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 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.
The Grand Theatre
Accommodates up to 5000 people and has surprisingly excellent acoustics.
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

Explore Pompeii & The Amalfi Coast: Private Day Trip from Rome
Discover the ancient city of Pompeii, whose ruins lie in the shadow of the Vesuvius, and the pretty coastal town of Positano on the picturesque Amalfi Coast, with a private guide on this private day trip from Rome. 

On your private day trip, you will: 

  • Be picked up by your chauffeur from your hotel and drive south down  the "Highway of the Sun" towards Pompeii;
  • Meet your expert private guide at the entrance to the archaeological site of Pompeii, the most famously well-preserved city of the ancient world;
  • Enjoy a fully guided 2-hour private tour of the ruins of Pompeii, ancient Rome's port town and holiday destination; 
  • Walk around the amphitheatre and learn about the theatrical shows and gladiatorial fights; 
  • See the houses, apartments, and businesses of the local Pompeiians, and learn about daily life in this important Roman port town before the devastating volcanic eruption ended it all in 79 A.D;
  • Admire many mosaics and frescos, amazingly well-preserved thanks to the volcanic ash and lava, see depictions of myths and gods and goddesses, some paintings of food, and even some political graffiti;
  • Walk down ancient cobbled streets, where carriage wheel marks are still visible, visit the bakery and the fast food joints; 
  • Wander through the opulent bathhouses and see the magnificent town square with a spectacular view towards Vesuvius;
  • See the incredibly moving plaster casts of the people and animals that were killed during the devastating eruption of Vesuvius in August 79 A.D;
  • Hear exactly what happened that fateful day, about the massive volcanic eruption, the ash cloud and lava flows, and eyewitness accounts;
  • Drive to Positano, an idyllic and picturesque village on the Amalfi Coast;
  • Have a well-deserved break and  a delicious lunch (not included) at one of the many wonderful local restaurants, your guide will be happy to make recommendations; 
  • Enjoy a relaxed and fascinating tour of Positano with your guide, and learn all about its history and fame;
  • Bask the sunshine of the Amalfi Coast and walk on the beach;
  • Meet up with your driver and enjoy a scenic and relaxed drive back to Rome (about 3 hours). 

Pompeii is one of the most famous and well-preserved ruined cities of the ancient world, thanks to the dramatic and devastating eruption of the nearby volcano, Vesuvius. Your local expert guide will show you all the highlights of this extraordinary ghost town, where you'll learn all about daily life in Pompeii, and the dramatic events that put an end to it all in August 79 A.D. 

After your tour of Pompeii, head to Positano for a relaxing afternoon in this picturesque coastal village on the famous Amalfi Coast, popular with celebrities and locals alike. Enjoy a delicious lunch, some free time for shopping and strolling on the beach, and a fascinating guided tour before heading back to Rome. 

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: 

  • Be picked up from your hotel in Rome by your private driver,  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, 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 entrance 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 (cost 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; 

After being pick-up in Rome, drive south on the "Highway of the Sun. 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).


Join the fastest growing community of professional tour guides.


Use our easy to integrate toolset to include Tours & Attractions in your customer journey.