Pompeii via Naples

There’s a bit of discussion and confusion on sites like Trip Advisor over whether Rome to Pompeii is doable in a day or not. It is. We left Rome’s Termini station on the Frecciarossa train, that we’d booked back in March, at 7.35 and arrived in Naples at 8.45 after a journey that peaked at around 300 kmph!

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After an obligatory sfogliatella and cuppa (yes tea) we mooched downstairs to the Circumvesiana line, taking the train towards Sorrento.  After a trip of around 35 minutes, we arrived at Pompeii Scavi Villa Dei Misteri. Dismissing the prospect of a trip up the volcano, we crossed the road to the site, choosing to just explore at our own steam with the help of a map.

It seemed to make sense to head towards the furthest point on the map – the amphitheatre – first and then work our way back towards the entrance.

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VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W

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The amphitheatre seems to have been in a more exclusive and less crowded part of the city, with a palestra and vineyard both nearby…

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These tree-lined streets with their larger houses contrasted with the tightly packed streets on and around the Via dell’Abbondanza (Street of Abundance) and closer to the Forum.20130516-200522.jpg

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W

One of the main surprises for me was the size of the city – ok I knew it was big, but not quite how big.  Just how did something like the amphitheatre pictured above lie so long undiscovered?   I wasn’t quite as perturbed by the ever-present volcano as I thought I would be – I knew someone somewhere was probably monitoring it – but it still shocked to see how close people still build their houses to both it, and the ruins of Pompeii..

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And then there were the human details: like this seat that someone from quite a well-off family would have sat in to look at the volcano in the distance…

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Or the carved lion table legs whose inscription showed that they had once belonged to the man who had struck the first blow on Julius Caesar.

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Returning to Rome, we opted for the slower intercity train which took us on a slightly different route though the mountainous towns and villages including Formia.  It was slightly late running, but we were still back in Rome by a reasonable 7.30pm.

Next stop: Life & Death in Pompeii & Herculaneum at the British Museum, but that’ll have to wait until August.

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