Of the many tours offered from Naples, I opted for the half-day tour of Pompeii. The excavation site is 14 miles southeast of Naples, so it only took 30 minutes to get there.
Pompeii was crowded, but, as we were here in month of May, the crowds and the heat were nothing like they can be in mid-summer.
Pompeii is for the sure-footed. I saw two people fall. Be sure to watch where you’re putting your foot down on the uneven stones and wear shoes with rubber soles as Princess Cruises advises.
The tour itself was challenging to follow along. We were given radios and earpieces but had difficulty hearing our guide, who was wonderfully informative but hampered by equipment. Still, Pompeii was fascinating.
At the base of Mount Vesuvius, the city was destroyed by the volcano’s violent eruption on August 24 AD 79. Historians know the exact date because of an eyewitness account in two letters by Pliney the Elder.
There were 10,000 to 20,000 inhabitants in the city at the time, and their skeletal remains were remarkably preserved (as was the city itself) in up to 23 feet of pumice stones and ash. Those who weren’t killed by falling debris died of asphyxiation the next day when pyroclastic material and heated gas reached the city walls.