The Roman city of Pompeii has been on our bucket list for a while, along with places like the Forum and the Colosseum in Rome. We visited in 2018 during our trip to Naples. In this post, however, we will also tell you how to visit the ancient city of Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius from Sorrento.
Read: 13 Amazing things to do in Naples, Italy.
VISITING POMPEII & HOW TO GET THERE
FROM NAPLES BY TRAIN
From our hotel, Rex Lifestyle Hotel, to the Napoli Centrale Station, it cost a fixed €18 in a taxi. Once you enter the station, you must follow the signs downstairs to the ‘Garibaldi’ line and the Circumvesuviana platform. The station clearly marks this with large blue signs.
It is from here you then buy tickets. It took us around 20 minutes to buy these after joining a queue. Be warned though, locals will push in-front of you. They don’t care you’re here to see the sights, they just want to get on with their day.
Tickets in hand, you will then need to make your way to platform 3. A very busy platform. The Naples – Sorrento Circumvesuviana service also takes you to Herculaneum. The other town destroyed during the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD, so if you have time you could stop here too. Trains run frequently, every 30 minutes in fact, until around 10pm. Our tickets cost €11.20 including a return, which we thought was quite reasonable.
The trains can be very busy. Be ready, because once the train stops at the platform and those doors open, everyone makes a mad dash to find the last spot. Once those spots are full, they’ll try to find spots that don’t exist until they cram you in like sardines in a tin.
You will depart the train at the Pompei Scavi-Villa dei Misteri stop from both Naples and Sorrento. This is directly outside the archaeological site.
The journey to Pompeii lasts around 35 minutes. Be prepared to stand this entire time. Take some water, as the carriages can be hot and very humid.
FROM SORRENTO BY TRAIN
Once again, you will take the Circumvesuviana line to Pompeii, just the opposite way. From the main station in Sorrento, you will take Line 1. Tickets cost around €10 including the return journey. The journey from Sorrento is a little longer, approximately 45 minutes.
THE ANCIENT CITY OF POMPEII
Once you arrive at Pompeii, you’ll need tickets to enter. There are several ticket booths offering a range of tours and services just outside the site. We opted for a self lead visit rather than a guided tour. We bought ‘skip the line’ tickets for €15 each and made our way to the entrance.
Pompeii, lying in the shadow of Vesuvius, a once thriving city. The streets lined with Roman soldiers, families, business owners and children. People just getting on with their daily routines. Wiped out in an instant. Cobbled roads with the grooves of carts drawn by horses are still visible.
Frescoes, columns, bakeries and food shops are all still here as if they could spring to life again any minute, all beautifully preserved. Don’t forget to go look for the plaster casts of the people who died that day, frozen in time, found in the position they perished in. A very eerie experience.
THE FRESCOS OF POMPEII
Fresco is a technique of mural painting executed upon freshly laid lime plaster. Water is used as the vehicle for the dry-powder pigment to merge with the plaster, and with the setting of the plaster, the painting becomes an integral part of the wall.Wikipedia.
The ones at Pompeii are some of the best preserved. The volcanic ash that spewed from the volcano covered them for thousands of years, so they were well protected from the elements. Colourful pigments remain and we now get to enjoy these ancient masterpieces.
FIVE FACTS ABOUT POMPEII & MOUNT VESUVIUS
The ruins of Pompeii were first discovered in the late 16th century by architect Domenico Fontana.
They designated both Pompeii and neighbouring Herculaneum a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79AD destroying the city of Pompeii. If the wind had been blowing in its usual SW direction during the eruption, the people would have had a better chance of survival.
Mount Vesuvius last erupted on March 17th, 1944, during World War II, killing 26 people.
Pompeii was once a thriving city and the Emperor Nero is thought to have had a home there.
THE PEOPLE OF POMPEII
Here at Pompeii, you will see the famous plaster casts of residents, found in the position that they perished in. These casts were made by pouring plaster into the voids, left after the body decomposed, leaving just the skeleton behind.
Men, women, children, dogs and horses have all been remarkably preserved. The process of doing this was first undertaken around 1870 by Giuseppe Fiorelli.
You can see the plaster casts at both Pompeii and the National Archaeological Museum of Naples.
We had a good three hours exploring, but to be honest, we could have spent all day here. There is so much to see and the place is huge. The only reason we left early was so we could visit the next stop on our journey, Mount Vesuvius. Before buying our ticket for the coach, we grabbed a few snacks and some water from one of the food stalls.
VISITING MOUNT VESUVIUS
Coach tickets for Mount Vesuvius cost €10 each and are available from vendors outside the gates of Pompeii. There is another charge to enter the National Park and crater area. You pay this when reaching the coach park at the Vesuvius National Park entrance. Tickets for this cost a further €10. The scenery on the way up is quite something, though. Through winding roads, forests, we passed tomato plantations and several small villages. There were also many burnt and charred trees and buildings.
Advice, wear some very comfy trainers or boots for this because you are going to do a lot of walking. Also, take plenty of liquids. You are going to need it. There is a small snack shack on the way up, though, just in case you forget. The hike to the crater over the soft, ashy, and stony ground is pretty rough. But once you get to the crater’s edge, the views are incredible out over the Bay of Naples.
SPECIALIST TOURS & EXPERIENCES WITH GET YOUR GUIDE
Small-Group Tour with an Archeologist. Discover Pompeii with an archaeologist on a small-group or private tour. Skip the ticket line and explore the excavations while listening to anecdotes.
Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii and Bosco dei Madici Winery. Travel to the top of Vesuvius at 3,000 feet, which dominates and offers a beautiful view of Naples and the 3 islands. Afterwards, relax in some famous cellars sampling local wine, before touring the remarkable ruins of Pompeii.