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tinydancer Jun 13th, 2012 12:22 PM

Pompeii: will 2 hrs be enough, considering...
We are driving from Sorrento to Rome on Sunday, and I wonder if we can stop at Pompeii and do the 2 hour audio guide, and if that is enough time, CONSIDERING, that we've already been to Oplontis (AMAZING villa) and Herculaneum (very interesting neighbourhood) earlier this week.

I've been to Pompeii many years ago, and it really made an impression on me. I'm traveling with DH and 2 friends who aren't as interested as we are.

I've heard the House of Menander is opened after being closed, and there are a few other things I'd like to see. DH is interested in seeing the underground aqueduct.

We did a tour of Turkey not long ago, and we saw many wonderful sites there, like Ephesus. So it's not like we have to see an amphitheater or such. I'd just like some feedback.

I'd appreciate any comments that would add to our discussion about stopping for a short visit on our way. Also, if you have a link to a map of the site, could you share that with me also.

The drive to Rome takes +/-3:15 hrs, so leaving in the morning should give us time. We haven't been to Naples, and we won't be going, so the museum there is out.

gailw Jun 13th, 2012 12:38 PM

Tinyd: I can't offer you any advice, as we're not going to Italy til October, but we're lined up to go to Pompeii and Herculaneum on one day with a guide, then to the Naples Museum on another day. I've read about Oplontis and it sounds like it would be really interesting. You've been there. Do you think it offers a different enough experience from what we already have planned to add it to our tours? I'd love to hear feedback from you about your experience.
thanks in advance,

thursdaysd Jun 13th, 2012 12:50 PM

I would have thought not, as it is such a big site. But if you just have specific buildings you want to see, and they are not too far apart, it could be possible. I'd recommend mapping out your route in advance.

Actually, I was a little disappointed in Pompeii after seeing Herculaneum.

tinydancer Jun 13th, 2012 01:04 PM

Oplontis is a single, large villa belonging to the second wife of Caesar. It is quite large, with many rooms, frescoes, mosaics, etc. It is still being restored & conserved.

We loved it. It really gave us the feeling of being in someone's home. What she liked, and what she was like. I kept having the feeling that she loved her home, just like I love mine. It was personal. And the archaeologists are there working on restoring it. There were hardly any other people there with us. Maybe 6 others all together. We had it all to ourselves. One of our small group commented that there were more people working at the ticket counter than people visiting.

I asked one of the archaeologists how to compare the different sites, and they said that Oplontis was like being in a home, Herculaneum was like being in a neighborhood, and Pompeii was like being in a city and getting the feeling of what is was like in a big city.

Oplontis was NOT easy to find. Our TomTom did NOT have it programmed in, no matter which name or title we used, it wouldn't even take the coordinates, and we drove around town trying to follow the signs. We stopped in a gas station in town, and luckily it was right nearby.

THEN, we had to find parking, which we did in a lot advertising parking for Oplontis. Once you find the parking (only EURO2.00), they'll point you towards the site which is on the same street, 2 streets or so down.

It's very difficult driving in this town, but if you have patience, and are already driving in Italy, you can do it.

anyegr Jun 13th, 2012 01:18 PM

What exactly do you mean with "friends who aren't as interested as we are"? Are they only a little interested or not interested at all? Two hours will feel like more than enough in the company of someone who constantly whines "this is boring" and "not another ruined house" and "aren't you finished yet?".

I went to Pompeii in 2006 on an organized daytour (part of a bus tour to Rome) and liked it. Can't remember how many hours we spent there, but it was really interesting to see. It was a bit crowded and maybe a bit touristy, but that's unavoidable in such places. Of course, I've never been to Oplontis or Herculaneum, so I have no idea if seeing those would destroy the "special feeling" of seeing Pompeii.

On the other hand, if one doesn't like seeing old ruins it will be really boring.

What is the entrance fee, anyway? Would it be worth paying that much for only two hours?

tinydancer Jun 13th, 2012 01:27 PM

Some people are just not as into ruins as others, but they don't whine. Thankfully. They'll go sit outside and wait if they get bored. I think it's about EUR11, or something like that. Plus audio guide.

The more I look at it, the more I'm inclined to just say we are going to stop there. I'm winning my own argument ;-)

Debs Jun 13th, 2012 05:57 PM

When you rent the audio guide, you will need to leave either a driver's license, credit card or passport (in addition to payment) for it. We rented 2 audio guides and my husband left his driver's license, which was returned to him when they were returned.

Good luck with your 2 hr visit - Pompeii is spread out so much that 2 hrs really isn't a lot of time, but it will help if you just want to see specific things. Ask for a free brochure and map at the booth directly across the way from where the audio guides are rented. The map is absolutely essential, but don't count on not getting lost even with it! ENJOY!

kybourbon Jun 13th, 2012 07:13 PM

Your friends can sit in the Autogrill in Pompeii and wait if they get tired of walking around.

What do you plan to do with a car in Rome?

flanneruk Jun 13th, 2012 09:54 PM

If there is a 2 hour audioguide, I'm sure it'll take two hours and give you a sense of Pompeii.

But it'll take a very great deal longer than 2 hrs to get from the motorway turnoff, find Pompeii (the signing is crap), find somewhere to park near the ticket office (carparks can easily fill up), walk to the ticket office, go through the hasssle of organising the audioguide, get to the point where the audioguide tour starts, do the tour then do the whole getting out palaver at the end.

All the carparks around the site (which is huge, and you'll inevitably first go to a carpark miles from the right entrance) have a reasonable cluster of bars and restaurant around them: catering inside the site is awful.

Allow at least an extra two hours, from the point you arrive at the motorway turnoff, for all the faffing about. There's a substantial Catholic pilgrimage site about a mile away from the carparks, which might be of anthropological interest even to non-believers. Otherwise as far as I've ever found, there's nothing else but eating and drinking for passengers who don't want to come into the site

A_Brit_In_Ischia Jun 13th, 2012 11:02 PM

Those spending a decent amount of time at Pompei could well find this worth reading....

Maps of the three main places of archaeological interest have now reappeared - look towards the end of the page here:

... and, for Pompei, there's one of the site (where some 100 of a total of c.165 acres have been excavated) and another that also shows the town and local transport here:

Perhaps try this, to demonstrate to your friends quite what they'd be missing:

... and here's that Autogrill:


PS: When going to Oplontis, much simpler to use the Circumvesuviana railway's Naples/Sorrento line - on which the station in Torre Annunziata (on Via Paolo Boselli) is only a few simple moments walk away from the site:

flanneruk Jun 14th, 2012 03:23 AM

Incidentally, I think your strategy is wrong.

Pompeii today, to be honest, is just another excavation site. And you've all seen Herculaneum and Oplontis anyway.

Pompeii in 79 AD was a spectacularly rich holiday getaway for the very richest Romans, who bedecked their "cottages" (think midcentury Newport RI for the closest parallel) with equally spectacular artefacts. Practically none of which is in Pompeii anymore, because most of it's in the Museo Archaeologico Nazionale in Naples.

Which as a result now houses simply the finest collection of classical-era things almost-ordinary people actually used of any museum anywhere. Mosaics, glasswear, pornography, you name it, and it's five minutes' walk from Naples main station, with no need at all to handle the Naples Circonvallazione

If you've got the sense to get out of museums when Museum Head kicks in after an hour or so, lots of OKish eating places nearby (good food really isn't, by Italian standards, Naples' strong point - but it's perfectly OK). You might have to pay again to get back in - but it's a trivial amount compared to the quality of the goods on display.

But if I were told I had three hours to live and just one tourist site to choose from, it'd definitely be the Naples museum. Pompeii, especially if I'd just seen Herculaneum, wouldn't make the hundred-strong short list.

hkto Jun 14th, 2012 05:47 AM

2 hrs are definitely not enough if one wants to cover the whole site or visit previously reserved locked villas. However group tours with a private guide that are sold at the gate are 2 hrs so for getting a good feel for the site that should be enough. Also the place is open and on a hot day can be quite tiring to do long walks.

Mimar Jun 14th, 2012 06:14 AM

flanneruk, as usual, has strong opinions.With which, as usual, I don't agree.

If you don't know much about archeology, then I think a site like Pompeii, where you can see the actual houses and streets and restaurants and public buildings, all laid out as in Roman times, is of more interest. Whereas objects removed from their context and in a museum require more specialized knowledge to fully appreciate. Otherwise it's just another dusty museum.

gailw Jun 14th, 2012 08:30 AM

thanks for the additional info on Oplontis. Just what I was looking for. I think we'll add it to the mix.

tinydancer Jun 16th, 2012 10:45 AM

gailw: fyi the hotel we stayed in near Herculaeneum was the 'Park Hotel'. We paid EUR125 for a HUGE delux king room with a HUGE bathroom with 2 sinks and double shower. They have gardens, private, locked parking in the rear, and we walked up the street to the site about 5 minutes away.

kybourbon: we will park it on the street near our hotel and leave it there for 6 days.

Yes, we all want to go to Popeii now. Not sure how long we'll be there. But thank you all for your suggestions.

mamcalice Jun 16th, 2012 11:10 AM

We've used both the two-hour audioguide and the two-hour tour group led by a guide. We found the latter to be far superior. Our guide was knowledgable, engaging and spokd perfect English. It is nice to be able to ask questions.

kybourbon Jun 16th, 2012 12:28 PM

>>>kybourbon: we will park it on the street near our hotel and leave it there for 6 days.<<<

There are areas in Rome where you are not allowed to drive which is controlled by cameras (tickets come in the mail after they track you through the rental agency). I really doubt you will find street parking near your hotel in Rome unless you are staying outside the city center. Paid parking structures will cost 35-40€ per day in the city center as will any hotel parking (if the hotel has any).

You are not allowed to cross into the yellow area during the day and the blue area at night. You can see both include the center.

tinydancer Jun 20th, 2012 03:27 AM

kybourbon: we are parked right outside our hotel front door, which is 5 minutes walk from the Forum. Hotel gave us a permit to place on our dashboard. It's perfect. You just have to look for hotels with parking, which we did. Haven't you ever noticed all the cars in Rome? :-) And best of's free!

The hotel would have been able to get permission for us to drive in here, but because it was a Sunday, it did not matter.

When I searched for hotels, I always looked for ones with parking, elevators, good locations, and good prices.

We are in the Hotel Nerva:

ParadiseLost Jun 20th, 2012 05:59 PM

Re; Your hotel's location at the edge of Subura. Regards, Walter :-)

ParadiseLost on Apr 5, 12 at 11:48 PM

bradshawgirl1; Did you realize you were staying in Subura when your rented this apartment!!!
It's the most dangerous crime-ridden area in Rome.
But I guess they have cleaned-up the place in the last 2000yrs :-).

It was where Julius Caesar was born and raised, his family was aristocratic but they didn't have money.
They likely had a very nice/decent home but over many years the neighborhood went downhill over his family generations.

In exploring the neighborhood you possibly walked right over his home and who knows it's even possible your apartment was right over it.

And that *high* wall (in front of Hotel Nerva) behind the Forum of Augustus was a fire-break to keep fires from this slum area spreading into his Forum.

I just thought this little tidbit might interest you. Regards, Walter

tinydancer Jun 22nd, 2012 07:54 AM

ParadiseLost: How very interesting! But not sure if you are directing the comment to me or to bradshawgirl1. And yes, they have cleaned up the area around the Hotel Nerva quite a bit, although I had no idea when I booked it.

In the streets behind this hotel ( about 1-2 streets back) there are numerous restaurants, some are very, very good, boutiques, many young people out in the evening, many people in the restaurants.

I went out shopping today, and found that in the main street nearby, via Nazionale, there are many, many good shops. If I had known, I wouldn't have trekked to the other areas far away from here. D&G also has a shop here (too pricy for me though).

But the information was very interesting either way ;-)

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