Pompeii Highlights – Buildings, Temples and Interiors.

This post is a follow up to my tips and advice post for visiting Pompeii  if you are a first-time visitor.

If you have read that post, or if you want to see the highlights, please read on!

I did not do a lot of reading about Pompeii before the visit and decided to purchase a guide book. After entering the site, and maybe a minute or two walk, is a visitor centre with indoor exhibitions and a bookshop.

If I were to do the trip again, I would opt to get a guide instead, but the guide would need to be a historian. Or, hire an audio guide. It is very difficult to make sense of what is in front of you as there is very little written guides available.

However, while photographing these, I would photograph the name of the building or region so that I can later look back on where I have been.

I am not a historian and I used both Google search and my photographs of the building names and descriptions for reference. Thank you for reading and I hope that you enjoy this post!

Pompeii Highlights

In terms of regions, I went via an anti-clockwise direction starting from where the public administration buildings are on Regio VII, like below:

Forum, Pompeii.

And from there, I went around the corners, through the inner layout (which was primarily residences, aristocratic residencies, and commercial districts) before exiting again through the administrative and religious buildings.

There are some very special areas in Pompeii, so if your time is a bit short you may want to make a note of these areas so that you can see them.

Casa del Fauno or House of the Faun features a tranquil green courtyard, statue of a dancing faun and possibly an early example of the square grid design on the floors.

Palestra Dei Luvenes contains a mosaic on the floor that is decorated with mosaic of physical fight between two athletes and interesting paintings within the interior.

Painting inside Palestra dei Luvenes

Casa del Cinghiale has a mosaic featuring a wild boar:

Tempo di Iside still looks very ethereal thousands of years later:

House of the Cryptoporticus, owned by a wealthy owner.

The villa also had a garden on one of the lower level roof terrace:

They expressed their tastes through the sumptuous baths and the art and designs adorning these from the dainty bird designs to something a bit more daring:

Casa dell’Efebo contains some nicely preserved illustrations below:

Casa e Thermopolium di Vetutius Placidus 

House of the Orchard was interesting as it had motifs featured on a dark background and was a merge of the Greek cult with the Egyptian. A similar design can be found in the Villa dei Misteri in this post.

Finishing off Pompeii

I finished the site by going through Region VI.  This area is a bit rough – with the ruins being overgrown with nature but was among the area first hit. There is not a lot of special notes in this area and not many visitors.

Exploring Pompeii, Italy – tips and advice for first-time visitors.

Region VI street with Mt Vesuvius in the background.

Pompeii was a definite highlight for me.  I decided to pay a small premium and buy my tickets online the day before. It still required lining up, but my wait was only for 10 minutes at around 9.20am compared to much longer lines for those who did not purchase in advance.

Advice visiting Pompeii in summertime

Some things I recommend that you do based on the trip to Pompeii mid August:

  • If you have the time, don’t do the set tours. These only cover a small portion and your entry fees are not covered.
  • It is worth the premium online to buy your tickets at another provider. You still need to wait in line to pick up the ticket but the line will be shorter.
  • Have comfortable shoes, comfortables clothes, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses. Sunglasses are a must since the sun reflect off the stones.
  • Go early, like from 9am. Far less crowds (especially the big tourist crowds). This means some good photo opportunities at places like the Basilica, the Forum, Tempio di Giove and more without much tourist interference like below.
  • Statue of a centaur at the Forum in Pompeii.
  • I lasted until 1.30pm, then took a 1.5 hour break before taking a 3pm bus to Mt Vesuvius. You can buy your bus tickets at the entrance to Pompeii near the train station and buy the entrance tickets from the private bus.
  • It may be worth bringing something light for lunch instead of waiting at the kiosk/restaurants. There was a restaurant up a hill but it was still closed during my visit. There are water fountains around the site to replenish your water bottle.
  • For cheaper food and less crowds, there is a restaurant that is to your left after leaving the trains, by the parking entrance and away from the groups of restaurant.

I walk through Via delle Tombe (through the Necropoli di Porta Ercolano) and Villa dei Misteri which had some very interesting internal works below like the Egyptian/hieroglyphics inspired motifs:

Heiroglyphic inspired motifs at the Villa dei Misteri, Pompeii.

The exit requires you to walk through a long ‘driveway’ all the way back to the train station.  Not a lot of people went through here though, and I suspect that much of the large groups had been either tourists, or people left via the main entrance/exit points.

Continue reading…

Pompeii Highlights – Buildings, Temples and Interiors.

France 2017 – Exploring Versailles and Château de Fontainebleau


Make sure to go antiques shopping in the village of Versailles

Before going to the palace, make sure to have a walk through the city first. There are some wonderful antiques stores in Versailles, as shown in the photos below:

Visiting the Palace of Versailles

When we arrived at 11am, we were greeted by a very long line.

We decided to head out to the Gardens of Versailles first, which ended up being a good idea as during this time it was fairly sparse and you could enjoy the Gardens with very little people about. We went down the Gardens from the right hand-side, walked to the Grand and Petit Palace, then walked back up to the Palace through the Gardens on the left-hand side (by then, it was busy).

By the time we finished the tour of the Gardens and the surrounding areas, it was around 2pm and there was virtually no line into the Palace. We head out for lunch nearby then went back in again to explore the Palace of Versailles, with no line and less people about, until it was closing time.

Château de Fontainebleau

I’ve been watching all two seasons of Reign which is a Netflix show around Mary, Queen of Scots. I was really excited to visit the Château as it was featured in the show. It also contained a lot of French history and does not have the same number of visitors and hype as Versailles.

The palace was originally a 12th century medieval palace, and later turned castle for the likes of Louis VII, Napoleon III, Henry II, Henry IV, Catherine de Medici and more.

Many of the rooms inside were probably more luxurious than inside the rooms of Versailles. My favourite area was Gallery of Francis I, originally constructed in 1528, containing woodwork and paintings.

There is also a garden with a small lake that visitors can hire a boat in outdoors.