As soon as I knew we would be traveling to Rome, I knew I would make the effort to go just a little further to see the ancient city of Pompeii and It was so worth it!
Although there are many organized tours leaving from Rome, most of them start pre-dawn and I rarely do pre-dawn. We chose to go on our own and in our own time and it worked out perfectly! We even slept in a little bit!
The modern city of Pompei (spelled with one i) is only 2 hours and 20 minutes from Rome. We took an express train to Naples and then transferred to a local train. The station is just down the hill from the entrance to ancient Pompeii. Don’t worry there will be taxis lined up waiting to drive you the two miles up the hill. Our taxi driver let us know that there is no outside food allowed and suggested a nice pizza place just outside the gates. How convenient! 😉
I did notice what looked to be a food stand inside the city, but it was closed until summertime.
While Tim was paying the taxi I was approached by a nice older gentleman who wanted to know if I needed a guide. I must admit I was hesitant at first. I wasn’t sure, was he legitimate? How much is too much to pay for a tour? However, I really wanted to hire a guide and he did seem nice, we had come so far, his badge did look official…
Tim arrived! Okay! He was an official guide and it would be a two-hour private tour. We were visiting during the off-season, so he would give us half price. We agreed and off we went! Our guide, whose name I seem to have forgotten, had been giving tours of Pompeii for 30+ years and had grown up only a few miles away! Did you know Pompeii has been a tourist attraction for 250 years?! Wow!
Because we were there in December there weren’t many other people walking around and we had the opportunity to wander down many of the ancient streets alone and undisturbed. Maybe it was just me, but I could almost feel the people who had walked there before us. Because it was buried under 20 feet of ash and pumice during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius even 2000 years later everything is incredibly well-preserved. Walking where they walked and seeing where they lived and ate goes a long way in helping to bring the past to life.
It seems that the Pompeiians were a very progressive and open-minded people, especially about sex. There were references to it everywhere, even on the streets. Sort of like street signs directing you, there were phallic symbols literally pointing the way to the brothels. Our guide did a great job of telling us all about this part of life in Pompeii without really alerting the kids to what he was talking about. Yay guide!
During the tour we saw some of the plaster casts that were created of the human remains which were frozen in time at the exact moment of their deaths. Although I know they aren’t actually the bodies of these people you can’t help but feel moved when you see them. We also saw many remnants of everyday life in Pompeii: pizza ovens,”fast food” restaurants, the brothels, private homes, the forum, as well as incredibly preserved mosaics and other art pieces.
All four of us really enjoyed the tour and we learned so much about what life was probably like in 79 AD. We couldn’t believe that two hours had gone by when it seemed like no time at all!