Formerly a great Roman city, Pompeii is now a byword for disaster, having been buried under the weight of lava from Mount Vesuvius in the 1st century, wiping the city off the face of the earth. For the Romans, the burial of Pompeii was an epic event, and one of the greatest tragedies of their long rule. For the modern day tourist, though, the preservation of the city in ash for all those years means Pompeii is now one of the best surviving examples of what a Roman city would have been like, and a genuinely unique draw.
The entire town is a museum, and in it you’ll find far more than the bare bones of the city have been kept impressively intact. Walking through Pompeii you’ll find all the details still on show, from the solidified bodies of those who couldn’t escape the eruption to household scenes so natural you can almost imagine the meal on the table alongside the pottery that still is.
The detail is overwhelming, but Pompeii is impressive in scale, too. You’ll uncover all the traditional draws of a Roman city, from the Forum and the Theatre to streets still marked with the ruts from heavy carts passing by, and a 1st century brothel with erotic imagery carved into the wall. There are several impressive homes, thought to have belonged to rich local merchants, and a huge basilica courthouse.
Pompeii is more than overwhelming enough in its own right, but if you’re a real history buff and can’t resist seeing the full extent of the local Roman heritage, you’ll find some of the more delicate relics have been transferred to neighbouring Naples (you’ll want to be heading there, anyway), and there are a few other small villages around that were also well preserved by the volcanic activity.
There can hardly be a better insight into Roman life than Pompeii – no, not even Rome – and if you’re in the area it’s the one utterly unmissable tourist sight. It’s hot and dusty, but insightful, bizarre and utterly essential.
Positano is a picturesque resort town on Italy's Amalfi Coast
A nearly vertical town, Positano spills down from the cornice like a waterfall of pink, cream and yellow villas. The oldest hous…
Amalfi lies at the mouth of a deep ravine at the foot of Monte Cerrasto. It is the main town on one of the most beautiful and celebrated areas in the world: the Amalfi Coast (Costiera Amalfit…
At first glance, Sorrento is nothing more than a typical tourist town sitting atop striking cliffs looking out over the Bay of Naples towards Mount Vesuvius and packed with dozens of English …