One of the world’s most legendary sites, a trip to Pompeii is a must for any visitor to Italy. The legendary explosion of Vesuvius in 79AD buried the city in 4-6 meters of volcanic ash and pumice, killing about 2,000 Pompeiians (and 16,000 people overall). Portions of the city have been uncovered over the centuries and excavations are ongoing, as well as conservation efforts.
When to go: if you can visit in the late spring or early fall you’ll be rewarded with wonderful weather and fewer crowds than normal. The archeological park is vast, with limited shade, so it can be a tiring experience during the height of summer but is truly pleasant in the shoulder season. You should budget about 3-4 hours to explore Pompeii – the city is divided into 9 quadrants and the official website has identified a number of routes that you can explore via an interactive map. If you are traveling in the summer, consider visiting Pompeii in the evenings when the archeological park hosts special events and exhibitions. And if you’re a culture hunter, you can visit the nearby sites of Herculaneum, Oplontis, Stabiae and Boscoreale, too.
I would highly suggest touring Pompeii with a private guide who can point out interesting details and share anecdotes about life in the city thousands of years ago. I visited Pompeii last year with Alex Falanga and loved his approach which was informative yet entertaining (it’s not always an easy balance to strike!) but Alex is an expert storyteller and can tailor the tour to meet your needs and interests.
For the full Pompeii experience, stay overnight at Bosco de’ Medici – a resort and winery located a short drive from the archeological park. This family-run property hosts delicious wine tastings beneath a shady pergola where you can try wines from Vesuvius paired with traditional dishes from the Campania region. You can even order a Pompeii-themed menu to try cuisine the ancient Romans would have enjoyed in the city! The resort has a pool, horseback riding school and farm so it’s perfect for families.