On the slopes of the majestic Vesuvius – in the province of Naples and just 30 minutes from Salerno – stands the famous Roman city of Pompei .
Its notoriety is due to the eruption of the Neapolitan volcano that covered it for about 6 metres of ash and lapilli in 79 AD, causing the death of thousands of people. However, this huge tragedy allowed the entire archaeological site to be preserved, leaving it almost intact to this day.
Its archaeological park, a UNESCO heritage site, is currently among the most visited places in Italy.
Pompei and its archaeological park among the largest and most impressive in the world
The eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. was the most powerful volcano in Campania’s history. The explosive force was such that Vesuvius largely changed its morphology. The violent explosion not only destroyed the ancient Roman city of Pompeii but also Herculaneum, Stabia (today Castellammare di Stabia) and Oplontis (today Torre Annunziata).
As a result of the excavations and thanks mainly to the technique of casts, it was possible to reconstruct the last moments of the victims’ lives.
The painstaking work of the workers has brought to light ‘pieces of life’ of the ancient city that seem to have stood still in time as if immortalised in a photograph. Every day, local tour guides manage with their stories to revive the countless buildings that have remained almost intact and help tourists find their way through the dense labyrinth of buildings.
Archaeological excavations in the 18th century have brought to the surface in all its majesty the ancient Civil Forum and its square, the centre of the city’s daily life. It is here, in fact, that the large public buildings for justice and administration overlooked. On the west side of the square stood the Sanctuary of Apollo, while on the opposite side were shops of various kinds.
The archaeological park of Pompeii is truly vast and it is not easy to visit it all in one day. It covers practically the entire area of ancient Pompeii before the eruption and is full of unmissable stops such as a visit to the Teatro Grande – the first large building to be freed from the deposits of the eruption – the Stabian Baths – the city’s oldest thermal building – and a walk along Via dell’Abbondanza – home to artisan workshops, taverns, shops and houses from the Roman era.
A good pair of comfortable shoes becomes a valuable and necessary ally to fully enjoy the beauty of Pompeii as well as a wide-brimmed hat if you decide to visit in summer.
On some summer dates, the Archaeological Park is also open at night. The evening walk is very atmospheric. Definitely worth doing.
The new city Pompei , a place of worship, gastronomic passion and nightlife
If you plan a visit to Pompeii, a visit to its Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of the Holy Rosary is a must.
The church is the city’s main place of worship and houses a painting of the Madonna to whom miraculous powers have been attributed since the mid-1800s. The Sanctuary is a stop on many pilgrimages and every day, but especially every Sunday, thousands of believers flock to the Sanctuary in search of grace through the intercession of the Holy Virgin.
A few steps from the square where the neoclassical church stands is La Villa dei Misteri. The building owes its name to the large frescoes in its interior depicting mystery rites, i.e. reserved for devotees of the cult. The complex dates back to the 2nd century BC and its excellent state of preservation, which came to light with excavations in the early 20th century, is truly impressive.
History, a lot of history and religion, then, in a city that in recent years has, however, been able to enhance itself and become home to many lounge bars, pubs and discos that attract young and young-at-heart from all over Campania, especially on weekends from aperitif time onwards.
The typical cuisine is traditional Neapolitan, so in addition to pizza, the undisputed queen of the table, highly recommended are gnocchi alla sorrentina or spaghetti with clams.
Impossible even to think of going on a diet if you are visiting these parts. How can you not try the typical soffritto soup or a nice plate of friarielli? But above all, how can you resist sfogliatelle, frolle, pastiere and babà? The advice is to taste everything and then dispose of it by walking non-stop among the excavations.
Pompeii is halfway between Naples and Salerno, from which it is just under 30 km by motorway. It is very well connected by trains and buses, but it is also possible to reach the regional capital by the local Circumvesuviana train, which has very frequent runs, also stopping at Ercolano and with which you can also reach Sorrento. From the station it is very easy to reach the excavations on foot, while taking a bus will get you to the top of Vesuvius in no time.
There are many ways and means to reach the city of excavations. All that remains is to decide on a date for this unparalleled experiential journey.