An archaeological wonder: Pompeii, Italy It is a journey that makes great day trip, if you are staying in Rome. We caught a train from the central train station to Naples a two hours trip and then switched to a local train that passes through several villages and runs parallel to the coast so you have a beautiful view of the Tyrrhenian Sea before reaching Pompeii along the 16 miles journey from Naples to Pompeii.
Before continuing, a little bit of history. In 79 AD, a catastrophic eruption of Vesuvius destroyed Pompeii and left it totally buried under four metres of ash and lava. The tons of volcanic debris naturally allowed houses, shops, streets and the charred bodies preserve as they were left the day of the eruption. After the disaster, the city was lost underground until it was accidentally rediscovered in 1599. Archaeologists discovered the buildings that retained their original paintings, frescoes, mosaics and objects, all of which has provided valuable information of the Roman lifestyle during the first century BC.
When we left the small train station of Pompeii, we sought a sign that indicated the direction in which we had to walk in order to reach the ruins, but found nothing. With luck on our side a taxi driver offered to take us to our destination for about 20 euros, but we thought it was too expensive and rejected it. The driver quickly said “15 euros!” but again we said no and turned and walked away when he yelled “for 7!” Faced with so much insistence we had no choice but to accept the offer, after all we thought 7 euros was a reasonable price after the 20 euros initially offered. But when we reached our destination we realised that the distance between the train station and the ruins can be walked without problems, especially if you are not in a hurry. On our return trip we opted for this alternative.
On the outskirts of the ruins there are many restaurants offering local delicacies. It is a good idea to have something to eat before entering the ancient Pompeii because maybe not so obviously there are no shops and restaurants and the visit can take hours if you decide to walk the entire town. Another piece of advice, bring a bottle of water and if you are going in summer, avoid wearing sandals because the stone made streets are irregular and slippery. The first thing that struck me was the size of the town that had been home to 20,000 people by the time Vesuvius erupted. I had imagined that we would find only sections of the ancient Pompeii, but the truth is that the whole village has been preserved! I was amazed at the detail that had been unearthed during the renovation of the town. The colours of the interiors were vivid and the charred bodies remain with the expressions where they fell during the tragic events of 79 AD. Undoubtedly, the archaeologists have done an excellent job.
Much of what we were taught about the Roman Empire at school was in front of our eyes. It was really amazing to visit such an old place and learn a bit more about Roman civilisation. It is an excellent choice for a day trip.