If you want to really see Pompeii and understand the events that led to its destruction in 79 A.D., hiring a tour guide makes all the difference. Why? Pompeii is big, and if you don’t do it right, it can turn out to be just an overwhelming collection of ruins, with lots of time wasted figuring out where to go and what you’re looking at. On a recent trip to Rome, our family (including two girls, ages 11 and 8) took a day trip to the ancient ruins, as well as Sorrento. While still in the States we reserved a tour through Torres Travel for 110 euros, not including the entrance fee for the four of us and our train fares between Rome and Naples, and Naples and Pompeii. We had waffled back and forth about splurging for a guide (versus doing a bus tour or relying on a guide book), but it was the best decision we made, and I wouldn’t have done it any other way.
Our guide, Sabine, met us promptly at the Pompeii Scavii train station/Villa dei Misteri for our 11:00 am tour. (We left Rome by an Intercity train around 7:00 a.m. to give you a sense of lead-time.) Sabine was born in Sorrento (just a 30-minute train ride from Pompeii) and has an advanced degree in history and archeology . . . or something like that; I can’t remember exactly. She was incredibly knowledgeable of the ruins and the region in general, sharing not only historical facts, but also archeological nuances – like how to tell if a structure is a store or a residence – that really brought the place to life. She was very personable, spoke impeccable English, and clearly has a passion for what she does.
Being with a guide meant that we were able to see the Pompeii ruins in only two and half hours, and this was particularly important with two young kids. She knew exactly where to go, how to navigate the site, and, most importantly, how to avoid the large tour groups! I’m sure we could have visited for longer without exhausting all there is to see, but we all felt completely satisfied with what Sabine showed us, learned a ton of history, and never once felt like we were being rushed. (Plus, then we had time to go to Sorrento for a couple of hours to experience a little of the Amalfi coast!) While we never had experience with Torres Travel’s other tour guides, I have to assume they are all equally outstanding. Thanks to Sabine, this Pompeii side trip from Rome was truly a vacation highlight!
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+39 081 8567802
Tour guide: Sabine (Didn’t get her last name)
Price (in April 2011): 110 euros for 4 people, plus 11 euros each for the entrance fee (including the children)
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