Pompeii was a Roman city which was struck by two pyroclastic flows during the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79. These killed what remained of the population. The city was then covered by a thick layer of the material which was ejected by the volcano. It provides an opportunity to see an entire roman city with all of its services and a sample of the rows of tombs which lined all of the roads which left the city. Of particular note is the forum, with the forum baths and the basilica. The basilica served as a law court in roman cites.
There are two theatres and an amphitheatre. The amphitheatre has been described as the oldest permanent stone built amphitheatre existing from the roman world. The roads, with the road surface being well below the height of the pavement and with stepping stones at the junctions, provide one of the well known images of the ancient world. There is a suggestion that this was merely a response to the problem of conducting away excessive rainwater in a city on the edge of a hill rather than being typical of roman cities.
There are too many notable houses to itemise. The Villa of the Mysteries lies outside the city and is a fine example of a large roman suburban villa.
Visitors using public transport will enter through the Marine Gate, guide books are available from a bookshop at this gate. The city is so large that a map is the minimum that is required. The quality of the maps which are available vary and the cheaper ones lack the detail of the more expensive ones.
Pompeii has the highest number of visitors of any ancient site in Europe and it deserves that accolade.
Use the Circumvesuviana train service to go to the station named Pompeii Scavi.
Turn right out of the station and, after 100 yards, left into the excavations.
A summary of the train services is available.
The author last completed the journey described in June 2010.