To visit Pompeii or not while in Italy? We waffled for weeks as we planned our recent summer vacation to Rome and Tuscany. With just four days in the Eternal City, we were hesitant to devote even one to a side trip, but the allure of this ancient marvel proved too strong to resist. As we scudded through the volcanic ash that still blankets Pompeii’s grounds and negotiated cobblestones that bear ruts from primitive wagon wheels — the scarred slopes of Mt. Vesuvius looming over our shoulders — we couldn’t believe we had almost passed up such an extraordinary experience.
Getting the most out of a trip to Pompeii requires advance planning, especially with kids. It’s crucial to engage a knowledgeable guide who can steer you through the vast maze of ruins and bring the past to life for young imaginations. Only a shell of the erstwhile city remains; signage is almost nonexistent; and most of the artifacts unearthed during excavation are housed in the National Archaeological Museum in nearby Naples (well worth a visit; be aware that it’s closed on Tuesdays). An expert’s insight allows you to connect the dots between daily life in Pompeii and the crumbling walls and columns all around. Be sure to book a vetted kid-friendly guide ahead of time rather than taking a gamble with the guides available for hire onsite — CB! Family Vacation Advisors can arrange tried and tested guides as part of our Connect with a Travel Advisor page.
TIP: Pompeii is an easy day trip from both Rome and the Amalfi Coast. Italy’s superfast Frecciarossa trains whisk travelers from Rome to Naples in just over an hour; the connecting train to the ruins takes another 45 minutes or so. The Amalfi Coast is about an hour from Pompeii by car, close enough that you can simply hire a driver for the day.
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