Smothered by a volcano and buried for over 1,500 years, Pompeii's beautiful buildings and art survive for all to see today.

TravelCurious Tip

Pick up a free map at the entrance before you go wandering, as the site is quite poorly labelled.

Beneath the ashes

Just south of Rome near modern Naples is Pompeii. Founded in the 8th-6th centuries BC at the base of Mt. Vesuvius, it was a thriving ancient Roman town until 79 AD, when the volcano of Vesuvius erupted. In a matter of hours the entire town was covered beneath several metres of ash and pumice, and all life was extinguished. Many unfortunate Pompeiians died in their homes while those who fled to coast were suffocated by the fumes. Rediscovered in the Middle Ages, the site, like nearby Ostia, now provides an invaluable insight into life at the time: objects, buildings and paintings have been astoundingly well-preserved, as they were buried away from light and moisture for over 1,500 years.

So why would the Pompeiians settle beside an active volcano? The answer lies in the soil: the volcanic nature of the Sarno valley meant that the land was extremely fertile, so its inhabitants enjoyed a very prosperous agricultural lifestyle. The town was also in a great strategic position to defend itself against invasion. Pompeii flourished under agricultural advancement and maritime trade and soon became one of the wealthiest and busiest cities in the Roman Empire. Visitors can still see examples of this affluence in the buildings and relics on show in Pompeii today.

A wide range of buildings survive, from the lavish villas of nobles and rich merchants with ornate decorations to the humble houses of workmen built around their studios or shops. The House of Vettii has the best-preserved frescoes in the town, and depicts the god Priapus warding off evil spirits with his enormous manhood. The House and Workshop of Verecundus is particularly interesting for its insights into working life, and the beautiful frescoes showing Mercury, Venus and other gods protecting workers in their daily enterprise.

One of Pompeii’s best-preserved villas is the Villa of the Mysteries. Inside is perhaps the largest surviving painting of the ancient world: a magnificent frieze of a new bride being initiated into the cult of Dionysus, the wine god. Just as sumptuous is the House of Menander, with its beautiful Corinthian columns, paintings and courtyard: many precious artefacts of silver and gold were found here (now housed in Naples Archaeological Museum).

Public decency

Pompeii had its own forum, where there are a number of sacred temples. The 6th century Temple of Apollo displays huge statues of the god and his twin Diana, and a column topped by a sundial. The centre of religious life in Pompeii was the huge Temple of Jupiter, king of the gods, whose head was found here. Visitors can see sacrificial scenes in the Temple of Vespasian and the splendid Temple of the Egyptian goddess Isis. The prosperous Pompeiians also had a number of baths and two theatres; the amphitheatre, built in 80 BC, which is the oldest still standing in the world, held about 12,000 people.

The town was first rediscovered in 1599, when the excavation of an underground channel uncovered some frescoed rooms. The architect Domenico Fontana swiftly reburied them. This act may have saved them from the violence of the counter-reformation: the paintings’ frequently erotic content would have been deemed in very bad taste at the time. Even today, minors are not allowed to view the Priapus mural without the permission of an adult!

Proper excavation took place in the 18th and 19th centuries, during which Giuseppe Fiorelli invented the plaster injection technique that allows us to see the bodies of victims as casts of the cavities they left in the ash. Many of these are now on view in the Naples Archaeological Museum, and their extraordinary preservation of the inhabitants’ dying moments is very moving. Don’t miss a daytrip to Pompeii for a poignant and truly remarkable vision of life - and death - in the Roman Empire.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Rome
One of the Amalfi Coast's most picturesque villages, set atop a hill with a long sandy beach.
The Grand Theatre
Accommodates up to 5000 people and has surprisingly excellent acoustics.
The Forum at Pompeii
Built around the fourth century BC, during the Samnite era: it was a small open area around which shops were placed.
The Amphitheatre of Pompeii
The oldest stone building of its kind known to mankind, dating back to 80 BC.
House of the Faun
A luxury Roman house that was buried during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD and rediscovered during the archaeological excavations of ancient Pompeii.
Lupanare, The Brothel
A window into the 'private' life of the Ancient Romans. The brothels (from Latin Lupa, she-wolf, ie prostitute), were the Roman places dedicated to mercenary sexual pleasure.

Related Tours

Pompeii Private Car Tour (On Request Only)
Spend a day exploring the ancient ruins of Pompeii, with was submerged in a time-capsule of rubble and ash following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. 

  • Visit the ancient ruins of Pompeii from Rome by private car.
  • Your own private guide to show you the best artefacts and points of interest at Pompeii.
  • Learn about recent advances in archaeology and how the city was 'frozen in time'.
  • Explore the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.
  • Completely bespoke tour experience: flexible, tailored, private and professional.
  • No need to worry about time or getting back to your hotel.

AD 79. A devastating volcanic eruption at Mount Vesuvius results in an entire Roman town being completely submerged in rubble and ash. The majority of the town's inhabitants manage to flee and the bodies of the 10% who are left behind remain preserved in time. 

Despite the suffering and destruction wrought on the town by the eruption, the disaster is the only reason that the ways of life of this advanced ancient civilisation could gradually be pieced together; indeed, without the eruption, such an intimate connection between past and present would simply not exist: ash buried much of the town, preserving it as a wonderful archaeological resource for future generations – the buildings, art, artefacts, and bodies forever frozen offer a unique window on the ancient world.

Due to the vast size of Pompeii, a visit must be well-planned to ensure you get the most out of your time. On this tour, you will have your own private guide and so will be able to maximise your time and focus on the things that interest you. Uncover the most fascinating artefacts, without the hindrance of being in a large group. 

Your day will begin in the early morning in Rome, where you will be collected by private car from your hotel and be driven to Pompeii with your guide. You will spend several hours on site exploring and discussing the artefacts with your guide before driving to Naples for lunch and a visit to the Archaeology Museum. You will then be able to relax after a long day on your return journey to Rome by car.

We built this tour because 
there are many misconceptions and myths regarding Pompeii, so your guide will be able to distinguish fact from fiction.
Pompeii & Naples: Private Day Trip from Rome
Discover the beauty, drama and tragedy of the buried city of Pompeii and tour the modern city of Naples on this private full-day trip from Rome. On your tour you will: 

  • Enjoy the comfort of a luxury air-conditioned vehicle and private driver all day, as well as the personalized attention of your private English-speaking tour guide in Pompeii and Naples. 
  • Be picked up from your hotel in Rome by your driver and relax and enjoy the scenic drive south to Naples. 
  • Meet your private tour guide for the day at the entrance to the archaeological site of Pompeii on arrival, now a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Visit the immaculately preserved ancient ruins of the prosperous ancient city of Pompeii, in the shadow of the volcano Vesuvius, with your local guide. Your skip-the-line tickets to the archaeological site are included. 
  • Stop for lunch in Naples at a local haunt recommended by your guide for a delicious Neapolitan lunch (not included) 
  • Enjoy a customizable walking and driving tour of the vibrant city of Naples in the afternoon. 
  • Return to Rome in time for dinner. 
Drive south from Rome, along the "Highway of the Sun" passing the Appia Antica –the oldest Roman road and made famous by Spartacus and the rebel slaves, and the abbey of Monte Cassino, an area where some of the fiercest fightings of WW2 took place. Arriving in Pompeii, you'll meet your local private guide and learn about the infamous eruption of Vesuvius that would bury the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum – preserving them for two thousand years in lava, ash and rubble. Pompeii was a popular seaside resort for many well-to-do Romans and a thriving port town full of trade.  

Walk the streets of this ghost town with your guide who will tell you all about the history of Pompeii and the way of life of those who lived here. Visit the bathhouses, the Forum, the fast food shops, the villas of the rich, the apartments of the less well off, see political graffiti, admire colourful frescoes and mosaics, spot the wheel and hoof marks gauged into the cobbled streets, and step into the amphitheatre and temples of this ancient civilisation. 

It is exciting, humbling, and moving to see the plaster casts of the people and animals who tragically lost their lives in the eruption; your expert guide will tell you all the known details of everything that happened on that fateful August day in 79 AD, as well as the extensive work that has gone into the excavations and preservation of the city. 

After your two-hour tour of the UNESCO world heritage site, take a break for a delicious and authentic Neapolitan lunch and enjoy the afternoon in downtown Naples, learning about the evolution of this modern city. 

Before heading back to Rome, you will have two hours at your disposal with your tour guide to explore Napoli. We suggest a walking or driving tour of the city, that takes in sites such as the Castel Nuovo, Naples Harbour, Piazza del Plebiscito, Naples Cathedral, the complex of Santa Chiara and of course Naples' most famous street: Spaccanapoli. 

Alternative touring options include the Naples Archeological Museum, the Cappella Sansevero and the Catacombs of San Gennaro. These three attractions require pre-booked tickets. If you wish to visit one of these, please notify us before the tour and Travel Curious will arrange tickets for you (pending availability).
Day Excursion: Pompeii and Amalfi Coast (Group Tour)
Embark on an in-depth exploration of the ruins at Pompeii and a relaxing drive along the beautiful Amalfi Coast, with time to wind dow and explore the jewel-box seaside town of Positano. 

  •  Walk through the ruins of Pompeii
  • Enjoy a scenic drive along the stunning Amalfi Coast 
  • Buy gifts and/or food in Positano 
  • Round-trip transport & a friendly English-speaking tour leader to avoid common  problems 

Pompeii: Archeological Time Capsule

AD 79. A devastating volcanic eruption at Mount Vesuvius, resulting in an entire town being submerged in rubble and ash. The destruction meant an ancient civilisation was preserved in time, with Pompeii now acting as a rich archaeological resource for future generations. Gradually, parts of this civilisation have been pieced together- giving us an intimate connection between past and present which wouldn't exist otherwise. 

Amalfi Coast: Expansive Emerald Waters 

Journey along the Amalfi coast towards Positano- with its postcard beaches, ancient fishing port, and artisan boutiques.  Enjoy some free time here and mingle with the locals!

Your final stop will be to Amalfi, a town which enjoyed a prestigious past when it was once a major naval power. Made up of a labyrinth of narrow lanes and alleyways that climb the surrounding hills, the town features typical Mediterranean style architecture with houses piled one on top of the other. 


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