Rome Day 4: Day Trip to Pompeii

Does anyone *not* have a memory from, like, fourth grade learning about Pompeii?
For me it’s one of a handful of experiences I can point to and say, “that stuck with me.” It was tragic and ancient, and amazing that a perfectly persevered-in-a-moment archaeological site came out of it. And today I walked it. I saw the plaster casts and the ruts from chariots.
It’s not like Pompeii has occupied my thoughts incessantly for 20-some-odd years. Other than the basic pop-culture ancient-history tragedy I didn’t know much about Pompeii before today. Turns out it was a huge, functional, on-its-way-to-glory city. It had crosswalks and bakeries and Roman baths and a red light district and impressive mosaics. Yet the people of Pompeii didn’t know Vesuvius was a volcano. Go figure. 
Whether or not I had done my homework, Pompeii was really neat. Our two-hour tour explained the methodology of how archaeologists and historians have pieced together daily life, and they offered insight into most of what we were looking at. And it’s all fascinating. What we know and how we know it is the kind of facts that just make you go Hmmmm. 
Let’s let the photos do the talking, eh?
(More about the Dark Rome/City Wonders tour at the end of the post.)

H’okay. So. About the tour. 
It was, honestly, perfectly fine. Our two tour guides on the bus were fantastic and our guide around Pompeii was delightful. I very sincerely learned a lot and wanted it to continue for the whole day.
But it was still very much a get-on-the-bus; get-off-the-bus; listen-to-the-guide-in-headphones type of tour. According to our guides, Pompeii was busy today, and I’d doubt it gets any better if you’re taking the tour in the summer. I got frustrated at certain points because I didn’t feel like I had enough time to really take it all in. There was a boat-load of information but I just wanted to look at it. Which there frankly wasn’t always time for. 
We stopped for lunch at a pizza place just down the road from the historic site, and the pizza was delicious (salad was meh). We also stopped by the National Archaeological Museum of Naples to see a lot of artifacts that had been “removed” (CoughLootedCough) including AHMAZING mosaic murals (HUGE, intricate murals) and erotic art originally from a Pompeii brothel (also, ahem, huge…).
Ultimately I felt like it was worth the money and I’d do it again, especially since it was my first day tour based out of Rome. But if I go back just for Pompeii, I’m definitely doing it DIY. High-speed trains leave frequently from Rome, so if you time it right you could have a lot more time to spend at the ruins than the two hours allotted for our tour (and we didn’t get to go back to look at things!). 
Honestly, I’d seriously consider staying in Naples or Sorrento for a couple of nights if this is high on your to-do list. We had tried to work that into our itinerary but it was going to make everything super frantic. The ruins themselves have enough to look at for at least a day. Rick Steves (of Colosseum/Roman Forum fame) suggested three hours to follow along with his podcast on the site. You could very easily spend more time here.

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