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lilleyl2 Dec 26th, 2003 01:51 PM

Info re: Pompeii and Herculaneum
This is a re-post since the previous post did not appear to have been posted.

I will be in Rome early Feb. and want to take a daytrip to Pompeii and Herculaneum. I will be accompanied by two people who are not into Roman history.

Here are my questions:

Would the average person who's not into Roman history be bored stiff by these sites? Or would they be grossed out to discover that the "plaster casts" strewn about are actually remains of people who got buried with the eruption?

Are these sites set up like colonial Williamsburg, but without guides and interpreters? If so, are they "accessible" to people who are not immersed in Roman history?

Are there signs explaining things or do people walk about with a guidebook?

Are there audiophone rentals? (I found them really helpful in Bath when I visited the Roman Baths. Otherwise, the remains are actually piles of rocks and rubble.)

Any insight or comments will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.


HowardR Dec 26th, 2003 02:03 PM

I can't see how anyone--a lover of Roman history or not--could be bored by Pompeii!
And, no, I don't think your fellow travelers will be grossed out by the plaster casts. Actually, they are a very smart part of what you'll see there.
The best way to see Pompeii is with a guide. They are available at the entrance and are not that expensive. As far I know, there are no audio guides (but I could be wrong).
I don't mean to sound rude, but it's almost ludicrous to compare these ancient sites to Williamsburg! These sites are not "set up" in any way other than how they actually were some 2,000+ years ago

Indymajic Dec 26th, 2003 03:12 PM

I was in Pompeii in September, and I seen people with headphones (audio tour) I'm sure you can rent them at the ticket booth.
I would have to agree a guide would be better, but then you can't explore on your own. I am also positive no one could be bored. It is a huge and amazing place.

chardonnay Dec 26th, 2003 03:56 PM

Well, I went to Pompeii with my British friend and his nephew who was in his late 20's, college educated, etc.

When we entered and walked around a little, he said, "wow, this is incredible" and then "I'm going to sit over here, meet me here on your way out", then he got a cup of coffee and sat by the visitors center for the next three or four hours while we enjoyed Pompeii.

When we met him he told us he had read his novel and listened to his CD player and enjoyed the sunshine and was perfectly happy, but didn't ask us one question about Pompeii.

So, if your friends get bored walking around, encourage them to sit and read while you are exploring.

lilleyl2 Dec 26th, 2003 05:33 PM

Indymajic, I'm glad to hear that they had headphones...I think we'll get more out of the visit.

At some other site where I posted the same question, someone mentioned that doing Pompeii as a daytrip from Rome is a pretty long and exhausting day. Would Herculaneum be more manageable because it's more "compact?"


Judy_in_Calgary Dec 26th, 2003 06:12 PM

Lilleyl2, you would do well to consider Ostia Antica, 16 miles (25 km) southwest of Rome.

It's a gem, so accessible from Rome and yet so often overlooked in the stampede to Pompeii.

kybourbon Dec 26th, 2003 06:41 PM

They don't actually have headphones at Pompeii. They have the hand held audio guides that you can select the number of the site you are standing in front of and listen to the info ( more like a radio).

lilleyl2 Dec 26th, 2003 07:38 PM

Judy_in_Calgary, I was thinking of doing Ostia and Villa d'Este as part of Rome.

Don't want to put anyone on a spot, but how did Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Ostia compare. Pros and Cons?

Kybourbon, audiophones will be fine. It will save me having to read out loud from my guidebook.

Pwem Dec 27th, 2003 03:12 PM

I've been to both Ostia Antica and Pompeii. I would have to say that Pompeii is more interesting. More complete villas still standing, more mosiacs, even a house of ill repute (with mosiacs of the sex acts performed still intact). From Rome, Ostia is easy to get to: maybe 40 minutes by train. Much less crowded. Pompeii is 2.5 hrs by bus, a little longer by train. Looking into the city with vesuvius in the background is chilling.

BarneyRubble Dec 27th, 2003 04:05 PM

Betty and I have been to Pompeii twice and loved both trips.

A good rule would be this, if your friend is a boring type of person then he/she will be bored.

If they're an interesting person, interested in new things, then they will love it.

You know the answer, you decide.

MizzEve Dec 27th, 2003 04:10 PM

It's going to be really tough, if not impossible to do both Herculaneum & Pompei in one daytrip.

I'll be the disenter here and say that if your friends are not into "roman history," they probably will be bored at Pompei. But, that's okay because if you are planning on taking the train from Termini to Pompei, you will have to transfer in Naples. You may consider leaving your friends in Naples while you continue onto Pompei. They can go out and explore Naples while you explore Pompei. They can eat pizza where it was invented. They can check out the Capella Sansevero. They can check out the Archeological Museum (*you* should do this too). Or, they can simply take in the hustle and bustle of Italy's densist cities.

There are no plaster casts laying around Pompei. If you want to see plaster casts, go to the Archeological Museum in Naples. There are recently recovered artifacts at Pompei, but they are housed in a storage area and you can only see them by looking through iron bars. These artifacts are not "on display" in the common sense of the term.

There are hoards of guides, some official some not, loitering at the entrance to Pompei. Rembember that you can negotiate the price. The more people in the group, the less the cost per person.

Go into the gift shop *before* entering Pompei and get a Pompei Past & Present book. It is small, spiral bound, has a plastic cover and contains great overlays showing Pompei then and now. You'll want this before you tour the site.

I truly believe in "to each his own." If your friends are truly not into Roman history, they will probably not want to spend hours upon hours touring the coloseum, forum, etc. That's okay. They can spend lots of time, eating, shopping, and meeting new people.

Have fun.

Patrick Dec 27th, 2003 04:14 PM

"There are no plaster casts laying around Pompeii". What?? Have they removed them? There were quite a few when we were there about four years ago. Most were assembled in one spot.

Incidentally, we went by train from Sorrento and arrived at about the time Pompeii was opening. We thought we'd stay a couple of hours. We ended up leaving about 4 in the afternoon. Although neither of us tend to be really "into" ruins, we were fascinated there all day, doing a book and the audio guides.

HowardR Dec 27th, 2003 04:21 PM

There certainly are plastic casts of the victims in Pompeii.
For the record, the ancient site is spelled Pompeii, while the town itself has only one "i".

swissradpoon Jan 4th, 2004 04:41 AM

I found both Pompeii and Herculaneum very interesting. You can definitely do Herculaneum in a couple of hours - it is much smaller than Pompeii. For Pompeii you will need at least 3 -4 hours to fully appreciate it. There are audioguides at the main entrance (near the train station) - it is 6.50 for 1 but 5Euro if more than 1. Don't forget to bring your ID with you.

Do get a guide book at the bookshop - it helped us alot. In our book there are before/after pictures so we understood what we were looking at and appreciated the ruins more.

Have a great time!


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