Years after my first and only visit to Pompeii, I am still in awe.
Many of the excavations at Pompeii have been well-preserved – some better than others – so it’s not difficult to really get an idea of what life might have been like. I remember standing in what was a residence, looking at a cooking area, and thinking, “This was someone’s kitchen.” Mind = blown. Then there is the craftsmanship, how well everything was built, from the roads to the amphitheaters. So many of the frescoes are still intact and are absolutely vibrant. They’re like windows to the past, through which visitors can get a glimpse of how people, especially the wealthy, lived.
My daughter was two years old when we visited Pompeii. Based on my experience there with her, I suggest the following for families:
- If visiting Pompeii with infants and younger children, ditch the stroller and consider using a child carrier backpack. Navigating the ancient, cobblestone streets of Pompeii with a stroller would be difficult, bumpy, and uncomfortable for you and your child.
- Bring snacks, drinks, and possibly even a sack lunch. I’d read ahead of time that dining options inside and outside the gates are not plentiful. We bought some sandwiches at a shop near our hotel in Naples to bring with. It worked out perfectly; we had a nice little picnic lunch near l’anfiteatro.
- Please understand the significance of this UNESCO World Heritage Site and realize how fragile it is. For these reasons and for the safety of your children, please DO NOT allow them to climb or play on the ruins. I witnessed, with my own eyes, children climbing on and therefore damaging the excavations, and their parents said and did nothing to stop them. The family spoke a language I didn’t recognize but it didn’t stop me from saying something to them. I’m not sure they understood the words I spoke, but I think my tone and body language did well enough to convey the message.
- Spend the extra 5€ or so for the audio guide. It’s one thing to view the ruins on your own and say, “Oh, that’s cool,” but it’s an entirely different experience when you can hear the history of the individual sites.
- If you’re staying in Naples, take the Circumvesuviana to Pompeii. It’s a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to get there. And it’s another excuse to ride the train, something my daughter still loves to do!
- If you can’t get enough of Pompeii, or it just didn’t make your Italy trip itinerary, be sure to check out the Naples National Archaeological Museum. It houses a large collection of artifacts and mosaics from Pompeii and it is absolutely fascinating.
I’m so glad we didn’t skip Pompeii just because our daughter was so young. It’s definitely doable with children, so long as you’re prepared.