Pompeii is probably one of the many well-known cities of Italy, due in very large part to the amazing ruins that lie at the base of Mount Vesuvius. The ruins are quite easy to get too, I stayed in Naples and the journey was about 45 minutes by train. However, I recommend planning a full day at Pompeii because getting in can take a while, and there is so much to explore. I ended up staying in the ruins for almost five hours just walking all around the ancient city. Tickets to get in are €13 for full price, but if you’re an EU citizen between the ages of 18-25 or a teacher in an EU country you can get a reduced ticket for €7.50, people under the age of 18 get in free. Additionally, you can take a guided tour for a fee, which allows you to skip lines getting in, or you can get a self-guided audio tour, which will cost €6.50 if purchasing alone and €5 each if purchasing two or more. I opted for the audio guide so I could explore at my own pace and see only the things I wanted to. While you could forgo both options, I would recommend having some kind of a guide, as there are very few places within the ruins that explain the history of specific areas.
My first impression of the ruins was how well preserved everything is. While many of the original artifacts and statues are now in a museum in Naples, the pieces that remain are still extremely stunning. It was also great to see how most of the artwork of the time managed to survive and can still be appreciated today.
My favorite parts of Pompeii were probably the Anfiteatro, Villa dei Misteri, and Orto dei Fuggiaschi.
The Anfiteatro, or amphitheater, is where the gladiator fights took place. The large oval arena has been overgrown with flowers and now can be used as a nice place to relax after roaming through the vast streets of Pompeii.
The Villa dei Misteri, or Villa of Mystery, is a manner located outside the city and was once used as a place to make wine.
It gets it’s name from a magnificent mural found in one of the rooms.
The villa is one of the few houses in Pompeii that has survived amazingly well and gives a wonderful insight into the lives of the cities inhabitants.
The Orto dei Fuggiaschi, or Fugitive’s Garden, is located in what was once a block of vineyards in an otherwise residential area. It is named because the bones of several people attempting to flee the volcano’s eruption were found here. When the bones were discovered, one of the archaeologists on the project had the idea to pour plaster casts into the hole where the bones were discovered. The result was that the plaster filled in the space where the bodies, now decomposed, had once occupied. When the casts were removed, the “bodies” were so detailed, that minute details such as the fold of clothes and facial expressions were visible.
An honorable mention should also go to the Lupanare, which was once a brothel. While the art here is quite graphic, it was an interesting to see.
Even just roaming the streets and getting small insights to the lives of the people who once lived in Pompeii was amazing.
You can see where they worked, shopped, prayed, and how their lives were extraordinarily similar to ours.
While Pompeii may still hold many mysteries, the fabulous ruins have also greatly illuminated how life was lived during those times.