a VirtualTourist member from Leeds
Hi VT people
My fiancee and I are spending a week in May in the Sorrento area. We have booked a villa in Nerano (about 16km from Sorrento) and plan to visit Capri and Pompeii whilst there. I particularly want to get up close to Vesuvius though. There are guided tours from about £150 for 2 people where you can see Pompeii and Vesuvius in the same day but would it be easy to DIY the experience? I know getting to Pompeii is very easy and cheap but I've read it is a pain to then go on to Vesuvius without a private driver. Is it worth the extra money for the full tour?
Yes, Pompeii is very easy to do from Sorrento: just get on the Circumvesuviana to Pompeii Scavi.
And from Porta Marina at the site, catch the bus to Vesuvius - this should help:
Is Porta Marina not a fair distance away? I read a review where someone said it took them ages to walk there and they missed the bus. Do you know how long the bus will take up to the volcano and how close it gets you to the crater?
No, Porta Marina is the main entrance for Pompeii Scavi: see it on a map here:
Bus schedule is here (and do note that the previous link I gave you has a tab for English):
And here is a downloadable, English brochure for the park with trail/approx. time info:
I haven't done the climb myself as the volcano is so visible from Pompeii and Sorrento but maybe someone else here can give you an approx. on that.
"I read a review where someone said it took them ages to walk there and they missed the bus. "
It's possible that this meant to say that it took them a surprisingly long time to cross the excavations to get back to the entrance. The excavations are much larger than most sites, and what with getting lost and detours and whatnot, I could see someone underestimating the amount of time it would take to get back to the main entrance, say, from the theater...
Thankyou that is very helpful. I did notice the english tab but only after replying ;). This all looks very easy. Shall not be paying for a tour!
Yes I have heard the site a fair size. How does it compare to Ostia Antica? I visited there last May.
I finally was able to lay my hands on some other visitor info I was looking for: the park website is maddening!
OK, so this SHOULD give you hours and entry fees to the park in English - although I've had some issues with Italian sites not translating as of late.
The trail you want is the Grand Cone - looks to be 8 euros to take that path. :O)
I haven't had the pleasure of Ostia Antica yet - although many of our members have - but I'm fairly sure that Pompeii is much larger. We spent most of a day there and still didn't cover it all.
Hope this comes through but it may give you a better feel for how sprawling the site is:
You are going to want to pick up some sort of guidebook at the entrance, bring one with you, or rent an audioguide to help explain what you're looking at. There is no signage, and the piece you get with your ticket is minimal. Here also is a (very) brief Rick Steves walking tour....
... and he has a free podcast tour you can download on itunes but I'm not sure how much detail it covers.
Here's the Pompeii website:
Oddly, I am having trouble finding exact numbers for the relative sizes...perhaps this search is handicapped by the fact that for years, they have been covering up parts of the excavated areas of Pompeii to protect them..
But, by looking at the map, Pompeii seems to be a kilometer east-west and north-south while Ostia Antica appears to be 500 meters by 300-400 meters...when you square this, Pompeii would be at least 4-5 times the area...this is what's known as a SWAG (sophisticated wild-a** guess) ;-)
I went to many sites in Italy & elsewhere for years without a guide & saw wonders, was amazed etc. But I was fortunate to have a great guide for my last visit to Villa Adriana near Tivoli & though I've studied & read all I could about this place over the years, his presence & input were precious. I'd been there & to Villa d'Este before on my own & been amazed. But with my friend guide, the last time, I got a better feel for Adrian's Villa & the whole site.
Years ago, I visited Ercolano with friends living in Gaeta. We went on our own & wandered about. Stunning but still... something was missing. Luckily, we were alone on the site that day & a caretaker took it upon himself to show us specific details & bring us to places usually closed to visitors. This made a huge difference. Still I didn't go for a guide when visiting such sites. I was used to doing everything on my own & not prepared to visit with a guide.
It's only with my last visit to Adrian's villa with my friend (an official guide) that I understood the true value of a guide to such historical sites. I'm now yearning to visit Pompei with a good guide, ok, not one leading a group... couldn't live with that. But on a one-on one basis, or very small group, yes! It's more relaxed & personal.
Not saying you need a guide every time but for me, once I knew those sites well enough, I enjoyed hearing my guide's take on things. I like wandering around historical sites on my own, but now I know that having a guide trained in archeology & history makes a huge difference. Perhaps a guide is most appreciated once you've seen the site on your own... and then return with an expert on that particular spot.
Otherwise, when I'm just wandering around with guidebook & map, I soon feel tired & a bit discouraged. But I understand that it's a matter of choice. For going up to Vesuvius, I'd be careful with the guide I choose. There are good ones, make sure you get the best if you're going to go with a guide. Have a good trip to Pompei and Vesuvius!