See some of Pompeii’s most important artefacts at the site of their discovery. The Antiquarium of Pompeii is a small museum that hosts rotating exhibitions that bring to life different aspects of Roman life through the artefacts that were discovered in the city. One of the best things to see here is the digital reconstructions of Pompeii’s famous buildings, as well as multimedia recreations of what life was like in this ancient city. The museum building itself also has an interesting story to tell, dating back to the 19th century, this building has survived the Allied bombings of 1943 and the Naples Earthquake of 1980.
Visit the ancient Forum
What was once the centre of life of this ancient city, take some time to stroll around the forum of Pompeii. This place dates back before the 2nd century B.C., where locals would once gather to sell their produce and merchandise. The area once was once featured arcades and coverings, to protect shoppers and merchants from the weather, and public buildings were built along the sides of the square. At the forum, you’ll be able to see the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, which was once the central focus of the site. It was once the most religious site of Pompeii, though its remaining sculptures were transferred to the Archaeological Museum of Naples. You’ll also be able to spot the remains of the once-beautiful travertine floor.
Spot the faun at the House of the Faun
What was once the home of wealthy Romans, the House of the Faun was one of the most impressive houses of Pompeii. It is one of the most luxurious examples of aristocratic homes from the Roman period, which has revealed much about what life was like for wealthy citizens. Explore the ruins of this former palatial home to get a taste of what life was like for the ruling class of Pompeii. The house takes its name for the bronze statue of a dancing faun that was found in the middle of the entrance hall. There were also many frescos found on this site, including one of the battles of Alexander the Great.
Walk around the grounds of Teatro Grande
Called the Grand Theatre for its massive scale, this ancient amphitheatre is the oldest of its kind in the world. With construction dating back to 80 B.C., Teatro Grande is an anomaly both in its discovery and in its design. Take a walk around the grounds to discover the peculiarities of the amphitheatre’s design. Unlike other amphitheatres – like the Colosseum for example – Teatro Grande has no basement under the floor of the arena. Large holes around the circumference of the site suggest that it did, however, have a huge roof to allow performances to take place in any kind of weather.
Discover Terme Stabiane (Stabian Baths)
The Terme Stabiane, or the Stabian Baths, were a Roman bath complex of the city of Pompeii. As the biggest public bath in the city, it played an important social role in the city. Discover what bath time meant for the locals of Pompeii at this fascinating complex. Something closer to what we might recognise as a modern-day gym, the Baths has a gym and exercise area, which people would work out in before taking a bath. Bathers would enter from the vestibule, stop off in the vaulted changing rooms – which were separate for men and women – and then pass through tepid bath before taking a hot bath. Be sure to check out the men’s changing room, which is beautifully decorated with stuccos of cupids and nymphs.
Things to do in Pompeii
With its ancient amphitheatre still intact, Pompeii is a pretty good spot to hit up a performance or two. The Pompeii Festival is an annual festival that features Opera and Ballet performances. Spanning across the summer months, all shows are held in the breath-taking Grand Theatre of Pompeii, which was built between the 3rd and 2nd century B.C.
Pompeii Theatrum mundi
Much like the Pompeii Festival, the Pompeii Theatrum Mundi festival makes use of the spectacular Pompeii Grand Threatre, which is still standing today. Throughout the summer season, the Naples Theatre Group, known as Teatro Stabile Napoli, puts on performances of ancient and classical plays in this spectacular setting.
Music & Culture
Notte Bianca, or ‘white night’, is an annual festival held all over Italy, which marks the end of summer. Held in early Autumn, check out Notte Bianca in Naples for an all-night celebration that features musical and artistic performances, as well as heaps of food and drinks, in the historic centre of Naples.
Music & Culture
In a region as historic as the Bay of Naples, it’s only fitting that they celebrate traditional music. Held in September each year, Festival Ethnos is a celebration of traditional ethnic music from all over Italy, especially of the Neapolitan variety. You’ll find Festival Ethnos in the city centre of Naples every September.
Cornetto is a free music festival that happens each year in Naples. Held in the grand Piazza Plebiscito, this free festival is hosted by the City Council on one night in June or July. In the past, this festival has hosted likes of Sting and Santana. Not bad for a free gig!
Top 5 Festivals in Pompeii
Even though the city may have been destroyed, its culture lives on. Pompeii is still host to a few festivals throughout the year, especially during the summer months. Between Naples and Pompeii, here are five festivals you can hit up during your stay in the Bay of Naples.
National Archaeological Museum
One of the most important archaeological museums in the country, the National Archaeological Museum in Naples has an extensive collection of ancient Greek, Roman and Renaissance artworks. It also houses collection of mosaics and other artefacts recovered from Pompeii, Herculaneum and other cities destroyed by the explosion of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.
The ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum had a bit of a thing for erotic art. The collection of these works are held in separate galleries in the National Archaeological Museum, known as the Secret Museum or the Secret Cabinet (Gabinetto Segreto). Some of the artefacts in the collection include sexualised frescoes of the god Priapus (the god of fertility) and phallic oil lamps.
Certosa di San Martino
If you want a different view of Mount Vesuvius, head up Vomero Hill to the the Certosa di San Martino. This former Catholic monastery not only gives the best views of the city of Naples below and Pompeii beyond the mountain. This monastery also contains amazing Baroque artworks.
Museo Cappella Sansevero
Museo Cappella Sansevero is a Baroque-style chapel that was built in 1590. The museum houses important works by leading Italian artists of the 18th century, including Giuseppe Sanmartino’s famous statue of the Veiled Christ. Art lovers, you can find Cappella Sansevero in the historic centre of Naples.
MUSA - Museo Universitario delle Scienze e delle Arti
For a crash-course in the history of Pompeii and Herculaneum, head straight to MUSA. This university museum of arts and sciences has an extensive collection of artefacts from the former Roman cities. The complex also has a Botanic Garden and Museum, a Museum of Mineralogical Anthropology and a huge on-site library.
Top Museums & Galleries in Pompeii
If you’re heading straight to Pompeii, we know you’ll want to soak up as much history as humanly possible. Here are our picks for five Pompeii museums in Naples that tell the story of Pompeii and Herculaneum really well – plus a couple of fun ones we think you’ll love, too.
Filetto di Manzo al Pepe Verde
While you might not be eating meat in Italy as often as you do at home, they sure know how to do a green pepper steak, Thick, juicy medallions of meat are cooked medium-rare and served with generous pouring of a creamy, pepper sauce. Get your fix of filetto di manzo al pepe verde at Amor Mio Restaurant in Naples.
Best eaten at Amor Mio, Via Giovanni Amendola 69, 80031
Italy does cured meats better than (almost) anyone else and their love for antipasti runs so deep, it opens every meal. Take a chance to get acquainted with different types of salumi (cured meats) at Mercato Pompeiano. Savour the salami, discover bresaola and learn the difference between prosciutto crudo and prosciutto cotto at this quaint eatery.
Best eaten at Mercato Pompeiano, Via Sacra, 13, 80045
Italy’s answer to bacon and eggs is spaghetti carbonara, and that’s okay with us. Surprisingly, this creamy pasta actually doesn’t use cream at all. Fried pieces of pancetta and onion are added to freshly-cooked spaghetti stands, which are then coated with a mixture of raw, scrambled eggs and parmesan.
Best eaten at Tempio Ristorante, Via Villa Dei Misteri 1, 80045
Italy’s favourite food, the pizza doesn’t get much better than it does in and around Naples. Traditional Neapolitan pizzas are cooked for 60-90 seconds in a super-hot oven – we’re talking 485 degrees here – to get that perfect thin base and fluffy crust. For the authentic experience, grab a margherita or a marinara at Corso 283 in Naples.
Best eaten at Corso 283, Corso Vittorio Emanuele 283, Naples 80132
Light, crunchy pastries stuffed with ricotta cheese and candied peels? Yes please. Start your day with a sfogliatella, an Italian pastry shaped like a lobster tail. You’ll find these sweet treats in bars all around the Bay of Naples. Down yours for breakfast with an espresso at Sfogliatelle Attanasio.
Best eaten at Sfogliatelle Attanasio, Vico Ferrovia, 1-2-3-4, 80142
Food in Pompeii
The best thing about eating in Pompeii is that you get to choose from restaurants between two cities. With buses going back and forth between Naples and Pompeii all day long, you could basically have aperitivo (happy hour) with some salumi in Pompeii, then ride over to Naples for a pizza-filled dinner. Whichever your choice, here are five foods you should be trying.