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Orvieto ro Pompei day trip in late December?

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Dec 9th, 2013, 04:14 PM
  #1
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Orvieto ro Pompei day trip in late December?

Looking for some advice from those who've been there and done that. Yes, I think a day trip from Rome to Pompei is doable but it would be a very long day. An alternative that has been suggested is Orvieto. That appears to be less stressful from a timing standpoint...of course, we would not see ruins, etc. Our plan is to do this on 12/28 - so the daylight hours will be limited. Any favorites here??
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Dec 9th, 2013, 04:21 PM
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I was in Rome over Christmas last year, visited Orvieto and had come from Sorrento where I spent a day at Herculaneum (like Pompeii but smaller). I enjoyed Orvieto better because there were places to go inside to warm up, have lunch, a coffee, etc. For that reason alone I suggest Orvieto.
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Dec 9th, 2013, 04:47 PM
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If you want to visit an old Roman town, visit Ostia Antica just outside of Rome. But as MmePerdu stated - I would not want to be caught in Pompii or Ostia on a cold blustery day. We were in Orvieto on a cold day in early April this year & it was quite enjoyable. I had a nice lunch inside, while my wife walked around taking pictures.

Stu Dudley
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Dec 9th, 2013, 10:48 PM
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Orvieto is just a smallish, pretty, well-conserved Italian town. The only differences between it and Rome is:
- it's two hours away (by the time you've got the train, got off at Orvieto Scalo and got the bus or funicular up to the main city). Each way
- it's smaller.
- it's colder.

Orvieto cathedral is glorious, but probably - like its museums - nothing like as glorious as the Roman sites you won't visit as a result. Unless you've got highly specialised tastes, there's nothing there you can't see all over Italy

The excavated cities of the Bay of Naples are unique. At this time of the year Herculaneum probably makes more sense than Pompeii, because it's more compact - important as the daylight hours reduce - and you spend far less time on the acres of very exposed ground between houses, which is important as the weather chills.

Personally, I'd rather spend the time in the Naples archaeological museum, which has by a zillion miles the most spectacular collection of Roman domestic artefacts on earth. But it's still a museum, and therefore may not be to everyone's taste.

Pompeii or Herculaneum, though, offer you the chance to walk round the bits of a real ciy people lived in (the archaeological sites of Rome are almost all all about where they worshipped, gawped at monuments or buried their dead). It's fanciful to say they're as if people were living there yesterday: but they're where you can relate to people, not just the relics of an imperial power.
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Dec 10th, 2013, 01:30 AM
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I also suggest visiting Ostia Antica as an alternative to Pompeii in the winter. It's so close to Rome that you can decide to go there on the spur of the moment, if you find a nice day; and you can return to Rome if you get cold without feeling that you invested a lot of time and money on the train trip and entrance fee, that will be wasted by leaving early. You can get to Ostia Antica in half an with a normal bus/metro ticket, and you can use a single ticket to get to the Ostiense train station, where the Ostia train leaves, and to transfer to the train, so the whole trip from your hotel to the archaeological site will cost €1.50.

Ostia Antica was the ancient port of Rome; it has some very well preserved buildings, including an almost totally intact ancient bar; the ancient theatre, which is still used for concerts these days; some apartment buildings, including a few where you can go to the upper floors; an ancient public toilet, with intact seats; and some bath complexes. There is a museum on the site, and some buildings have nice mosaics, but most of the best works of art were carted off to the Vatican during the excavations; some of them can be seen in the Vatican Museums, while others are in storage.

There are two big differences between Ostia Antica and Pompeii. The first difference is that Pompeii was mostly a residential suburb of Naples, while Ostia Antica was a very heterogeneous port city. At Ostia Antica, you can see Egyptian cult temples, Mithraic temples, a synagogue, Christian places of worship, as well as native Roman temples. The second difference is that Pompeii had already mostly been destroyed once by an earthquake before its final destruction by the volcano. What you see is the city as it existed during its brief life of less than 100 years, so it's really almost a moment frozen in time. On the other hand, Ostia Antica flourished for over 400 years, so there are many layers of history there, with buildings that were reconverted to different uses.

http://ostia-antica.org/
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Dec 10th, 2013, 08:59 AM
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I, too, think Ostia is a good idea. And keeping to my theme above, has a cafeteria for lunch or coffee and a warm-up if needed. Depending on how many days you have you might consider both Ostia and Orvieto.
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Dec 11th, 2013, 11:38 AM
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By the way, getting back to Orvieto, as mentioned above, the duomo is wonderful, a rare example of Italian Gothic style, which is very different from northern European Gothic.

I don't really know of any significant museums in Orvieto. There are some very interesting Etruscan and ancient Roman ruins, but it would be hard to get to them without a car.

There are two other things well worth seeing in Orvieto, right in the center. One is the 16th century Pozzo di San Patrizio (St. Patrick's Well), which has a double helix stairway (with wide low steps) down to the bottom of the structure, which was used by mules who went down to the level where water could be drawn and returned to the surface by the other path, thus avoiding encounters between mules going in different directions.

The other thing (which I haven't seen, as it wasn't open at my last visit) is the Underground Tour, which visits the galleries and grottoes carved out of the soft tufa rock the city is constructed on. Many of these were used for storage or for more or less hidden exits from buildings, or just as passages between two places.
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