A map and cool Raybans do not a traveler make. If you’re braving Pompeii this year, use these handy tips to look the part – without knowing a thing!
If you’re like any of the 48.6 million travelers who descend on Italy every year, you decide to take a trip to the ghostly ruins of Pompeii. Like moths to a flame, people from all over the world flock to see the famous Roman archaeological site. And most haven’t a clue what they’re doing.
If you don’t want to be buried under volcanic ash and sweaty sandals, here are some practical tips for your day in Pompeii. Hopefully they’ll keep you out of harm’s way.
First things first: know how to get there. If you’re coming from nearby Naples, take any train towards Sorrento, Sapri or Salerno. Journeys only take 35 minutes, and there are plenty of regular services from Stazione di Napoli Centrale.
Planning a day trip from Rome? Take any train from Roma Termini to Naples and then change to one of the regional services to Pompeii. If you’d rather avoid the hassle of running after trains in the blazing Italian sun, you can always take a more comfortable bus round trip. Why should you do all the work?
Pompeii is one busy ruin
Pompeii was engulfed by lava and ash in AD 79, and in 2017 you may have the feeling you’re engulfed by tourists. Crowds aren’t as deadly as lapilli, but stay alert to avoid the 2.5 million couples, families, hikers, tours, selfie sticks and iPads that inundate these Roman streets.
A handy tour guide can get you around the city in around 3-4 hours. If you’re going solo, allocate an extra hour or so to give you extra time to get to grips with your surroundings – this is not an experience you want to rush through.
Look out for the dogs
Pompeii’s stray dogs are as much a part of the site as the buildings themselves. Past and present, the city is known for its long, and at times brutal, relationship with man’s furry friends. Dozens of stray dogs are abandoned here every year, fighting against the harsh heat and lack of food.
On a positive note, there are many local initiatives to promote their adoption. Many guides also pool resources in order to feed as many dogs as possible. It’s all part of the experience.
Mind your step, your head, and your whole body
If you think Rome is a cobbled death trap, you’ve obviously never been to Pompeii. Paths made from large bricks and stones have wide gaps where you can easily trip into ancient gutters. Getting up close and personal with history just took on a whole new meaning!
Hard to find your way home?
Come rain or shine, digs and excavations here never stop. This means that a lot of streets are off-limits, making it harder for visitors to navigate.
But don’t fret, you won’t be the first with that problem. Pompeians were notorious drinkers, and many struggled to find their way home at night. Historians even mention their cracking hangovers the next day (or two)!
So any struggles getting around puts you more on par with those ancient residents.
Within Pompeii, there are queues galore outside almost every building. But what if there were another way to get in?
There are unmarked entrances scattered around the ruins, and the security guards watching them may let you sneak a peek. Here’s where Pompeii comes to life: bright mosaics, fountains, and statues fill the dusty chambers and evergreen courtyards. You can even catch stories about Roman baths and snobby neighbors trying to outdo each other’s dining rooms.
Prepare to catch the wanderlust bug
Above all, prepare to be amazed. There’s a reason Pompeii is on everyone’s bucket list, and you’ll be one of the lucky ones to cross it off. A visit here will whet your appetite for more journeys.
History not enough to curb your appetite?
You’re here to enjoy the scenery, not throw money away. Only a short walk away, For good cheap eats close to the excavation, try Add’u Mimi, a family-owned restaurant specializing in local, hearty Neopolitan food, with great vegetarian options and fair prices. If you’ve got pizza on the mind, Pizzeria Alleria will do the trick.
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