Bare Bones - Pompeii, Herculaneum & Classical Campania
Nowhere in the world could give a deeper insight into Roman life than the dramatic seaside towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Before the eruption of Vesuvius these were thriving, lively seaside towns - the Brighton and Hove of the ancient world! Bars, shops and brothels did a roaring trade and Pompeii was well-equipped to entertain the passing traveller with amphitheatre, baths and theatre.
All this came to an abrupt halt, however, one August day in AD 79 - when Vesuvius - which had done little more than rumble for years - erupted with cataclysmic force. Two thousand years later, the sites of the Bay of Naples confront the modern visitor with a vivid, haunting immediacy like nothing else in the ancient world. In some cases we even know the names, professions and personal histories of the people who owned the villas and shops we visit.
Your guide lecturer will bring to life the ordinary people of Pompeii, Herculaneum and beyond. New discoveries are constantly being made, and new areas of the site constantly opened up. Lose yourself in the past, walking the ancient streets in the footsteps of gladiators, slaves, senators and citizens...
- Access to new, rarely-visited villas in Pompeii only recently opened
- Led by expert guides – all specialists in Roman Archaeology or Ancient History
- Special access to the Piscina Mirabilis - giant Roman cistern which provided water to the cities of the Bay of Naples
- Historic Churches
- Ancient Greek
- Special Access
We arrive in Naples.
We drive south to explore the temples, site and museum at Paestum. Long before the Romans came, this was a thriving Greek city, part of Greater Greece from the 6th century BC. We wander among the three mighty temples, some of the best preserved anywhere in the Greek world. Next, we visit Paestum Museum which houses the unique painted ‘Tomb of the Diver’ dated to around 480 BC.
We devote a whole day to Pompeii. No other site can compare in revealing the scale and proportions of a Roman town. We visit some of the best-preserved buildings, as well as an amphitheatre, theatre, forum, bathhouses, bars and brothels. The fountains in the street, worn where thousands of people have rested their hands to take a drink; the stepping stones, wheel ruts; the graffiti on house walls. Travelling by the best routes to avoid the crowd we visit several villas which have only recently re-opened to the public. Many of our Guide Lecturers have excavated at Pompeii and will introduce the very latest research that is shedding light on this extraordinary site and thus, the whole Roman world.
Today we marvel at the exceptional collections of artefacts at the National Archaeological Museum at Naples. Many of the best wall-paintings and statues were brought here in the early years of the excavations. More poignant, perhaps, are the tableware, glass beads, dice and other incidental objects of everyday life. After an independent lunch in Naples, we continue to Pozzuoli to see one of the best-preserved amphitheatres in the world. We explore the passage-ways where gladiators would once have awaited their fate...
We have special access to the cavernous Piscina Mirabilis at Misenum, usually closed to the public. This gigantic cistern stored water for the Roman fleet and fed the towns of the Bay of Naples.
We go off the beaten track to the villas of Stabiae, an exclusive Roman resort for the very wealthy. The vast Villa San Marco is one of the most opulent along this coast - and remains very impressive in its scale. The Villa Arianna gives wonderful views over the Bay of Naples and is remarkably little visited. We walk through the grand rooms, chambers and gardens in splendid isolation. Free time this afternoon to return to Pompeii or relax.
We visit the town of Herculaneum, which perfectly complements a visit to Pompeii. The town was buried to a much greater depth than Pompeii. Here, you wander streets with almost complete Roman houses rising on either side, preserved up to their rooftops in some cases! After, we visit another ‘hidden gem’ of the Bay of Naples, the modest farm-house that has been discovered at Boscoreale, named the Villa Regina, now with a fine small museum.
On our final full day, we ascend to the great volcanic crater of Vesuvius. Most of our journey is by bus, but the last part requires a short walk. We are rewarded with amazing views both down into the crater and out across the Bay of Naples, putting everything we have seen during the week into perspective. Later, we spend the afternoon at the villa at Oplontis; buried and preserved, the villa is grander even than those at Stabaie and makes a fitting end to our tour.
We return home this morning.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in program; tips included
- Field Notes
- Hotels - Bed & Breakfast