Though there is plenty in Rome to see for a tourist new to the city, it would be fairly hard to resist the pull of nearby Pompeii. I would suggest making the trip to anyone who has at least three days in the area, so long as they understand it is not something that should be rushed.This is definitely a destination to savor.
The journey from Rome to Naples takes about an hour (and can be booked here), followed by a half hour trip on the commuter train–called the Circumvesuviana (that can be booked here). The train from Rome to Naples is relatively inexpensive and quite comfortable, while the commuter train is a touch skanky. Travelers shouldn’t be scared though; the destination is more than worth the endurance of urine stench one pays to get there.
This is definitely a side trip that adults and children alike will enjoy. I remember being oddly obsessed with things like the Titanic, Hiroshima, and Pompeii as a child, which probably means something dark and morbid about my personality. Oh well. In any case, who of any age doesn’t enjoy a nice set of volcanic ruins? This fairly well preserved piece of Roman history (those who want really well preserved, could check out neighboring Herculaneum instead) was pretty mesmerizing, to the point where time sort of got away from us. We spent 3-4 hours exploring, and–be warned–the time really flies. Some lovely photos? Sure.
There are temples, markets, homes, gardens, bakeries, theaters, baths, bars, and brothels at which to marvel among these ruins. None of it is to be missed, though admittedly the whorehouse is likely not for the kiddies. The mural paintings within will remind any adults visiting, however, (in case the 700 bars along the way failed to convince) that naughty things have been going on for millenia, and to not get so hysterical about how debauched things are in 2014. Lessons for everyone!
The perfect end to a day of wandering Pompeii would be–as it was with us–a trip into Naples for Pizza. We were unable to see the city itself due to time restrictions, but the quick trip to L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele was more than worth the overpriced cab drive we took there from the train station. It should go without saying to check maps and beware cab drivers who tend to take advantage of clueless Americans, but we were tired and hungry. So we paid about 20 Euros for said cab when the distance can be walked in minutes. Another lesson learned.
This pizzeria is over 100 years old, has no frills, and is worthy of every Trip Advisor rave. They do not serve the sort of pizza to which most Americans are accustomed (the only options are with cheese and without–it’s just dough and sauce with no other toppings available), but I’m fairly certain they will make converts of anyone who gives it a try. It was absolutely perfect. With one tiny exception. And it should be obvious from these photos what the exception is.
I would like to suggest something to the city of Naples, now. Less Julia Roberts, please. There are posters of her everywhere, and–just as I thought I had escaped it and was sitting down to the best slice of pizza I’ve ever eaten–there was a photo of her staring back at me. I think it has something to do with some movie they made here, but even still.
To anyone without a bizarre, unrelenting hatred for Julia Roberts, there won’t be a problem.