The town of Pompeii, originally a native Oscan settlement founded in the 7th century BC, is 16 km south of Herculaneum. The city was conquered by Greeks, Etruscans and Samnites, and finally became a Roman colony in 80BC along with Herculaneum. Pompeii was a thriving, noisy market town of about 20.000 inhabitants, filled with shops and bars and small family factories. Traders constantly came and went, while wine and a potent fish sauce were Pompeii’s most popular exports. On the day Vesuvius erupted, Pompeii was the scene of a different but no less deadly series of catastrophes. Many more pumice stones showered down here than at Herculaneum, while dense layers of ash settled at the rate of about 15 cm per hour. Roofs began to collapse and the town was in almost total darkness. The people who died waited too long inside their homes, trapped by fallen timbers and they were unable to breathe from the gases. The excavated city is much larger than Herculaneum, covering an area about one kilometre east to west, and about half a kilometre north to south. Plan on spending at least four hours here.
The most important sites are accessible to the public and others can be entered with a guide. Pompeii is the most visited site in Italy and in the World.