Florence / Travel Tips / Travels

The Almafi Coast: Pompeii

P1050979Going to the Almafi Coast is basically living in every destination picture you’ve ever pinned on Pinterest: pictures of bright colored villas sitting on cliffs cutting into water so blue you can’t even find an appropriate word to describe it, all with the caption “Someday!”.

My “someday” happened this weekend.

Booking our trip through FlorenceForFun, my roommates and I rushed out of class Thursday, eager for our seven-hour bus ride to  a weekend in Sorrento, Capri, Positano and Pompeii. We arrived at our home base, Hotel Cavour, a beachy accommodation in Sorrento, at around one in the morning. We managed to fit in a catnap between our arrival and breakfast, which was included (as well as dinner), despite all of our excitement for the days ahead.


I’m the grandchild of a history teacher, one whose Christmas present every year was a subscription to Smithsonian Magazine.

The first issue I ever received had Pompeii on the cover. Sifting through the article about the ancient city preserved by nine feet of pumice from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, I knew that I needed to see it one day.

I was able to cross this trip off my bucket list with my trip to the Almafi Coast. On Sunday we traveled 45 minutes from Sorrento to Pompeii. Like most people in the FlorenceForFun group, I chose to pay the extra 17€ for admission to the site and a guided tour with an English-speaking tour guide. Pompeii has no signs explains what buildings are, so it was worth the extra expenditure to actually understand the significance of what we were seeing.

Our tour lasted an hour and a half, but felt like 20 minutes. We wandered through the stone city, seeing the theatre, brothel (apparently they had nothing else to do in 79 AD), market, temples and casts of salvaged bodies. It was unreal to literally step back in time.

After visiting the city we visited the volcano that froze it in time. Hiking up Mount Vesuivius was, well, a hike, on its gravel trail that lead all the way to the crater. Unbelievable views of the Bay of a Naples were visible through the low clouds as we reached the top. We were all disappointed to not see any actual lava brewing in the crater of the active volcano, but it was still worth the trek to say we climbed to the top of it.

If there is anything I learned from being in Europe, it’s too take advantage of the “how many people can say they did this?” type of moments.

Tips for Pompeii:

  • This is an appropriate time to bust out the tennis shoes, especially for the hike up the volcano.
  • Pack a sweater, as the top of Mount Vesuivius is about 20 degrees cooler than Pompeii. You’ll be sweating one minute and shivering the next.
  • Definitely spend the money on a guided tour.
  • Take time to wander through the vendors, as they carry hilarious items depicting the very sexually-active city.

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