Pompeii and Vesuvius
The catastrophic eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. was one of the most significant natural disasters in the Roman Empire's history. We start our day at the Mt. Vesuvius National Park, where a national park guide will lead you through the wilderness, explaining how Mt. Vesuvius came to be, how it’s influenced the area’s local flora and fauna… and why it’s still so dangerous today. The last eruption, in 1944, destroyed three complete villages and 88 U.S. Army Air Force aircraft! Learn what the eruption of 79 A.D. meant not just for Pompeii’s inhabitants, but for the area—and how it was so violent that it laid the volcano’s slopes bare of vegetation and forever altered the shape of the summit.
After our nature walk, we’ll have an hour-long lunch break in modern Pompeii. Your guide can direct you to a sit-down Neapolitan restaurant or, if you’d like to explore, to a quick pizza joint. One site we recommend is the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary, an enormous, domed basilica dating to the 19th century. Its tower is 260 feet tall; if you have time (it closes at 1pm), you can climb it—or take a lift—to the top!
Finally, we arrive at the moment we’ve been preparing for: seeing the Pompeii archaeological site. Accidentally discovered in 1592 and extensively excavated in the 18th century, Pompeii has been one of the most famous and evocative destinations on any tourist’s itinerary for generations. And, far from a “ruin,” Pompeii is a city that comes alive when its story is properly told.
At the entrance gates, your Walks of Italy guide will lay out a detailed account of life of Pompeii before, during and after the eruption—with tales of how the town's inhabitants traveled, worked, played, and philosophized. Once inside, you'll admire the incredibly-preserved frescoes and mosaics, peruse Roman households, stop by the local pub…and even visit an ancient brothel! You'll also enter the thermal baths, explore the town's forum and basilica, be a guest at the renowned houses of the Faun and of the Vettii, admire places of worship like the Temple of Isis, and take a seat on the bleachers of the spectacularly-preserved theater.
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