buried, and an extraordinarily detailed insight into the everyday life of its inhabitants, although much of the evidence was lost in the early excavations. It was a wealthy town, enjoying many fine public buildings and luxurious private houses with lavish decorations, furnishings and works of art which were the main attractions for the early excavators. Organic remains, including wooden objects and human bodies, were entombed in the ash. Over time, they decayed, leaving voids which archaeologists found could be used as moulds to make plaster casts of unique — and often gruesome — figures in their final moments of life. The numerous graffiti carved on the walls and inside rooms provide a wealth of examples of the largely lost Vulgar Latin spoken colloquially at the time, contrasting with the formal language of the classical writers.
Pompeii is a major stop and easy to reach from the major surrounding cities by train, car or even bus. Travel time by road (without traffic – which is rare on these roads) is around 2.5 hours from Rome to Pompeii, 30 mins from Naples to Pompeii, 45 minutes from Sorrento to Pompeii and 4.5 hours from Florence to Pompeii (which pretty much rules it out as a day trip from Florence).
If you’re planning on visiting Pompeii from Rome, perhaps the easiest option, is to book our Pompeii & Amalfi Day Trip from Rome, which includes a guided tour of Pompeii, a scenic drive along the Amalfi Coast and a stop in Positano. Independent travelers can book a transfer service, which is certainly the fastest option, although not the cheapest. The budget conscious will want to travel by train, which is largely easy to navigate and less expensive, although more time-consuming.
From Rome, take the train to Naples at the Napoli Centrale Station. The high-speed train, either Frecciarossa or Italo, takes about an hour and ten minutes each way. You can view train times and prices as well as book your tickets in advance on www.trenitalia.com. From Napoli Centrale, take the Circumvesuviana train, the old but reliable commuter train of Campania, on the Napoli-Sorrento Circumvesuviana line. The Circumvesuviana runs trains about every half hour and it takes about 30 minutes to arrive at your Pompeii stop, Pompeii Scavi – Villa dei Misteri.
From Sorrento or Naples, you’ll simply take the Napoli-Sorrento Circumvesuviana line to the Pompeii Scavi – Villa dei Misteri stop. Once again, it’s about a 30 minute train ride from each city. The Circumvesuviana trains are often very crowded and you might find standing room only. For more information about the Circumvesuviana train schedule and prices, view this website.
If you’d like to get a better view of the Almafi Coast (albeit a rocky, potentially crowded, view) take the SITA bus from Piazza Esedra in Naples or from the Sorrento train station. One or two busses run per hour and stop at all the major towns along the coast, including Pompei (the modern day town, as opposed to Pompeii the archaeological site). A ticket costs 2.80 euro and the trip takes about 40 minutes. Check out the SITA website for more information and bus time tables (in Italian).