A blog of everyday life and traveling experience.

Selasa, 01 November 2022

Italy 2022: Pompeii Archaelogical Park


Since I have watched the movie Pompeii (2003 one, not the one that Kit Harrington starred in), it has been on my wish list that someday I would visit and see the ruins myself. Because the trip to Indonesia this year was canceled due to Corona, the trip to Italy became a last-minute trip, and one of the highlights was Pompeii! The first plan was to stay in Rome for a week and do a one-day trip to Pompeii, but after reading some blogs, and calculating the pros cons, and budget, we decided to in Napoli instead and go to Pompeii from there. I've made a separate post about my trip to Napoli here -- would appreciate it if you read it too :) 

What is Pompeii?

Okay, a short summary of Pompeii and why it is worth a visit. Pompeii was an ancient Roman City that turned into ruins due to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE. If you want to know more, please look at Wikipedia ;))

Where to buy the entrance tickets

There are two options to buy the ticket: offline (directly at the site) or online.

Online tickets offered you less queueing time to enter the site, however, it could cost more money. The normal price to enter Pompeii is 16€. We bought the ticket from tiqets.com for 22€, which was fair, had the queueing time was more than thirty minutes. But due to Corona and Omicron, there weren't so many people when we arrived there and we could've bought the ticket directly with less than ten minutes of queueing time. 

What you need to pay attention to by buying the online ticket was the entrance to the site. As far as I know, there are 3 entrances to the site, with one entrance being a bit far from the other two, so please keep that in mind. 

Offline tickets could be bought directly at one of the entrances. It costs 16€. I've read that most of the time you have to wait for about two hours in line, but I think before "normal" life returns after Corona, there wouldn't be so many people at the site. So might be worth it to save a bit of money and go there directly. 

Another alternative is to buy it from the local travel agency, I've seen them at both the train stations in Pompeii, although I'm not sure how much they cost. 

Reaching Pompeii from Napoli

There are many ways to reach Pompeii from Napoli: car, bus, and train. As usual before visiting another city, I've tried to reach and gather as much information by reading other traveler blogs, what and what not to bring and do, and believe me, they're really helpful. 

Our first plan was to reach Pompeii by bus. I've looked it up, and there would be one bus that would go directly to Pompeii Scavi, the bus stop directly in front of the entrance gate where we are supposed to go. We went half an hour early and even went to the bus station and waited, but the bus did not come. It was the last faith I had in buses in Napoli and admitted to myself that I should stop trying. The good thing about staying in Napoli was that the train to Pompeii ran almost twice an hour, and also depended on the fast or slower train. By train, there are two ways of reaching Pompeii: 
  1. You can choose the local train, Circumvesuviana, which will take you directly to Pompeii Scavi, which is located directly next to the archaeological park's entrance. 
    • Ca. 38 minutes.
    • Pro: Directly located next to the entrance. 
    • Cons: It has more stops (all the small train stations), and it gets very crowded, so there might be no place to sit. (imagine going there in Summer!!!)
    • If you choose to take this train, in the Napoli station, follow the route "Circumvesuviana" which is located underground! And you can buy the ticket on the vending machine, it costs around 2€ one way.
  2. The Metropolitano train (direction to Socranto), will take you to the modern city of Pompei.
    • Ca. 35 minutes.
    • Pro: Fewer stops, fewer people, the train is more comfortable. 
    • Cons: You have to walk around 15-20 mins to the entrance. (But don't worry, there is also a direct bus from the station if you preferred not to walk). 

What to bring/wear

  • Comfortable shoes (if you care for your dear life, do not wear high heels most of the roads consist of stones and you'll mostly have to walk everywhere :p) 
  • Comfortable clothing
  • Snacks/light food
  • Drinks (a bottle of water or two)
  • Some cash just in case the machine is broken if you want to buy any beverages

Our Pompeii experience

At beginning of January, we had great luck with the weather as the sun was shining, I even brought my hat (but in the end didn't use it because it was annoying, haha). The beginning of the morning was chaos because we didn't know where to get the bus, but at least we managed to reach Pompei (the modern city) station. When we arrived, there was a local bus waiting and everyone got in -- except for us. I didn't know that it was the bus directly to the archaeological park, only got to know about it once the bus is gone and the taxi driver told us. We looked it up on google maps, and it would take us 15-20 minutes to walk, so that was doable. Instead of going by taxi, we decided then to walk. If you are not used to walking a lot, I'd suggest taking a taxi or bus instead because inside the park you'd also walk for longer routes. 

The walk to the park entrance was nice, the nearer we were, the more obvious it was by more "tourist traps" restaurants or parking places. To our surprise, there were not so many people lining up at the entrance. Before we entered, we decided to take a quick break in the coffee shop. The price was quite okay considering that it was a major tourist site. And since this was done still in corona time, we had to wear FFP2 masks everywhere. 

It took us less than 5 minutes of standing in line to finally got it. For those who had the barcode, you had to exchange your tickets first at a special counter (won't be hard to miss it). Also, if you need a map, you could also take it from the counter. Before scanning your ticket, you'd see a lot of independent tour guides offering to guide you. This is up to you to take it or not. We didn't take anything, but to be honest, now I thought it'd be great to have at least the audio guide.

The first question that came into my mind was: WHAT SHOULD I VISIT FIRST? The park is so huge that for someone like me who did not know much about the history, I looked mostly like a lost lamb xD But at least thanks to the provided maps, we could see how well they have divided the maps based on the districts (even with distinguished colours). One rule of thumb I should follow when I feel unsure where to go first, is to follow the crowds ^^

In the old Pompeii, as you walked between the districts, you could clearly see how social status really makes a difference back then (well, now too actually xD): in the beginning, we explored the small houses that belonged to normal people, and in the middle of our day, we visited the houses of some "important people" with magnificent gardens. In some places there were displays of corpses that were found -- it was heartbreaking to see that at one time everything seemed okay but the next minutes boom, the volcano erupted and you couldn't even escape. 

One minus point I felt from the park was there was not so much written information of what was what except on main points. It was a bit sad considering how interesting it would be. This is where the audio guide might come in handy. The park did not provide one but you can download the audio guide from the internet -- I paid around 5€ for the audio guide (through an app) and somehow regretted it afterward. 

Also, please note that there were not so many vending machines/shops around, so make sure to prepare your water and food beforehand (there would be some spots to fill up your tap water). Overall, we spent about 4-5 hours inside, with lots of walking, trying to discover as much area as possible. 

On the way back, we were too lazy to walk back to the Pompeii train station and we decided to take the local train (Circumvesuviana). It was packed with people (plus we took it on rush hour) and I was already feeling hot although it was in January (couldn't imagine how it would be in the summer). 

I really recommend a day trip to Pompeii! If you'd like to spend more days there, I would also recommend taking the Vesuvius tour :) Thank you very much for reading and see you next time!
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