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