Pompeii has been on my bucket list for a while because of the amazing aura surrounding it. How often does one get to take in a 7th-6th century BC city with Etruscan, Greek, and Roman elements inside of it? Or glimpse the evidence of Roman life and conquer, completely preserved due to the eruption of Vesuvius? Pompeii definitely lives up to the hype. It cannot be reduced to a single informative blog. It is simply something you must glimpse in person with your imagination fully engaged.
With this in mind, I’d like to highlight how we “did” Pompeii. Please keep in mind that on our particular excursion, we were able to be independent because we are 3 good friends and fit 20-30 somethings. That means that spending the entire day out in Pompeii was not daunting for us because we were physically able to navigate it, and we did not get pissy with each other because we enjoy each other’s company. Think of who you’re going with before you decide how to “do” Pompeii.
One major question you may have when planning your trip is whether or not to book a guided tour. The three of us felt that a guided tour wasn’t “us.” We’d much rather have the flexibility to go at our own pace. So for this group of friends, an independent audio/book-guided tour was the best bet.
We have several logistical ideas to share with you:
- Wear supportive, comfortable tennis shoes or sneakers. To the fashionistas of the world: find a way to sport some sneakers! You’re walking in an old Roman city with very uneven roads and climbing around ancient ruins. You will have to stay on your feet for the rest of your vacation, so give your feet a break!
- Park in front of the Carrefour near the Porta Marina. It’s only €5 per day and the closest parking lot to the main entrance.
- Leave the audio guide. The audio guide sounds like a great idea in theory, but in practice it gets tedious. A lot of the sights featured in the audio guide are being restored and you can’t see inside everything as you listen. It’s easier to look at the guidebook that is given to you with the map when you purchase your ticket.
- Carry water bottles. It can get hot in the afternoon and you will need a way to stay hydrated.
- Begin the day as early as you possibly can. The sun gets hot in the afternoon, and crowds+sun can be a lot to push many over the edge.
- Dress in layers. There will be breezes and sun, so be prepared for both. Also be prepared to carry around layers that have been shed, so be smart about which layers you bring.
- Carry a snack or light lunch with you. We ended up eating at the autogrill, which was sufficient for a light lunch, but if you’re a picky eater or get peckish without snacks, bring it all with you.
- Keep in mind that a lot of items are not actually in Pompeii, but featured on display at the archeological museum in Naples. If that bums you out, you’ll need to work a trip to Napoli into your itinerary.
Overall, we enjoyed Pompeii, leaving with more of a glimpse into what life must have been like in ancient Roman times, and imagining possibilities of the lives lost there.