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Pompeii and Vesuvius National Park

May 2021

The weather these days is cool, there aren’t many tourists around and after the covid hard times, we really wish to start traveling and exploring again.

Today we are in Pompeii. Ivan, our guide, is waiting for us at the entrance at 10 am. We have agreed on a two and a half hour guided tour as we also will to go to Mount Vesuvius in the afternoon.

We purchased tickets for Pompeii from the official website which refers to Ticketone (€16 adults, children under 18 free)

Usually this beautiful avenue must be crossed by thousands of tourists.

viale ingresso Pompei
Entrance of Pompeii Archeological Park

Due to Covid restrictions, some areas of the excavations are not accessible so Ivan, who is an archaeologist, takes us to discover the places he has selected for our visit.

The Odeon or Theatrum Tectum was a very small theater dedicated specifically to listening to music and performing the most popular theater genre at the time, mime. The structure was entirely covered by a functional roof to improve its acoustics.

Odeon, Pompei
Odeon or Theatrum Tectum, Pompeii

In ancient times, people of all social classes used to go to Pompeii such as merchants coming from far away. Very much like our cafeterias, the Thermopolium offered a quick meal with drinks and hot food to busy customers. There are about 100 thermopolia in Pompeii.

Termopolio Pompei
Thermopolium, Pompei

The roads still retain the ruts of the carts and have those characteristic alignments of raised boulders that were used to cross without getting dirty, since there was no sewage system and the drains were open to the sky.

solchi strade Pompei
Ruts of the cars in Pompeii

The House of Lovers is the only house in Pompeii that has kept the double peristyle, or the double level of columns that allows you to see the ancient spaces, it was recently restored and opened after a very long closure due to unavailability following 1980 earthquake. The most famous graffiti gives the house its name and says: “Lovers are like bees because they live a life as sweet as honey” Someone ironically added below: Velle – “maybe”

Il doppio Perisitilio della Casa degli Amanti Pompei
House of Lovers double peristyle, Pompeii, Wikimedia Commons
House of Lovers graffiti, Pompeii
Ritratto del poeta Menandro Pompei
Portrait of the poet Menander, Pompeii

The House of Menander is a luxurious villa which owes its name to the portrait of the Greek poet Menander. We know that this beautiful  residence belonged to Quintus Poppeo Sabino, as this name was found in a bronze seal placed in the servants’ quarters. Only the owner’s name could be so important as to be imprinted on a seal to validate ownership of objects and contracts. Quintus Poppeo was a rich freedman, aedile in office around 40 AD.

Casa del Menandro Pompei
House of Menander, Pompeii Wikimedia Commons
Cisium riproduzione carro Pompei
Cisium - In the stable there is an iron reproduction of an agricultural cart, whose only original pieces are the iron and bronze parts
Casa del Menandro Pompei
The public part of the house where guests were received
La casa del Criptoportico Pompei
House of Cryptoporticus , Pompeii

The House of Cryptoporticus owes its name to a luxurious cryptoporticus with large windows, a living room and four thermal rooms covered by vaults originally decorated in fine stucco.

casa del Criptoportico Pompei
The thermal rooms of the house
Triclinio casa del Criptoportico Pompei
The triclinium: a masonry living room as in custom at the time

Ancient Romans used to have elections every year.

In Pompeii you can see electoral posters almost everywhere. The candidate’s supporters wrote slogans. Generally the candidate’s name was written in larger letters and followed by acronyms.

IIvir stands for duoviro, one of the two magistracies of Pompeii. The duoviri (two men) were the chief magistrates of the city.

AED stands for aedile, the city’s second judiciary.

DRP stands for Dignum Rei Publicae, i.e. worthy of public affairs.

OVF stands for Oro Facis Faciatis, or, please do, vote.

Iscrizioni elettorali Pompei
Helvium Sabinum Aed(ilem) d(ignum) r(ei) p(ublicae) v(irum) b(onum) o(ro) v(os) f(aciatis) or: "Please elect Elvio Sabino aedile, worthy of the state, good man"

The two and a half hour visit goes by fast. Ivan was always able to keep the attention of the whole group high, also comprising children and teenagers. Total cost of the visit €130. Well deserved, here is our review:

It’s 12.30 am. At 3.00 pm we have the entrance to Vesuvius National Park. Tickets can only be purchased online. The cost is €10 for adults, €8 for concessions. In about 40 minutes, we reach the park.

Access to the crater takes place through the gate at an altitude of 1.000m. The car must be left in the rest areas along the road. Once through the entrance, each group is given a brief explanation by one of the Alpine and Volcanological Guides of the Campania Region. Then you proceed independently.

Sentiero 5 Vesuvio
Trail no. 5 towards the crater of Vesuvius

The gentle ascent continues for about 800 m and is repaid by panoramic views on the Valle del Gigante, which is tinged with yellow due to broom blooming at this time of the year.

Going up the path is a unique and exciting experience, both for the awareness of walking along the crater of an active volcano and for the view over a large part of Campania, Castellammare di Stabia and the Sorrento Coast on one side, Naples and Pozzuoli on the other.

Pendici del Vesuvio ricoperte di Ginestre
Slopes of Vesuvius covered with broom
In the background the Sorrento Coast and Capri
Cratere del Vesuvio
The crater of Vesuvius

The hike is a couple of hours long and the descent is along the same path. After all these efforts, a good pizza is a must, so we go back to Pompeii to a pizzeria recommended by our Pompeii guide.

pizza napoletana

An excellent pizza at a reasonable price is the best conclusion to a wonderful day.

Thanks to Greta Foschi, Sara Bigi and Floriana Campanella for the photos