Tourists Visiting Pompeii Ruins.James Martin, Europe Travel

Say what you will about natural disasters like the one that befell the little cities below Vesuvius in 79 AD, but one thing is for certain: Archaeologists and historians sifting through the ancient remains can tell far more about these cities than they can about ones that took their sweet time to collapse.

Imagine, at dawn on August 25, 79 A.D., a violent explosion of toxic gases and burning cinders from an eruption that had started a day earlier caused time to come to a stop at Pompeii.

People were covered in ash doing whatever they could to survive. Frescoes were left undone, the paints still in their pots. The ash and cinders covered and preserved the scene exactly as it was at that moment. As tragic as it was, the information preserved beneath the rubble was as pristine as it gets for a 2000 year old site.

Excavations at Pompeii

Excavations were begun all the way back in 1748 by Carlo Borbone. Seeking fame, he dug at random for treasures, much like a clandestino might do today. (A clandestino is one who does the work clandestinely for his own gain, like a grave robber.)

It wasn’t until the appointment of Guiseppe Fiorelli in 1861 that a systematic excavation was undertaken. Fiorelli was responsible for pioneering the technique of making plaster casts of the victims of the eruption of the type you’ll see around the site if you go.

Excavations continue to this day.

Pompeii was a haven for many wealthy Romans, and so the rich remains hold a certain fascination for us today.

Many of the frescoes still seem fresh, and the restored mosaic floors are spectacular. It’s hard to believe, as we extrapolate backwards from the technology explosion we’ve experienced over the short period of our lifetimes, that over two millennia ago people were living in houses and apartments of a type that we wouldn’t mind living in today. (Well, as long as you don’t mind the lack of private flush toilets I mean.)

The excavations at Pompeii are pretty extensive. You may not see everything in a day.

Getting to Pompeii

You can take the private lineCircumvesuvianathat runs between Naples and Sorrento. Get off atPompei Scavi. If you take the Naples to Poggiomarino line, get off atPompei Santuario. The Regular FS line from Naples to Salerno stops at (modern) Pompei as well, but a different station than the Circumvesuviana.

The SITA bus that runs from Naples to Salerno stops at Pompei in the piazza Esedra.

By car take the Pompei exit from Autostrada A3.

For all the ways to get to Pompeii with prices, including taxi, see:Naples to Pompeii.

Pompei Scavi Tickets

A single ticket to get into the Pompeii excavations at the time of writing costs €11. Also available is a three day pass to access five sites: Herculaneum, Pompeii, Oplontis, Stabiae, Boscoreale for €20. CheckPompei Turismofor the latest ticket prices.

Pompei Scavi Opening Times

November – March:every day from 8.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last admission 3.30 p.m.)
April – October:every day from 8.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. (last admission 6 p.m.)

Closed:1st January, 1st May, 25th December.

Pompeii or Pompei?

Pompeii is the spelling of the ancient Roman site, the modern town is spelled Pompei.

Staying in Pompei

There are manyhotels in Pompei. The one we recommend, and which garners great reviews from folks who’ve stayed there is theHotel Diana Pompei(compare prices on Hipmunk) a three star hotel near the Pompei FS station and a short walk (about 10 minutes) from the ancient city, Pompei Scavi. The nearby restaurant,La Bettola del Gusto Ristorante, serves excellent food,the hotel staffis friendly and helpful and the free Internet works well.