Pompeii and Nearby Excavations, Campania, Italy



Pompei, the Modern Town

We chose to stay in Pompei (the modern town) for easy access to the ruins and the Amalfi coast. We stayed in a little detached one-bedroom apartment we found on Homeaway.com, complete with a well furnished kitchen and a patio overlooking a garden. The owner was a kind-hearted young woman who was very helpful with our plans. The apartment was a 10 minute walk to Pompeii, the Ruins.

Pompeii, the Ruins

A stroll down the ancient streets of Pompeii

Pompei Temple Ruins

Pompeii - Some of the many columns that still stand


Go early, bring water bottles (for refilling inside the Ruins), bring hats, snacks, and sunscreen. There are no in-and-out privileges here. We purchased the 5 site pass for 22EU/adult that gave us access to Pompeii, Herculaneum, Torre Annunziata, Bosco and Castella di Stabia, since we were planning to visit 3 of the sites. We entered through the Anfiteatro entrance, since it was closer to our apartment and we heard had shorter lines. We picked up an early quick lunch just outside the entrance from local vendor. 

Pompeii Temple Ruins

Pompeii Temple Ruins

A Tavern in Pompeii - the large holes in the counter were to hold food and beverage containers


Our travel through Pompeii took us to see the rich villas that Pompeii is known for, casts of human beings (both slaves and their owners), baths, brothels and many taverns, all connected via chariot-scarred cobblestones streets. Give yourself at least a half day to visit, a full day would be better. Pick up a map near the entrance and circle the attractions you want to visit. Pompeii is a huge area that can get overwhelming. So be sure to pace yourself, especially if you are traveling with kids.



Our next stop was Oplontis, the once-villa of Nero’s Empress, buried under Mount Vesuvius’ thick layer of ash. Oplontis’ train stop is at Torre Annunziata, just a stop away from Pompeii Scavi station. From Torre Annunziata station, it was a short walk tthe Circumvesuviana station and be sure to validate before you get on. I learned to buy tickets for both ways, in case the ticket office is closed on the way back. At Oplontis, there are many frescoes and mosaics to see and many rooms and open space to explore. It was a lot quieter than the Pompeii Ruins. We spent about an hour or so here.


Oplontis - In the Living Area of the Empress' Villa looking towards the front garden

Oplontis Frescoes

One of Oplontis' many Frescoes




Herculaneum is another town that lay under the ashes of Mount Vesuvius. It sits underneath the modern town of Ercolano. Much of Herculaneum still lays buried underneath the modern town, though there is still plenty to see that has been excavated. Stop at Ercolano train station, walk towards 1st roundabout from train station, then keep walking straight ahead. There should be signs after the 1st roundabout assuring you that you are on the right track to Herculaneum. We enjoyed a quick pastry breakfast along the way, purchased from an old Italian woman’s vendor stand in front of her shop.

Herculaneum Boat House

Herculaneum Boathouse where people took refuge from the volcano, awaiting rescue from sea, only to succumb completely to the volcanoes' power.  The white dots are human skeletal remains that lay where they were when Mount Vesuvius unleashed its fury in 79AD.  The volcanic ash pushed out the shoreline by 1km.  Now the area around the boathouse is land.


Herculaneum boasts many taverns, baths and villas, but it is most famous for the Villa of the Papyri. Once thought to be owned by Julius Caesar’s father-in-law, it is well-known for housing ancient scrolls. Unfortunately while we were there, that villa was closed for research. One thing we did not miss though, was the old port where the bones of some 300 people attempting to escape still lay where they were when Mt. Vesuvius unleashed its fury. I would suggest entering the ruins by way of the boathouse, as it is called, which brings you under some tunnels and face-to-face with these ancient victims. It is a sober reminder at how powerless we are to the strength of mother nature.


Warning: The safety of these adventures are dependent on a variety of factors including but not limited to: terrain, weather, wildlife, hiker skill level, human error, and other foreseen and unforeseen circumstances. Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information provided at the time of publication, we do not assume any liability for the accuracy and completeness of the information provided.  As such, we will not be held responsible for any harm, injury, and/or loss that may result. Your personal judgement on the safety of each adventure is required at all times. Please use your own discretion and be safe.


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