Walking through the volcanic ruins of an ancient city is quite a remarkable experience. As I’m sure you remember from grade school history, the Pompeii ruins are the result of Italy’s Mt. Vesuvius erupting in 79 A.D. and wiping out the city in just a matter of hours. Walking through the city today, it doesn’t take much to envision it in its heyday. What remains of the exquisite architecture and magnificent, if a bit eccentric, statues will truly take your breath away. It’s amazing to walk through streets made up of stones that were hand-laid nearly 2,000 years ago. Imagine standing in an amphitheater that once showcased gladiatorial games in front of over 1,000 spectators! The intricate tile work seen throughout the ruined city is incomparable to anything in modern day architecture. It’s just awesome all around!
The city is much larger than we anticipated, and we realized upon arrival that we would have to pick and choose which things we wanted to see most. It is possible to walk the whole city in a day, but it was too much for our kiddos after all the trekking they did in the days prior at Mt. Vesuvius and the Isle of Capri.
- Iconic Pompeian Sculptures- Lots of cute butts.
- Pompeii Spectacula- Believed to be the oldest Roman amphitheater in the world!
- Thermal Baths- These immaculate city baths had a crazy awesome heating system that functioned by running heated water through the cavities in the wall.
- Plaster-Cast Bodies- This was our son’s favorite part. Bodies of victims of the 79 A.D. eruption were entombed in ash, leaving them frozen in their final moments alive. Archeologists have been able to preserve 89 bodies in plaster casts and perform further studies. Amazing!
- Beautiful Mosaic Tile Work- The craftsmanship is unbelievable.
- Striking Roman Temples- Standing small in the midst of what remains of the temples created for Greek gods is arresting!
On our journey to marvel these treasures, we were fascinated by the precision of symmetry architects were able to accomplish so many years ago. The houses are aligned so neatly and the streets meet evenly. The ingenious water system Romans engineered throughout the city is still running to this day! It is breathtaking to view Pompeii’s vineyards, which have been excavated and replanted, while standing on the stone wall that surrounds the city. How bemusing it is to see so much devastation, yet also so much incredible preservation in one place.
Helpful things for families:
- There are restrooms located at the entrance points- However, once you enter the city, there is only one restroom in the center. When we visited, there was quite a bit of construction and maintenance happening, and the only restrooms available were at the main entrance and outside the ruins. Just something important to keep in mind, especially with young children. Also, common in Italy (and Europe in general), public toilets usually cost about 1€. They don’t always have toilet seats, FYI.
- Strollers are NOT recommended- I am so glad we didn’t have a stroller with us! We would have struggled. There are a lot of stairs and lots of gravel and bumpy streets. Other families with strollers appeared to be experiencing some difficulties.
- There are no food or drink vendors inside the city- Definitely bring water. We were there in April, and the sun was quite hot. There are several vendors outside the main entrance to purchase bottled water from.
- Bring cash- A given in Europe in general, but worth noting. Many restaurants and vendors do not accept credit cards. Having a handful of single euros and 50 cent pieces for using public toilets and purchasing water is a good idea.
- Wear proper footwear- Like we obviously did in these pictures (NOT)! I’m trying to remember why we were dressed the way we were. I think it was our last full day in Italy and we were down to the last of our clean clothes and our hiking shoes were damp and dirty. In hindsight, damp and dirty hiking shoes would have made for a more comfortable excursion (even if we wouldn’t have looked as stylish as Italians always do!).
- Admission Info HERE– On the first Sunday of the month, admission is FREE to all. It is also free for minors on any given day.
- Map of the city HERE– I wish we would have checked out the map ahead of time so we could decide which order we wanted to see things in.
- Restaurants- There are several food vendors and souvenir stalls just outside the city wall, as well as more restrooms. Always good to know!
If you are ever in the Campania region of Italy, do make time in your itinerary to visit magnificent Pompeii. And be sure to bring the kids!