Welcome to my article on Pompeii! I work as an interior decorator based in Rome (where I grew up). For as long as I can remember I have loved painting. To pursue my passion, I moved to Brussels when I turned 22 to attend a decoration school and I have never stopped painting since.
I travel thanks to my job – decorating in the UK, France, USA, etc. – but also I travel for myself because I think it’s the best way to get new ideas. Let’s just say I travel for inspiration! For 12 years I hosted a TV show about DIY called “Paint your Life”. That gave life to my blog “Come fare con Barbara”.
Ticking Pompeii off my Bucket List
Pompeii was a place that I had been wanting to visit for years. I had everything organized to go there at least three times but every time something would come up and I couldn’t go (last time was the pandemic).
I had already been to Oplonti and was fascinated by the paintings – how they were strong and delicate at the same time. So I knew I had to visit Pompeii and Ercolano too. I went with my daughter and stayed overnight. From Rome it’s easy as it’s close by. I recommend at least two days there.
We hired a guide for Pompeii. I don’t always hire guides but I think for Pompeii it’s worth doing. You can have a completely different experience if someone takes you around and not only tells you the story of Pompeii but also shows you details that you would otherwise miss. The insulation in the walls, for example, was a fascinating detail that our guide showed us.
Some parts of Pompeii are often closed periodically without notice to the public, so with a guide you can avoid these closures and make the most of your visit. We loved Pompeii but possibly we loved Ercolano even more.
Pompeii is like the “frontman” and it’s so impressive because of its extent, but in Ercolano you will find more details of everyday life and I found it very interesting. The jewellery collection there was modern and well preserved.
Biggest Highlights of Pompeii
I loved the paintings but what struck me most were the zebra crossings. They were so clever – 20cm above the street to avoid getting soaked when it rains and they built the perfect width to allow chariots to pass in between. We were impressed by these amazing details in Pompeii.
The idea that in a blink of an eye the city became “frozen in time” was fascinating. Archaeologists made statues here by injecting liquid plaster in the ground where it sounded hollow. The plaster would solidify in the shape of the volume left behind by a decayed body, giving life to a statue.
Therefore, they could show the exact position in which people were there when they died. I think the incredible force of Pompeii is just its sheer size. It’s amazing to think that an entire city was engulfed by the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Everything there was very impressive.
Fascinating History of these Ruins
I learned a lot about Pompeii. The volcano erupted in 79 AD. Pompeii itself wasn’t submerged by lava but by six metres of ash, while Ercolano was submerged in 20 metres of mud. In Pompeii, people mostly died of asphyxiation: the ones that tried to run to the sea died whereas the ones that ran to the countryside were safer. Interestingly, most people survived.
Need to Know Before you Go
We stayed in a hotel overlooking the archaeological site in Pompeii called Hotel del Sole. It was super handy because it was situated so close by that we could be at the gates at the exact moment they opened at 9am. I highly recommend staying here if you haven’t booked your accommodation yet.
I also recommend trying to avoid coming in the summer. Spring and autumn are the best seasons as Pompeii can get very hot. Another key tip is to start your visit when the site opens – Pompeii is touristy and your visit could be spoiled by being surrounded by too many people.
Wear comfortable walking shoes too. You will be walking around the site for hours. When planning your visit add the Naples National Archaeological Museum onto your itinerary. Most of the findings from Pompeii have been relocated there, including many of the paintings. So that’s definitely going to be my next stop! Thanks for reading everyone and enjoy your trip.