The Internet's most comprehensive Travel website for Italy
Use quote marks to search for exact names eg "Hotel Florence"

Statue of Apollo, Pompeii

Body at Pompeii

New greenery at the ruins at Pompeii,
by Jesse Andrews

Welcome to Pompeii
Jesse's Journeys in  Southern Italy

Population: n/a
Official site:
WikiPedia: Pompeii
Map:  MapQuest

Most school children know about the destruction of Pompeii, and its entombment in the dust and ash that descended upon it when Mount Vesuvius erupted on August 24th, 79, A.D.

But reading about the destruction of Pompeii (or Herculaneum or Stabaie which were also obliterated by the eruption), or even seeing pictures of the now excavated city, does not prepare one for the impact of standing in the midst of its ruins, or looking at the bodies of the dead, frozen in last moments of horror.

Pompeii was completely buried and remained so until 1748, when it was rediscovered and when the first excavations began.  Archaelogists are still working the site, and Pompeii is still yielding interesting and valuable information about Roman town life.

Eyewitness account: Letters from Pliny the Younger to Tacitus.  The author was 18 at the time and living with his uncle in nearby Misenum.  More...

Pompeii, about 20 miles south of Naples, is on a fertile plain, with the Bay of Naples to the west, and the Appenine mountains on the east.

The first settlers in the area were likely a tribal group, the Oscans, who may have founded Pompeii in the 8th Century BC.  There are also traces of Ionian settlements tracing back to the same century.  Eventually, the surrounding area came under Hellenic control, with Pompeii and Herculaneum serving as principal cities in the region.

Read Rebecca East's romantic novel:  "A.D. 62: Pompeii".  The first 6 chapters free.   More...

Eventually, in the 5th century BC, the area came under the domination of the Samnites, who, in turn, were driven out by the Romans in the 8th century BC.  The people of Pompeii resented and ultimately resisted Roman rule and joined various other tribal groups against Rome in the Social Wars of the 1st century BC.  Pompeii was soundly defeated in 89 BC.

Ninety years later, Mount Vesuvius erupted, but in the interim period, Pompeii, and the other cities and towns of Campania, including those along the Amalfi Coast, enjoyed a period of prosperity.  The coastal towns in particular became retreats and resorts for Roman nobility and wealthy gentry.

Vesuvius was inactive up until it erupted in August, 79 AD, although the area suffered a series of frequent and destructive earthquakes beginning 17 years earlier.

The eruption was sudden and  instantly cataclysmic.   Millions of tons of lava, stone and ash spewed from Vesuvius and engulfed local farms and vineyards.  Mephitic gas rolled across the countryside, killing  people and animals in their tracks. Ash and debris piled on Pompeii and other nearby communities to a depth of over 30 feet, sealing them for centuries

During the excavation  archaelogists discovered voids in the solidified ash, the spaces left by decayed bodies of humans and animals.  By filling them with plaster of paris, numerous spectral figures, frozen in time, were cast for those in future civilizations living to see, and bear witness.

As you tour the ruins you will enter the villas of the wealthy and the homes of the less well to do.  There are several inns and restaurants, bakeries and even a brothel.  Take a look at the Grand Theatre is still used, the Gladiator's Barracks and the Amphitheatre which dates back to 80 BC and is one of Italy's oldest.

The ruins are large and to do them justice will require a full day, preferably with a professional tour guide.

Other Resources about Pompeii:

Region of Campania and the Amalfi Coast



By Car: 24km (15 miles) S of Naples, 237km (147 miles) SE of Rome.
By Train: TrenItalia from Naples




Garden in ruins at Pompeii,
by Jesse Andrews