Pompeii: Day Trip from Rome

Mr. TWS always looks forward to visiting historic places, especially those in which his interest had been sparked many years ago as a young boy in northern Wisconsin. Such was the case with Pompeii. So I’ve asked him to share his perspectives about our day trip from Rome to Pompeii and Sorrento on a tour with Walks of Italy.

A fascination with history

By Mr. TWS

I think the beginning of my love for travel stems from my interest in and love for history. My interest in history bloomed in the sixth grade with my excellent teacher who enthusiastically spoke of ancient history and inserted many fascinating stories and personal feelings into his absorbing narratives. Particular stories really had a lasting impact and among those was the story of the apocalyptic destruction of ancient Pompeii by the eruption of the Mount Vesuvius volcano in AD 79. The thought of the instantaneous destruction that froze people in place was both frightening and fascinating to me.

The walls of Pompeii with Mount Vesuvius looming in the background -- on a day trip from Rome with Walks of Italy

The walls of Pompeii with Mount Vesuvius looming in the background

Pompeii tour with Walks of Italy

Our tour began in Rome early on a clear sunny morning. As we traveled by coach through the beautiful rural areas of the Campania region, our guide provided an interesting narrative pointing out key viewpoints and important historic locations. For example, she mentioned the Appian Way (another tidbit from my teacher that had intrigued me and now has regained my attention as a place to explore on a future trip) and pointed out vistas of the Apennines and picturesque landscapes. Nearing our destination, we saw Mount Vesuvius looming over the area.

Highlights and surprises of Pompeii

The archaeological discovery of Pompeii revealed many details of the way of life within the Roman Empire at that time so perfectly preserved by the volcanic ash that covered the city. What an amazing place to visit and see this window in time revealing a thriving city during a fascinating period in history, the Pax Romana.

Small section of the ruins of Pompeii -- day trip from Rome

Ruins of Pompeii

It occurred to me that with Vesuvius still an active volcano, we were potentially vulnerable to Pompeii’s fate. The thought quickly faded as I sighted the ruins of Pompeii and became excited with thoughts of what we were about to see there today.

Mount Vesuvius looming over Pompeii and the surrounding area as seen during our day trip from Rome with Walks of Italy

Mount Vesuvius looming over Pompeii and the surrounding area

Our expert archaeologist Walks of Italy guide was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about all aspects of Pompeii, its history, and archaeological findings as she led us on an informative and enjoyable walking tour of Pompeii. My first impression as we began the tour and had our first glimpses of the city was that Pompeii was a much larger city that I had expected. I had always envisioned more of a village, but in the first century Pompeii was a thriving city populated by around 11,000 people (or more depending on which estimate you use — the surrounding area brought the total to at least 15,000).

Catherine of Traveling with Sweeney walking through the ruins of Pompeii, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Italy --- a day trip from Rome

Sweeney walking Pompeii streets during the Walks of Italy tour

We walked along the many streets of Pompeii stopping at key buildings along the way, especially ones that displayed particular aspects of Pompeii life, structures, art, or implements. Our tour was well-paced, enabling us to get questions answered and cover and explore most of the large area.

I was also surprised at how much of Pompeii had been excavated — about two-thirds of the area of the city. Its wide paved major streets, an expansive forum, and a large amphitheater were among the highlights that show that Pompeii was a city of significance at the time of the devastating eruption. Many important Romans owned houses there and it was also a vacation destination for other Romans.

Wide paved street in the ruins of Pompeii in Italy -- a day trip from Rome

Wide paved street of Pompeii

The amphitheater was one of my favorite aspects of our tour. It is believed to be the first Roman amphitheater to have been made of stone. It is the oldest surviving Roman amphitheater (built about 70 BC, it is over 100 years older than the Coliseum), and seated somewhere between 12,000 and 20,000 people.

Tourists exploring the Pompeii Amphitheater -- a day trip from Rome

Pompeii Amphitheater

It was exciting to walk across the amphitheater floor and imagine the gladiator fights that took place there over two millennia ago. I thought it was fun to climb the stairs to the top row of the amphitheater and imagine spectators going to their seats.

Day trip from Rome: Pompeii -- Garden courtyard of a Pompeii residence

Garden courtyard of a Pompeii residence

Sweeney and I were both struck by one large wealthy family’s home which included courtyard gardens and colorful murals.

Murals and mosaic in wealthy family's home in Pompeii, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Italy

Murals and mosaic in wealthy family’s home

Another interesting aspect about Pompeii lifestyle was the row of brothels. In addition to graphic adornments on the front of each small chamber that identified the business, there were well-preserved murals depicting the services available to facilitate selection — particularly helpful because there were many different languages among clients and workers.

Graphic depictions of services rendered at the brothels of Pompeii

Graphic depictions of services rendered at the brothels

The forum was another impressive aspect of our tour. It was immense with numerous structures, aspects of life in Pompeii, and art. The aspects of the forum that remain enabled us to get a vision of what it might have looked like before the eruption. On the north side facing Vesuvius are remains (walls and columns) of the Temple of Jupiter, columns of the two-story arcades that flanked the west and east side, the Temple of Apollo, and the Basilica.

The forum of Pompeii, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Italy -- a day trip from Rome

The forum of Pompeii

The baths were impressive for the level of restoration, its murals, and the impressive technology they used so long ago.

The frigidarium (cold bath room) of the Stabian Baths at Pompeii, a day trip from Rome

The frigidarium (cold bath room) of the Stabian Baths

The final part of the tour was emotionally moving. We were able to see displays of plaster casts that were formed by filling the cavities left by decomposition of the bodies of people (and animals) frozen in the volcanic ash.

One of the plaster casts of a Pompeii victim

One of the plaster casts of a Pompeii victim

It really emphasized the speed with which the disaster struck though I was surprised to learn that it wasn’t as instantaneous as I had thought. Many in the city were actually able to escape.

I kept this recollection of the Pompeii tour quite high level and left out many sites and details. But hopefully, you can get a sense of what there is to see and you will get a chance to visit sometime to take a tour.

On the lighter side …

Beautiful Sorrento

View of the Bay of Naples from Sorrento, Italy on a day trip from Rome

View of the Bay of Naples from Sorrento

After our immersion into the deep and intense history in Pompeii, a drive of less than an hour south along the coast on the Bay of Naples gave us a chance to enjoy the beauty of this area. During peak season, the tour includes a stop in the town of Positano on the Amalfi Coast. During the off-season (November to March) when we visited, most businesses there are closed, so the beautiful city of Sorrento on the Bay of Naples is on the itinerary instead. Although not on the Amalfi Coast itself, Sorrento is a great base location for those wanting to enjoy the Amalfi Coast drive and towns such as Positano.

Traditional pizza at Pizzeria Aurora in Sorrento, Italy on a day trip from Rome

Lunchtime in Sorrento

After a lunch of pizza (of course), we strolled the town high above the Bay of Naples taking in the panoramic views and cliffside buildings.

Picturesque cliffside buildings in Sorrento, Italy on a day trip from Rome

Picturesque cliffside buildings in Sorrento

The narrow streets are lined with gift shops selling local specialties, especially all things lemon — from limoncello to ceramics painted with lemons.

Sorrento souvenirs --- limoncello (including some in racy bottles) and ceramics

Sorrento souvenirs — limoncello (including some in racy bottles shown bottom left) and ceramics

And then it was back to Rome where over the next few days we continued to be immersed in ancient history worthy of the fascination instilled by my former teacher.

Editor’s tour notes:

  • This is a full day tour from Rome, lasting about 13 hours. Expect to spend several hours in a comfortable coach traveling between Rome and Pompeii, from Pompeii to Sorrento (or from Pompeii to Positano), and then on the return to Rome. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the views and conversation with guides and fellow tourists.
  • Group size is kept to under 15 people making it easy to stay connected with your group and have the ability to ask questions as you go along. The provided microphone/head-set system system allows you to clearly hear and follow your guide.
  • VIP access is a wonderful thing! Pompeii is a major tourist attraction. With Walks of Italy, you won’t have to wait in line for tickets and entry.
  • As we’ve found with other Walks of Italy tours, the guides are expert, entertaining, enthusiastic, and always ready to answer your questions.
  • Visit Walks of Italy for booking and for information about this and other Pompeii tours.

Disclosure: Our Pompeii and Sorrento day trip from Rome was sponsored by Walks of Italy.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

34 thoughts on “Pompeii: Day Trip from Rome

  1. Jackie Smith

    I hate to admit that we’ve never visited Pompeii despite our times in Italy; often times just down the road. Loved the tour you gave us and you’ve convinced me we need to go there the next time the opportunity presents itself!

    1. Mr. TWS

      The Walks of Italy guides are so good. I’m sure it was a key to our really liking Pompeii. As I think of having done it instead on our own, I know it would have enjoyed it a lot less.

  2. Donna Janke

    I too am interested in history. The tour of Pompeii would be fascinating and would certainly give a great look into Roman life. I am impressed by the amount of restoration that appears to be done.

    1. Mr. TWS

      Thanks. Hope you get there soon. Off-summer would be best. Views of bay alone make Sorrento worth a visit. Love pizza and this was very good.

  3. Michele

    It looks like you enjoyed Pompeii a lot more than we did on our visit maybe the key is doing a tour. We found some of the other sites much more interesting but did not see some of the things you mention.

    1. Mr. TWS

      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear. Comment above similar. Even more convinced guide was the difference — especially Walks o Italy.

  4. Doreen Pendgracs

    Walks of Italy sounds like a terrific company to look to for planning time in Italy. I didn’t realize that both Pompeii and Sorrento were both within reach of Rome. Sorrento has been on my list for a long time.

    1. Mr. TWS

      Thanks for the comments. Walks of Italy has been consistently good all the times we’ve tried them. Sorrento was a nice complement to Pompeii. Hope you get there soon.

  5. Michela of Rocky Travel

    I visited Sorrento on my Amalfi Coast Trip many years ago and loved it. Pompei is unique place place of Italy but quite tiring as it is huge. On sunny days it is nearly impossible to tour around. Luckily I was there on a cloudy day and could walk around for hours with no problems. You tour with Walks of Italy seems to be a good one! 🙂

    1. Mr. TWS

      Thanks for commenting. Hope you get there soon. Sounds perfect for you. If you get there not from Rome, views would be something from Vesuvius hike too. Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, and Bay off Naples all good views too.

  6. Kemkem

    I am ashamed to say l have yet to visit Pompeii despite the many visits to Italy. Hopefully, I will rectify it soon. I love how well preserved Pompeii is. I love history too so l’m sure l would enjoy the guided tour very much.

    1. Mr. TWS

      This does sound like you would enjoy a lot. Hope you make it soon. From previous comments, tour (especially WOI) would add a lot. Thanks for commenting.

  7. Kristin Henning

    Glad you were able to visit a place that you’ve been exposed to through teachers and books. Very exciting. We loved Pompeii, too, and went on to see Herculaneum which we can recommend to you. All fascinating.

    1. Mr. TWS

      Thanks. I meant to mention Herculaneum as a tip. Really appreciate your mentioning. I wish everyone had teachers like that. It was great to tie this with the tour.

  8. Cindy

    This sounds like a wonderful day! I’ve wanted to visit Pompeii since I was a kid, but somehow we’ve never gotten there — maybe that’s good, because it looks like they’ve done a lot more excavation over the years (decades). Thanks for the lovely virtual visit.

  9. michele h peterson

    There was a fascinating exhibit of Pompeii artwork at the Royal Ontario Museum a few years ago and it was so interesting to learn about their way of life before the catastrophic explosion. It sounds as though Walks of Italy does a great job of bringing the Pompeii site to life.

  10. Lisa Chavis

    We love, love, love Walks of Italy and this Pompeii and Sorrento tour looks spectacular! The Pompeii tour is something I regret not doing the last time we were in Rome and I’m drooling over the pizza right now…Thanks for sharing details of this wonderful tour – I hope to take it next time we’re in the area!

  11. Sue Reddel

    We did a tour with these folks in New York and loved it. They are a first-class organization. I traveled to Pompeii years ago and your tour and photos brought me right back there. I’d love to take their tour if I ever return to Pompeii.

  12. Lee L

    This was so much fun to read over! As a kid I was given a book called Readers Digest Omnibus.. essentially a book of short but true stories which included one about Pompeii.
    I had always wanted to visit. In 1972 in Amsterdam, you could go to the street in front of the American Express office and young people going back home to wherever were selling their old vans. As long as it ran and you could sleep in it, it sold. Bought mine for $600 from a young guy going back to Los Angeles. We put 10,000 miles on it travelling all over Europe and Morocco before selling it for $750 in London.
    In Pompeii, we camped for free in the parking lot of a nearby restaurant and met some young folks from Alabama doing the same thing. Bighest differences us and them was we were from Canada while they had a newborn on board the VW van they were living in…a really tiny little baby. The Italians lived up to the stereotype and were very gracious to them and to us despite being horrified that they would be travelling like that with such a young bambino.
    Now my daughter has married a European, lives in Croatia and is expecting her first baby this year. We have to travel to see her so after reading your post, POMPEII HERE WE COME. Maybe Christmas in Napoli?

    Love reading your stuff.

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