Pompeii & Naples at New Year
Naples’ streets and buildings are packed with life - festooned with washing and, at this time of year, decorated with the elaborate cribs of the Neapolitan tradition. Explore the city - its wonderful churches and museums, and the astonishing remnants of the ancient city. On top of this, travel to Sant Maria Capua Vetere, the slave home of Spartacus, to visit one of the best- preserved temples to the God Mithras. Then later in the tour, to the incomparable Pompeii – destroyed, yet preserved, by Vesuvius in AD79. This will also be the time to experience a Neapolitan New Year – an unforgettable occasion - residents literally throwing away the old year... This is one of the best places to enjoy New Year’s Eve!
- See out the old year with a day in Pompeii when it is almost devoid of tourists
- Travel to the amazing Piscina Mirabilis - the giant Roman cistern that fed the Roman Fleet at Misenum
- Visit the temple of Mithras, mithraeum, at Santa Maria Capua Vetere with John Shepherd, a specialist in Roman religion and author of the book on London’s famous mithraeum
- Historic Churches
- Special Access
- Just One Hotel
- All Inclusive
We arrive in Naples.
We travel to Santa Maria Capua Vetere and the Museo Archeologico dell’Antica Capua. This afternoon we visit the Santa Chiara Cloister, Roman baths and the San Lorenzo Maggiore.
We spend the day at the incomparable Pompeii – destroyed, yet preserved, by Vesuvius in AD79.
We go beneath the streets of Naples into the Catacombes of San Gennero, once the victim of looting between the 13th and 18th century. We continue to the Capodimonte Museum and it's galleries before an early return to the hotel. This evening we are treated to the ballet.
We begin at the amazing Piscina Mirabilis, to which we have exclusive special access, and continue to Pozzuoli to see one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world. We enjoy the last evening of the year with a Gala dinner at the hotel.
Today we have the day to explore Naples at your own leisure.
We visit Herculaneum today. Buried by pyroclastic surges hotter than those at Pompeii, its buildings remain incredibly well-preserved — even up to their rooftops, in some cases. Afterwards, we venture through Oplontis, best known for Villa Poppaea. We fly home this evening.
We arrive in the enchanting city of Naples, one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, and transfer to our luxurious hotel in the heart of the historic centre.
Following a delicious breakfast our adventures begin with a trip to Santa Maria Capua Vetere. Once the largest city after Rome and the gladiatorial training ground of Spartacus, for a brief spell it defected to the rule of Hannibal, who made Capua his winter residence. In the Museo Archeologico dell’Antica Capua we find recently-excavated artefacts dating from the city’s pre-Roman era, allowing us to chart Capua’s incredible past from 800 BC onwards.
We continue to the beautifully-preserved Mithraeum, a rare example of a cave temple, discovered in 1922, then journey on to the amphitheatre, second only to the Colosseum in terms of size. Our last stop before lunch is the neighbouring Gladiatorial Museum.
This afternoon we visit the Museo Campano. Founded in 1870, this exquisite museum houses a treasure trove of archaeological gems, and is famed for its singular collection of “Matres Matutae”, ancient mother goddess statues. We round off the day at the Church of Sant’Angelo in Formis, an 11th-century church built on the site of a Roman temple.
This morning we head underground, slipping beneath the streets of Naples to view the secret world that lies beneath...
We begin at the Roman theatre, concealed under a typical Neopolitan house, in which where Emperor Nero is said to have performed. We also take in the illuminated Greco-Roman aqueduct and cisterns, hidden some 40 metres below the city. We move on to San Paolo Maggiore, a Baroque masterpiece built above a 1st-century temple which was dedicated to the mythological twins Castor and Pollux. Lastly we make our way to the Church of San Lorenzo Maggiore, below which lies a large and painstakingly excavated Roman market, or Macellum.
We spend our afternoon at the exceptional Naples Museum, a world-class institution housing some of the most important finds from the ancient world, including the immaculate Farnese Marbles, and an extensive selection of artefacts discovered in Pompeii. We have free time to explore more of the museum at our leisure, or take to the bustling Neapolitan streets.
It’s 31 December, and we prepare to see out the old year with a full day roaming the incomparable sights of Pompeii – destroyed, yet preserved, by the mighty Vesuvius in AD 79. Nowhere in the world offers a more comprehensive look at the compelling minutiae of everyday Roman life. We tour villas, bars and shops – even brothels – and step in to a selection of recently opened sites such as the House of Paquius Proculus, with its staggering selection of beautiful mosaics. Expect to be amazed.
Once we’ve done this magical city justice we return to Naples for a lavish gala dinner in our hotel. As the fireworks burst into brilliance over the Neapolitan Gulf, we raise a slender glass and say “Felice anno nuovo!”
On New Year’s morning we get up close and personal with some of Naples’ grandest buildings, beginning at the opulent Teatro di San Carlo, the oldest continuously active venue for public opera in the world. We take in its many sumptuous rooms on an intimate guided tour, and hear stories from the centuries, gathered since the theatre’s inception in 1737.
We continue to the cathedral – marvelling at the mosaics of its 4th-century baptistry – and along Via San Gregorio Armeno, famed for its vast displays of nativity figures and cribs.
This afternoon we head out of Naples to the huge volcanic crater at Solfatara. Smell the sulphur and feel the heat at this steaming mythological location, purported to be the home of the Roman god Vulcan, as well as the site of the grizzly beheading of Naples’ patron saint, Saint Januarius.
Today we visit the once prosperous city of Herculaneum, which was buried by deep pyroclastic surges hotter than those which simultaneously covered Pompeii. Unlike Pompeii, organic objects such as wood, cloth, food and skeletons emerged here from the ash in an excellent state of preservation. Herculaneum suffered significant earthquake damage some 15 years before Vesuvius’ great eruption, and evidence of this is still visible on its buildings today.
Highlights include marble-tiled shops, graceful boathouses in which human remains were discovered, stunning mosaics in the House of Neptune, the luxurious waterfront villa of the House of the Deer, and the House of the Beautiful Courtyard, in which we find two skeletons fused together with volcanic debris.
There is more free time in Naples this afternoon, giving us another opportunity to relax and explore the city at our own pace. Take a reviving stroll beside the bay perhaps, or savour coffee and pastry in one of Naples’ historic cafes.
On our final full day in the Naples Bay area we head north to the Phlegraean Fields for a morning of wonderful Roman waterworks. The Fields were declared a regional park in 2003, and comprise of numerous underwater craters. A focal point for many a myth, the entrance to the underworld was thought to lie within one of its volcanic lakes. As part of our introduction to the area we stop at the gorgeous Piscina Mirabilis – a huge cliff-carved cistern which stored water for the Roman fleet stationed in the harbour at Misenum.
We continue to the Greco-Roman city of Pozzuoli to see one of the best-preserved amphitheatres in the Roman world, constructed by the same architects who built the Colosseum. A sizeable Roman Macellum nearby continues to impress, as does the half-submerged Temple of Serapide.
Before the day is over we return to Naples for a fabulous farewell dinner with the group.
We transfer to the airport and return home.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
- Field Notes
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