Day trip to Naples and Pompeii with Ciro!
Updated: May 26
For many, Naples conjures images of dirty streets and rampant organized crime. Visitors to Italy quickly dismiss the port town as not worth their time and plan other destinations instead. Thankfully, we took a day to explore the city with a private guide, Ciro, and my only regret is that we didn't have time to see more of Naples. Having a private guide in Naples and in Pompeii made our trip so much more memorable. When traveling, consider spending a little more for a knowledgeable guide.
Before we arrived in Naples, I arranged to meet our guide, Ciro, for a day-long trip to Pompeii and then to Naples for Pizza and a few stops in the city of Naples. Cir suggested that we take the earlier train from Rome, but we were traveling with our boys who were 4 and 7 years old at the time, and they needed more rest. The result was that we were somewhat rushed. Despite not having enough time, we were delighted with the expertise Ciro provided and thoroughly enjoyed our trip!
When we arrived in Naples by train, Ciro greeted us warmly and whisked us off to his van, which was parked nearby. He took us to his favorite neighborhood coffee shop for an espresso and pastry. The espresso was arguably the best I have ever had.
From the espresso bar, Ciro drove us to Pompeii and told us all about incidents with nearby volcanoes and the surrounding areas. The drive to Pompeii was about 30 minutes. When we arrived at Pompeii, Ciro set us up with a guide, Loretta. Loretta was fantastic and full of knowledge. She did a fabulous job of including our kids in Pompeii's history and teaching them all about the ancient city. The eruption of Vesuvius brought devastation to an entire civilization and preserved their way of life for generations to come. Our guide, Loretta, described Pompeii as a modern-day Las Vegas that had a reputation for being a party town. Wealthy Romans frequently traveled to Pompeii for gambling, partying, and gladiator fights. Before the eruption, Pompeii and neighboring villages were warned by tremors though they did not know what those tremors were foreshadowing at the time. Then, Pompeii was tragically and suddenly buried by ash from the nearby erupting Mt Vesuvius in 79 AD. The devastating eruption sealed the city in ash for well over a thousand years. Loretta expertly guided us through the daily lives of the Pompeiians who were buried alive by the eruption. She showed us the public baths, a home, a bakery, and laundromat where urine was used to clean clothes, the stadium, and much more. I was very impressed to see the colorful frescoes, which remain mostly intact in some of the dwellings. Loretta also took us to see the people whose last moments of life were preserved by the ash.
Seeing the Pompeiians' casts gives the visitor a real sense of the lives lost and humanizes what must have been a nightmare scenario for the Pompeiians. Pompeii is expansive, and a visitor might easily get lost the maze.
Additionally, the information she provided was so much more extensive than what we could have discerned on our own. We especially appreciated how much she made an effort to teach our boys about the significance of the site and its deep history. Seeing the world, much like ancient people, was an eye-opening educational experience for all of us. If you visit Pompeii, I recommend hiring a guide; your experience will be much more meaningful.
Following our tour of Pompeii, Ciro took us to an authentic Neopolitan Pizza Restaurant. It was a small place where locals eat. The pizza was the best we have ever tasted. When it first arrived, we were shocked to hear that we should each order an entire pizza and that our boys should each get a half.
The pizza was paper-thin when it arrived. I must say that I had no trouble eating the entire pizza myself. It was delicious and full of flavor. We ordered a total of 3 pizzas and a bottle of wine. When our check arrived, we shocked to see the total. I was around 30 euros if I remember correctly. Though I wish I did, I did not keep a record of the exact cost. I recall asking Ciro if it was the total was correct since it was so small. While we ate, Ciro also bought two small toys for our boys, and they were thrilled. We were very impressed with the thoughtful gifts, and our boys loved them!
After the pizza, we toured a Cathedral in Naples, drove through the busy streets, and saw a few sites. We also quickly tried a traditional Neopolitan pastry called a fiocco de neve from Pasticceria Poppella. Fiocco de neve translates to "snow flake" in English. It is a brioche dusted with powdered sugar and delicately filled with a light ricotta based cream.
Unfortunately, our tour of much of Naples was rushed because we took a later train from Rome that morning. Despite the rush, we had a wonderful memorable time! I highly recommend Ciro to anyone who wants to tour Naples or the Amalfi Coast area. He is very knowledgeable and hospitable. Click here to contact Ciro for a tour!