The imposing shadow of Vesuvius sits over Naples, and about a half an hour taxi ride from Naples you find yourself in Pompeii. History buff or not, Pompeii is easily one of the most fascinating places I’ve ever visited. Be warned, it’s baking hot there in the summer, so an early spring visit might be best if heatstroke isn’t exactly your style. The seemingly endless roads are an impressive sight, and it’s difficult to stop yourself from taking photos at every corner. The thing that constantly hit me as we walked around Pompeii was that people walked these streets thousands of years ago, and here I am now as a lowly tourist following in their path.
I would absolutely recommend taking a guided tour of the site, there are so many nuances and stories (made up or not) that are incredibly fascinating and you would barely notice if you were wandering around yourself. These tours can be pretty pricey, but there tend to be good deals on, especially if you book up with an agent. With or without a tour guide it’s definitely worth checking out the forum, the ruins of houses and of course the brothel! One of the best preserved buildings in the city, the brothel is not to be missed with incredibly…er…intricate…mosaics on the wall.
Keeping in mind the heat, definitely take a bottle or two of water for your trip around Pompeii and definitely take your camera of course! The entire city is a ghost town, demonstrating the greatest skills of the Roman era. The mosaics are gorgeous and the columns that line the main marketplace are a feat of engineering. It’s almost impossible to comprehend how these structures were put together without the help of modern inventions like cranes and bulldozers.
The most iconic images of Pompeii are those of the ashen covered people, frozen in their terror. These remains are kept in glass cases and a hush fell upon the watching crowd as they were faced with this image. It’s a stark reminder of how Pompeii came to be so famous and the power of the imposing Vesuvius that sits behind the site.
Out the front of Pompeii are rows and rows of stalls selling some great souvenirs and some more tacky bits and pieces. Depending on your taste, and your willingness to have a little barter with the stallholders you can pick up some nice memories of Pompeii. There is also a shop selling and making Limoncello! They’ll offer you a sample and if a lemony liqueur is your kind of thing then obviously take them up on it! Plus, little decorative bottles of Limoncello make a great gift for friends and family back home.