A Day in Pompeii and Herculaneum (Italy)
Pompei and Herculaneum Ruins in Ercolano, Italy are fascinating, historical cities that can be visited in a day while visiting Sorrento or Naples. Both cities were covered with lava mud and ash (up to 20' deep) when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. Its truly amazing how these cities have been uncovered and naturally restored. It was exciting to walk all over the grounds with very few areas off limits to visitors. At the end of my post, look for the specifics about getting to both cities on the train.
Some 300 skeletons were found at Herculaneum, however, most residents were able to escape the lava flow prior to the event. It was discovered under mud and ash some 1600 years later in the 1700's. Its smaller and more confined to one area than Pompei and easy to walk in less than two hours although there weren't many visitors the day we were there.
Pompei is more spread out (100+ acres) and includes an amphitheatre, stadium, grape vineyard, farms, large villas, small homes, Parlimentary buildings and more. It was an entire city buried under the mud and ash. Just amazing how they've restored both places.
(Scavi is excavation)
Rome to Naples: Fast train is 1 hour and 10 minutes. There are several fast trains that head out in the morning and return in the afternoon. Once you arrive in Naples, you must get off the train and walk down the escalator to the local train called the Circumsuviana line. There you can purchase a ticket to Pompei or Ercolano.
By Train: Times will vary depending on slow or fast trains.
Circumvesuviana (local train) from:
Naples to Sorrento (fast "directo" train): 55 minutes
Naples to Ercolano (Herculaneum): 10 minutes
Naples to Pompei: 25 minutes
Sorrento to Pompei Scavi (train stop): 35 minutes
Sorrento to Ercolano: 20 minutes
Ercolano to Pompei Scavi: 20 minutes
Ticket agents in Sorrento (and probably Naples) will give you a round trip pass to get you to Pompei, Ercolano and return to Sorrento. This train ticket will cost 6.5 Euros total--very inexpensive. You can see them in any order for the day.
In Ercolano (Herculaneum ruins), make an immediate right out of the train, then make a left and walk down the stairs. Head straight downhill on the main street toward the ocean. An archway at the very end of the street will lead you directly to the Herculaneum ruins. Someone said its about 8 blocks down. We toured there for 1 1/2 hours with a headset and that was plenty of time to cover the grounds. However, you can spend as much time as you like. It cost about 11 Euros entrance fee.
When you arrive in Pompei, make a right out on the train platform (binario) and walk along the street by the wall. There are food, tour and ticket vendors all along the street, however, the official ticket office is down the street a block (past all of the vendors) at the main entrance to the Pompei ruins. Unfortunately, they may not tell you about the entrance and people may buy tours they don't really want or need. If you want to do the grounds on your own with a map, go directly to the main ticket office window at the official entrance. Remember to ask for your map which you need to get around. We spent two hours at Pompei but many people may stay the whole day. It will cost about 11 Euros entrance fee.
Some interesting article and facts about Mt. Vesuvius here
Enjoy your trip! Ciaotraveler