Pompeii, Italy | Cruise port of call | CruiseBe
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Pompeii, Italy

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Pompeii, Italy

Pompeii is in Campania, Italy, not far from Naples. Its major attraction is the ruined ancient Roman city of the same name, which was engulfed by

Mt. Vesuvius

in AD 79. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Romans took control of Pompeii around 200 BC. On August 24, 79 AD, Vesuvius erupted, burying the nearby town of Pompeii in ash and soot, killing 20,000 people, and preserving the city in its state from that fateful day. Pompeii is an excavation (It: scavi) site and outdoor museum of the ancient Roman settlement. This site is considered to be one of the few sites where an ancient city has been preserved in detail - everything from jars and tables to paintings and people was frozen in time, yielding, together with neighboring Read more

Pompeii, Italy

Destination:
Pompeii is in Campania, Italy, not far from Naples. Its major attraction is the ruined ancient Roman city of the same name, which was engulfed by

Mt. Vesuvius

in AD 79. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Romans took control of Pompeii around 200 BC. On August 24, 79 AD, Vesuvius erupted, burying the nearby town of Pompeii in ash and soot, killing 20,000 people, and preserving the city in its state from that fateful day. Pompeii is an excavation (It: scavi) site and outdoor museum of the ancient Roman settlement. This site is considered to be one of the few sites where an ancient city has been preserved in detail - everything from jars and tables to paintings and people was frozen in time, yielding, together with neighboring

Herculaneum

which suffered the same fate, an unprecedented opportunity to see how the people lived two thousand years ago.

Pompeii has been a popular tourist destination for over 250 years; it was on the Grand Tour. It is part of a larger Vesuvius National Park and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997. To combat problems associated with tourism, the governing body for Pompeii, the Soprintendenza Archaeological di Pompei, have begun issuing new tickets that allow for tourists to also visit cities such as Herculaneum and Stabiae as well as the Villa Poppaea, to encourage visitors to see these sites and reduce pressure on Pompeii.
Pompeii is also a driving force behind the economy of the nearby town of Pompei. Many residents are employed in the tourism and hospitality business, serving as taxi or bus drivers, waiters or hotel operators. The ruins can be easily reached on foot from the Circumvesuviana train stop called Pompei Scavi, directly at the ancient site. There are also car parks nearby.
Excavations in the site have generally ceased due to the moratorium imposed by the superintendent of the site, Professor Pietro Giovanni Guzzo. Additionally, the site is generally less accessible to tourists, with less than a third of all buildings open in the 1960s being available for public viewing today. Nevertheless, the sections of the ancient city open to the public are extensive, and tourists can spend several days exploring the whole site.

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Pompeii, Italy: Port Information


Cruise travelers can visit Pompeii on a cruise tour when their ship calls at the port of Naples.
You can hire a car, take a taxi, a bus or a train to get to Pompeii.
Probably a cruise tour offered by your ship is the safest option.
It is a 30-45 minutes ride from Naples to Pompeii.

Get around Pompeii, Italy


This is a walking site only. There are a few bicycles for rent, but the surfaces make them rather impractical. Note that walking the old Roman stone roads can be quite exhausting, especially in the heat of summer with loads of fellow tourists about. Everyone will be walking on cobblestones and uneven ground. The temperature is between 32 and 35c in the summer. Make sure to take plenty of water and watch your step as the old roads have grooves in them where the carts ran. It is advisable to wear good footwear, sunscreen, and hats. There is a lot to look at and it could take all day to see everything.

On buying your ticket you should receive a map of the site and a booklet listing the main attractions. However, these can be sometimes out of print or you may find that the only booklet available is in Italian. A map of the site is essential if you want to see a lot in as short a time as possible. Even with a map visiting Pompeii is a bit like a trip to a maze. Many of the roads, apparently open according to the map, turn out to be blocked off for excavations or repairs, or, as happened in 2010, because a building collapsed. You might think you are heading for the exit but then have to turn around and retrace your steps to find another route.

What to see in Pompeii, Italy


  • Amphitheatre

    (Anfiteatro). This is in the most easterly corner of the excavated area, near the Sarno Gate entrance. It was completed in 80BC, measures 135 x 104 meters and could hold about 20,000 people. It is the earliest surviving permanent amphitheater in Italy and one of the best preserved anywhere. It was used for gladiator battles, other sports, and spectacles involving wild animals.
  • Great Palaestra (Gymnasium). This occupies a large area opposite the Amphitheatre. The central area was used for sporting activities and there was a pool in the middle. On three sides are lengthy internal porticos or colonnades.
  • House of the Vettii (Casa dei Vettii). This is believed to have been the home of two brothers who were freed slaves and became very affluent. It contains many frescoes. In the vestibule there is a striking fresco of a well-endowed Priapus, God of Fertility and among the frescos in other parts of the building are illustrations of couples making love, of cupids and of mythological characters.
  • House of the Faun (Casa del Fauno). This is named after a statue of a dancing faun found on the site. It is considered to be an excellent example of the fusion of Italian and Greek architectural styles and occupies an entire block.
  • Forum. This was the center of public life, although it is now to the southwest of the excavated area. It was surrounded by many of the important government, religious and business buildings.
  • Temple of Apollo. This is to the north of the Basilica on the western side of the Forum. It has the oldest remains discovered, with some, including Etruscan items, dating back to 575BC, although the layout we see now was later than that.
  • Theatre. Theatre built in the hollow of a hill for acoustic advantage; it seated 5,000.
  • Via dei Sepolcri (Street of Tombs)). A long street with worn ruts from carts.
  • Lupanar. An ancient brothel with pornographic frescoes over the entrance to each room, presumably indicating the services on offer. Even allowing for the smaller size of ancient Romans the beds seem rather small.
  • House of the Ancient Hunt. Attractive, open-style house with many frescoes of hunting scenes.
  • Basilica. This is to the west of the Forum. It was the most important public building of the city where both justice was administered and trade was carried on.
  • Forum Granary. Artifacts like amphorae (storage jars) and plaster casts of people who did not escape the eruption are stored in this building, which was designed to be the public market but may not have been finished before the eruption.
  • Baths. There are several baths to be inspected. The Forum Baths are just north of the forum and close to the restaurant. They are well-preserved and roofed. Be careful not to miss them as the entranceway is a long passage with no indication of the delights inside. The Central Baths occupy a much larger area but are less well-preserved. Close to these are the Stabian baths which have some interesting decorations and give a good idea of how baths used to function in Roman times.
  • House of the Tragic Poet (Casa del Poeta Tragico). This small atrium house is best known for the mosaic at the entrance depicting a chained dog, with the words Cave Canem or "Beware of the Dog".

Other things to look for when walking around are:

  • The Ground surface. You will see in the ground there are small tiles called cat's eyes. The moon’s light or candlelight reflects off these tiles and gave light, so people could see where they were walking at night.
  • Bars and Bakeries. You will walk past where their bars and bakeries once existed. The bars had counters with three to four holes in them. They had water or other beverages available in the holes. The bakeries’ ovens look similar to the old brick stone oven. The House of the Baker has a garden area with millstones of lava stone used for grinding the wheat.
  • Street. There are tracks for the carriages in the street for a smoother ride. There are also stone blocks in the street for pedestrians to step onto to cross the street. The sidewalks are higher than the modern sidewalk because the streets had water and waste flowing through them. The stone blocks in the street were also as high as the sidewalk, so people did not walk in the waste and water.
  • Plaster Casts. The majority of the inhabitants of the ancient Pompeii died during the eruption and their corpses were entirely buried by hot ashes raining from the sky. In 1870, Giuseppe Fiorelli used a technique based on filling the empty spaces where the corpses had decomposed with liquid plaster in order to produce perfect casts of the victims of the eruption. Once the plaster had hardened, the surrounding soil was removed and the mold was brought to light. This technique was used to produce a number of casts of human bodies, animals, and objects. At the Antiquarium of Boscopreale is also exposed the cast in epoxy resin made in 1984 of one of the victims found in the Villa di Lucius Crassius Tertius at Oplontis. The transparent cast allows viewers to spot jewels and objects that the victims brought with them.

Outside of the city walls:

  • Villa dei Misteri (Villa of the Mysteries). A house with curious frescoes, perhaps of women being initiated into the Cult of Dionysus. Contains one of the finest fresco cycles in Italy, as well as humorous ancient graffiti.

In the modern town of Pompei:

  • Sanctuary. A church which is a place of pilgrimage for Roman Catholics. For others, it is not a must-see, but should you arrive or leave via the Pompei Santuario station on the Circumvesuviana, rather than Pompei Scavi, you may find it worth at least a brief look inside at this place of veneration of the Virgin Mary.

What to do in Pompeii, Italy


  • Plan your visit beforehand on Google Maps or Google Earth, or re-live it afterward. Streetview coverage exists for part of the city and there are 3D models of many of the buildings. Bing Maps also provides fairly detailed oblique views of the city.
  • Buy a guidebook. Get the official guide (Pompeii: guide to the site, published by Electa Napoli) from the site bookshop next to the ticket office. Lots of guides and maps are available but this one neatly combines the two.
  • Also visit the National Museum in Naples where most of the best-preserved mosaics and found items from Pompeii are kept.
  • Also visit the sister site Herculaneum, which is only one Circumvesuviana stop apart and suffered a similar fate to Pompeii. Though it is a smaller site it was covered by a pyroclastic surge (instead of the ash and lapilli that covered Pompeii). This allowed some second storeys to survive.
  • Have a look at random villas, as sometimes even small side rooms have amazing frescoes (wall paintings).
  • Don't miss the "Garden of the Fugitives" at the south-east side where plaster casts of several victims (sadly, including children) are on display where they originally fell. The plants in this garden have been reconstructed to match ancient growth, based on the study of plaster casts of plant roots.
  • Walk outside the City Gates to the Villa of the Mysteries, one of the greatest houses to come down to us from the ancient world. Even on a very hot day, it is worth the walk.
  • Put a big memory card in your camera. There are many hundreds of photo opportunities in this site.

Tour

PompeiIn info@pompeiin.com +39 3284134719 offers several itineraries at the ancient Pompeii lasting from 1 hour to 6 hours. The guides are locals, are licensed and are graduated in archeology; they are able to provide kids and disabled friendly tours, and with their vast knowledge of ancient history and society are capable of making the ancient Pompeii come to life. The highlights of the city are covered, such as the Forum, the Baths, the Brothel, the Bakeries, the House of The Faun and the House of the Tragic Poet, the Amphitheatre, the Theaters, the Villa of Mysteries, the Cemeteries and the City Fortifications.

What to eat and drink in Pompeii, Italy


Eat

  • On the way from the station to the official entrance loads of shops try to sell stuff for very expensive prices but the food is not outstanding. Drinks, especially the freshly pressed orange and lemon juices, however, are fantastic especially in the heat, though slightly pricey.
  • You can get a very good panino (filled bread roll) from some of the stands. The one at the end near the Porta Marina has fantastic ones.
  • There is a café and restaurant in the excavation area, just north of the Forum. Not surprisingly, this is rather expensive and not particularly good. Nonetheless, it is an OK place to take a break and recuperate, particularly with its air conditioning. If you don't have time for a rest you can grab an ice cream from a service window that faces the street. The restaurant has toilets, seemingly the only ones on the site.

Drink

  • Remember to take enough water to drink as it gets quite hot in the dusty streets. Keep your empty bottles for refilling as there are occasional water taps around the site dispensing rather odd-smelling water that, however, seems to be drinkable.
  • Lemon and Orange granita bought from outside the site are a tasty way to cool down.

Shopping in Pompeii, Italy


  • Interesting plastic "past & present" books sold by vendors. Deal with them for an even better price
  • Buy a tour guide book, so you can read more about the interesting city history, building and artifacts. There is so much to learn from the Romans and to see how they lived.
  • Cameos. These are a local specialty and tour buses frequently stop at a factory.

Safety in Pompeii, Italy


Mt Vesuvius is an active volcano and can erupt at any time. Scientists have devised a system to detect impending eruptions, though, so feel free to browse Pompeii's ruins without fear of falling ash and lapilli (pumice)! It's more likely that you should be trying to protect yourself from pickpockets. The site attracts a huge array of international visitors every day, and this money attracts some thieves, so keep your valuables protected, particularly near the entrances and the train station.

If you come by car, be aware not to park at the parking place near the entrance to the archeological site. It is a tourist trap! There are much cheaper parking places just a few hundred meters down the hill in the town.

Language spoken in Pompeii, Italy


Italian is the main language. English is widely spoken in tourist places.

LOCAL TIME

9:13 am
June 17, 2019
Europe/Rome

CURRENT WEATHER

23.52 °C / 74.336 °F
sky is clear
Tue

23.75 °C/75 °F
sky is clear
Wed

24.65 °C/76 °F
sky is clear
Thu

24.65 °C/76 °F
sky is clear
Fri

24.97 °C/77 °F
sky is clear

LOCAL CURRENCY

EUR

1 USD = 0 EUR
1 GBP = 0 EUR
1 AUD = 0 EUR
1 CAD = 0 EUR

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