I grew up studying the frozen city of Pompeii. The people were going about their daily lives when Mt. Vesuvius caught them by surprise and erupted, covering the streets, buildings, and people with lava and preserving their last moments on this earth.
This is a guide to show you how to get from Rome to Pompeii using public transportation.
Booking a ticket: Video 0:43-1:59
Buy a roundtrip ticket in advance at Roma Termini to Napoli Centrali and back. The prices go up, the longer you wait. You can also book online at: www.trenitalia.com Be warned that the website can be difficult to use. It would not let me set-up a profile from a United States address, but perhaps you will have better luck.
You can buy your ticket from an attendant, but you’ll have to draw a number. When I was there, there was a long line, so I tried the self-service kiosk. Look for the British flag on the opening menu for English. The next screen warns of pickpockets and only to accept help from staff. Also, you can pay by ATM or credit card, but must know your PIN, even if you have a credit card.
Which train? Video 0:00-1:00
When booking a train you can purchase a Regionale/Intercity ticket that takes anywhere from 2-2:30 hours or the direct FRECCIAROSSA, which takes 70 minutes. I normally opt for budget travel, but in this case, I only had half a day and chose the FRECCIAROSSA, which was clean, fast, and had assigned seats.
A few days before my trip the FRECCIAROSSA was 27 euro, but because I did not buy it in advance, I paid 43 euro each-way. Yikes! I learned my lesson.
Which train and where to sit? Video: 2:00-2:11
Once you have your ticket look at the giant electronic board to find your train number, destination, time, and track number. The track number generally pops up 10-30 minutes before your train arrives.
Some trains have assigned seating and others do not. If your ticket says “Carrozza” with a number, that is the car you are supposed to sit in. The cars are numbered on the outside. If your ticket says “Posti” and a number and letter, that is your row and seat.
How to take the local train from Naples to Pompeii Video 2:34-4:20
Once you arrive in Naples, exit the platform, walk to the left, and eventually go downstairs. You will follow signs for the Circumvesuviana. There was no line, so I went to the window and bought my departure and return ticket. Each cost 2.90 euro. It is similar to the Metro in Washington DC, where you use a temporary card, the gates open, and you follow signs to your track. You want to head towards Sorrento. I was there on a weekday where the trains were running every 40 minutes or so.
Note that this train is not nearly as nice. It was covered with graffiti and we had street performers play music and ask for money on the 45 minute journey. I was lucky because it was on time both ways. The stop you want is Pompei/Scavi. Exit the train and take a right. Once you get off the platform there is an information center on the right, otherwise, keep walking and the entrance for Pompeii with be about 50 meters on the left. There will be another information center at the entrance.
Italian trains do not always run on-time, but I got lucky and made each connection. Keep an eye on your possessions at all times and you should be fine. If things are running smoothly, this is a very easy day trip from Rome.
What do you see once you get there?