Almost 2,000 years ago a wealthy Roman city, with a population of 11,000 to 15,000 people was located near the southeastern base of Mount Vesuvius, a dormant volcano. These Roman citizens enjoyed many beautiful public buildings, luxurious private houses that featured lavish decorations, furnishings and works of art. Mosaics covered the floors and frescos were common wall decorations. The people attended gladiator games, plays, visited public baths and shopped in several large open-air marketplaces.
It all ended beginning around noon on August 24, 79 AD, when a huge eruption from Mount Vesuvius showered volcanic debris across the city of Pompeii and the whole of the population, that could, fled the city. The eruption followed up the next day with clouds of blisteringly hot gases. Many buildings were damaged or destroyed and any population that remained was quickly killed.
Pompeii, along with Herculaneum and many villas in the surrounding area were buried under 13 to 20 feet of volcanic ash and pumice and remained buried for over fifteen hundred years. The ruins at Pompeii were first uncovered late in the 16th century by an architect named Domenico Fontana. Herculaneum was discovered in 1709, and systematic excavation began there in 1738. Work did not begin at Pompeii until 1748, and in 1763 an inscription (“Rei publicae Pompeianorum”) was uncovered that identified the site as the ancient city of Pompeii.
Today the uncovered city of Pompeii covers five square miles and is being excavated and restored. It is open to the public with admission starting at about US$22. Pre-purchase “skip the line” tickets cost about US$27 with group tour tickets starting at US$50 (Online Tickets HERE).
You can visit Pompeii on full-day bus tours from Rome, just 130 miles away, or on your own you can take a train to Naples and switch to a Naples regional train. Purchase tickets in Naples for Pompeii Scavi.
If you are in Naples on a cruise you can catch a train to Pompeii from Naples near the cruise port. Go to the Porta Nolana Circumvesuviana station only a few blocks from the Naples port entrance. Circumvesuviana is the regional Naples train system that runs around Mount Vesuvius with stops at Herculaneum, Pompeii and Sorrento. At the Circumvesuviana train ticket window purchase tickets for Pompeii Scavi. The cost should be about US$9 round trip. Once at Pompeii Scavi, exit the train station, turn to your right, and walk about 50 meters to the entrance to the Pompeii ruins.