Private Tours of Pompeii, Herculaneum,
Naples and the Amalfi Coast
Day-Trips from Rome to Pompeii, Naples, and The Amalfi Coast
Turn your Roman holiday into an Italian adventure! Choose one of Roma Experience’s day trips from Rome and take a private tour of Pompeii, Naples and the Amalfi Coast. We offer day trips from Rome with hotel pick-ups to all the major sights in Campania, so you can see more of beautiful Italy, in comfort and leisure.
All our private tours are spearheaded by an experienced local guide, who knows everything there is to know about the region’s history. With your guide by your side, you’ll get to grips with life in Campania from the time of the Ancient Romans to the gossip of the Renaissance Palaces, and up to the present day.
We offer many experiences and private tours of Pompeii, Naples, and the Amalfi Coast. If you’re seeking Naples tours from cruise ships, we have many exciting options for you. See the terrible destruction Vesuvius wrought on Ancient Roman settlements and walk through the bustling cosmopolis of modern Naples. Admire the beautiful turquoise waters of the bays, the heights of Vesuvius, monumental Baroque churches and villages delicately balanced on cliff-sides.
Our private tours of Campania guarantee an experience you’ll never forget.
Tours of Pompeii, Naples & The Amalfi Coast
“Let man talk, describe, and paint as he may,—to be here is more than all. The shore, the creeks, and the bay, Vesuvius, the city, the suburbs, the castles, the atmosphere!
I can pardon all who lose their senses in Naples; and I remember with emotion my father, who retained to the last an indelible impression of those objects which to-day I have cast eyes upon for the first time.”
– Goethe, Letters From Italy, Part VII: Naples.
A Private Tour of Pompeii to Remember
What was once a bustling Roman port town is now the best-preserved Roman ruin in the world, thanks to the terrific eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79, which buried Pompeii in rock and ash. See this ghost town firsthand on a Pompeii day trip. Vesuvius’ eruption, which spelt destruction for Pompeii’s 15,000 residents, gave the world a chance to see daily life as it was, in a normal Roman town, at the high point of the Roman Empire. Now, one of our Pompeii private tours will bring to life all the triumphs and tragedies of this ghost town, before your very eyes.
Life was frozen in Pompeii for nearly 2000 years, before the site was excavated and became a major tourist attraction on the Grand Tour of Europe, in the 1800s. Today, on a Pompeii tour, you can still see the charred bread from the bakeries, never eaten, from the day a pyroclastic surge killed the citizens of Pompeii – in the same spot they huddled, in fear and anticipation, of the destruction that awaited them.
Our private tours of Pompeii will take you through all the major sights of the town. Our local, expert guide will bring the ghosts of Pompeii to life as you walk down its main streets. See the bustling centers of commerce, and the ancient graffiti scrawled on the walls – you’ll be surprised by how much Pompeii is like a modern city!
One a day trip from Rome to Pompeii and Amalfi Coast, you will visit Roman Villas, where the preserved mosaics and frescoes introduce you to the cultural life of Rome, during the high-point of the Roman Empire. Learn about their weird rituals in the Temples, which surround the majestic Roman Forum, and the secrets of their private desires in the local brothel.
Climb Mount Vesuvius With A Local Guide
Visiting Mount Vesuvius gives you a once in a lifetime opportunity to climb the most famous volcano in history. Residents of Pompeii believed Mount Vesuvius was the home of the God Bacchus, because of the wealth of vineyards that curled around the mountain. Today, there’s still plenty of vineyards, but unlike the citizens of Pompeii, we know that underneath the idyllic façade of Vesuvius’ green mountainside is a bubbling pot of molten lava.
Climb Mount Vesuvius to learn more about this sleeping giant, which last erupted in 1944, and has since enjoyed a well-earnt rest. This spectacular dormant volcano is now a national park, and one of the best vantage points for views of the Bay of Naples. See the river of molten lava that runs down the hillside from Vesuvius’ last eruption; an eerie monument to the mountain’s destructive capabilities. A private tour of Vesuvius will take you to the very crater of the sleeping volcano, and from there you get the best possible view of the Bay of Naples, and across Campania.
Herculaneum and Oplontis: Overlooked Roman Wonders
Pompeii wasn’t the only town decimated by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79; the small resort town of Herculaneum went from a lively vacation spot to a grave, as a pyroclastic surge buried the town under 25ft of ash. The luxurious villa of Oplontis also fell victim to the mountain, and so was buried by the force of Vesuvius’ blast; it wasn’t until the 1960s that this treasure was excavated. Join one of Oplontis and Herculaneum tours to see this magnificent and unappreciated ruin, to see Roman life as it once was.
By the time of Vesuvius’ eruption, Herculaneum had gone from a small fishing village to a resort town for a wealthy Roman elite, due to its close proximity to the coast. Like Pompeii, it’s easy to see the cultural life of ancient Rome in this elegant coastal town, as you have their shops, villas, hotels and bath houses. The mosaics of Herculaneum are particularly admirable; a nude Neptune in lava rock and marble in the women’s bath house is especially evocative. Taking one of our day trips, from Rome to Herculaneum, is a great way to access this site in comfort and style.
Oplontis is a magnificent villa, lost from history for just under 1900 years. Today, it’s believed Oplontis was originally the home of Poppaea Sabina, Emperor Nero’s second wife. Poppaea met a miserable end under the boot of her Emperor husband, and Oplontis’ fate was equally catastrophic; the villa was buried 20ft underground during Vesuvius’ eruption. Visit today, and you’ll see the villa of Oplontis is as extravagant as you’d expect from a property belonging to the Imperial Family. The villa’s columns stand tall and proud, and the frescoes on its wall – which are remarkable depictions of an exoticized Orient – still shine in detail and a deep red pigment. Perhaps Oplontis’ most impressive features are the Olympic sized swimming pool, and the network of internal gardens in between the guest bedrooms.
A private tour to Herculaneum and Oplontis is an opportunity to explore two perfectly preserved, Roman archaeological sites, away from the crowds of Pompeii. Visiting these sites is often more rewarding than a visit to Pompeii, as both provide more shade and are more accessible for those with mobility problems. Pompeii attracts 3 million visitors a year, and most visit during the high season of May to October – so it can be very crowded – whereas Herculaneum receives 300,000, and Oplontis, a mere 20,000. If you want to see Roman ruins away from the crowds, a private tour to Oplontis and Herculaneum is the way to go.
Naples is calling you, and as this city was founded by a siren (the mythological forebearer of the mermaid) can you resist? Sirens were known for their beautiful songs, sung to lure sailors into danger, but Parthenope’s song didn’t entice Odysseus, and so, dejected, she landed on the beach at Naples. The townsfolk were so impressed by her beauty they named the town after her, and the mythological Parthenopolis is now just Naples.
Any Italian will tell you that ‘Naples is a crazy town’, and it is, in the best way. This city, where Greek, French, Spanish, and Italian influences meet, where the Italian Baroque reached its heights and with the most impressive belle epoch shopping gallery in the whole of Italy, is very much alive and kicking. Take a day trip from Rome to Naples to see the baroque architecture, admire the Roman artefacts at the Archaeological Museum, eat the pizza, and stay for the vibrant atmosphere. Our tours of Naples will create memories that last for a lifetime.
Castel dell’Ovo is the oldest castle in Naples, a city which has more than seven. The castle we see today is a fortification built during the Norman period of the city in the 12th century. This castle would not look out of place on the coast of Brittany or in South-East England. However, within the very typically French castle that we see today, lies the remains of a much older Roman fortress. According to Neapolitan tradition, the poet Virgil placed an egg within the fortifications of this castle. Which is why the English translation of Castel dell’Ovo is ‘Castle of the Egg’. Virgil, a known sorcerer, placed a curse on this egg and said that if it ever broke, the city of Naples would fall.
The 1600s was one of the worst centuries in Neapolitan history; the city was blighted by earthquakes, plagues and a fairly devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Angry commoners gathered outside the castle, demanding to know if the egg had been broken, and if that was the cause of their misery. Queen Joanne went out to meet the crowd, and answered them that, indeed, the egg was broken – but she’d replaced it with a new one. That placated the angry crowd, and mythology says that ever the new egg was placed in the castle walls, Naples has never again experienced such a period of tragedy…
Piazza del Plebiscito
Piazza del Plebiscito is one of the most iconic piazzas Italy has, which is saying something for a country in which impressive squares abound. On one of our tours of Naples, find yourself looking to the east of Piazza del Plebiscito, where you’ll find the Royal Palace of Naples, and on the right, the monumental church of San Francesco di Paola. Perhaps churches that are much more impressive than palaces are another feature peculiar to Italy, like an abundance of magnificent squares. When you’ve had your fill of architectural wonder, cross the street on one of our Naples tours and take a coffee in the famed 19th century coffee house, Gran Caffè Gambrinus.
The Royal Palace of Naples
The Royal Palace of Naples was built in the 18th century, and it wouldn’t be a particularly impressive structure, if it did not display statues of the Kings of Naples. Depicted on the façade of the Palace of Naples are figures of the Kings throughout history – truly a sight to behold. Just glancing at their clothes leaves a strong impression of time’s slow progression, as the Kings span from the mediaeval Roger the Norman to Vittorio Emmanuelle, Italy’s King in the late 19th century. Looking at the statues of the Kings of Naples gives another reward; its easy to read all the different nationalities of the Kings. Throughout history, Kings of Naples came from France, Spain, the region of modern Germany, and finally, Italy – and this legacy is easy to perceive on the façade of the Royal Palace.
The Church of San Francesco di Paola
It takes an astute observer to notice the statues of the Kings of Naples on the side of the Royal Palace or even the royal palace at all, because, all the while, the church of San Francesco di Paola is demanding your attention. San Francesco di Paola was initially intended to be a monumental tribute to Emperor Napoleon, but when the Bourbon Kings reclaimed Naples, they finished the construction. Upon its completion in 1816, the church was given the name San Francesco di Paolo, after a Neapolitan saint.
San Francesco di Paola appears as a combination of two of the most impressive buildings in Rome: St. Peter’s Basilica and the Pantheon. Like St. Peter’s, the size of the thing first impresses itself upon you – a portico of columns stretches beyond the body of the church itself, and wraps its arms around the square. Its the colossal, engorged dome that lends San Francesco di Paolo the appearance of the Pantheon.
Spaccanapoli, The Ancient Street of Naples
Walk down Spaccanapoli on a private tour of Naples’ historic center and follow in the footsteps of the Ancient Greek founders of the city; at that time, and until the Renaissance, the Spaccanapoli was the most important street in town. When Naples was the Greek colony of Neapolis, Spaccanapoli was a buzzing centre of commerce and Greek civic life, much like it is today, and was the home of many of Naples’ most important aristocrats during the Renaissance.
Today, the Spaccanopoli gets significant footfall from tourists, as it spans many remarkable churches and is full of shops selling anything you can imagine, including, delightfully, pizza places and window counters with fried snacks – a typical Neapolitan specialty. A Neapolitan saying is that there are more churches and pizzerias in the city than there are days in the calendar – and it seems to an outsider like they’re all on the Spaccanapoli. The Spaccanapoli begins at the baroque masterpiece that is the Church of Gesù Nuovo, on past the Church of Santa Chiara, and runs 2km to an ancient Roman statue of the God of the Nile.
The Church of Gesù Nuovo
Gesù Nuovo was initially the palace of the Sanseverino family, but it was later confiscated and converted into a church. Now, its one of the most impressive Baroque churches in the whole of Italy – when you first enter, its easy to be overwhelmed by the gold features and rich red marble coming at you from all angles. One of the most impressive sites in the church is the room full of offerings to Saint Giuseppe Moscati. Many people left behind delicate silver ornaments in honor of this doctor and saint – silver carvings of the body parts he healed.
The Church of Santa Chiara
Opposite the Church of Gesù Nuovo is the Church of Santa Chiara – and the two could not be more different. Gesù Nuovo overwhelms a viewer with an abundance of inlaid marble, reds and golds; whereas Santa Chiara is Catholic minimalism exemplified. There’s something quite incongruous about a church that appears so French, in a city that’s so very Italian, but it delights, nonetheless.
After the Church of Gesù Nuovo, the Church of Santa Chiara provides a much-needed opportunity to rest your eyes and relax in a space that feels holy. Santa Chiara is a mediaeval church in the Provencal style, with a simple interior of sand-colored stone and sweeping arches. What Santa Chiara lacks for decorative features inside, it makes up for in spades in its charming cloister.
Walking into the cloister of Santa Chiara is like being transported back in time. Although you won’t see many nuns today, its easy to picture them walking through this elegant courtyard space. The square of the cloister is framed by mediaeval arches in the French Gothic style, in a color so sandy it almost appears gold. Oranges sprout from trees within the garden space, and their color so compliments the maiolica tiles that decorate the cloister’s walls. It is these 17th century tiles that distinguish the cloister of Santa Clara as an architectural delight. Maiolica tiles are a typical craft from the Amalfi Coast, and the scenes in the cloister show idealized scenes of ordinary life in the 17th century – one even depicts the nuns in the courtyard!
The San Severo Chapel
The Sansevero Chapel isn’t just an example of a Baroque chapel at its most evocative and mystifying – but is also a strange homage to the mysteries of secret societies. Raimondo di Sangro, Prince of the Sansevero family, who was nicknamed il diavolo (the devil) because of his interest in alchemy, his (brief) excommunication and his membership of secret societies, commissioned the chapel.
Unsurprisingly, suspicion surrounded the Sansavero Chapel from the outset. Rumors abounded that it was built on an ancient Temple of Isis, because of di Sangro’s interest in secret societies. Today, suspicious Neapolitans still cross themselves when they walk past the Sansevero Chapel, to protect themselves from any of the Prince’s wicked spells.
However, nothing should stop you taking a private tour of the Sansevero Chapel, not even the imagined threat of a curse. A day trip from Rome to Naples to see the Sansevero Chapel is a wonderful chance to see Baroque art at its most evocative; the marble sculptures contain such unbelievable fluidity it’s hard to believe they’re made of stone. Most impressive among them is the Veiled Christ by Giusseppe Sanmartino. This sculpture shows Christ with a transparent death shroud covering his face, and they mystery of how anyone could make marble look so much like cloth has puzzled art historians and art lovers, like Casanova, for centuries.
When you finish with the main Baroque chapel, another delight awaits you in the Underground chamber – di Sangro’s Anatomical Machines, which show the full human circulatory system wrapped around real human skeletons. Urban myth had it that di Sangro injected two of his servants with one of his positions, which killed them and solidified their veins. Today, we know that the veins of the Anatomical Machines are made with wire, but it doesn’t stop them seeming very creepy indeed. Join one of our tours of Naples to see these horrifying wonders in the flesh – or without, as they are real human skeletons.
The National Archaeological Museum of Naples
Quite a lot of time passed between the excavation of the treasures of Pompeii and Herculaneum and their display in The National Archaeological Museum of Naples. First, the impressive sculptures, mosaics, jewelry and ceramics entered the private collection of the Bourbon King of Naples, Charles VII. Charles had already inherited an impressive collection of classical art from his mother, Elisabetta, of the influential Farnese family of Rome.
That Rome lost the Farnese collection was truly Naples’ gain. After Charles VI was named King of Spain, he made the decision to leave his astonishing collection of classical artefacts to the city of Naples. Although the National Archaeological Museum of Naples remained incomplete in his life time, it was opened by his son Ferdinand IV. There’s now a rather unflattering statue of Ferdinand on the staircase of the museum. Ferdinand is sculpted in the costume of Athena, patron Goddess of the city and the arts, perhaps appropriately, however unflattering; as we have him to thank for completing the Archaeological Museum and giving these treasures to the world.
The collection of the National Archaeological Museum is incomparable. The Statue of Hercules, taken from the baths of Caracalla in Rome, is one of the highlights of their impressive collection of monumental classical statuary. Hercules stands, at three times the size of a normal man and at twice the width, at the end of his life. His body is so muscular and powerful that its tone still shocks, even today, when we are more accustomed to the chiseled torsos of athletes.
Moving on from the Farnese collection and walking upstairs, you reach the collection of artefacts from Pompeii and Herculaneum. Most impressive among them are the mosaics of the House of the Fawn. Here, you can see the mosaic of Alexander defeating Darius at the Battle of Issus. Where Alexander’s face is confident and proud, Darius’ is crumpled in fear and doubt – it is almost beyond belief how anyone could render such psychological subtleties in miniscule tiles.
The Archeaological Museum of Naples also boasts an extensive range of bronze statuary, jewelry, household objects and even food (!) uncovered from Pompeii and Herculaneum. If you want to walk on the wild side, the Archaeological Museum of Naples contains a little side room of erotic art, taken from Pompeii and Herculaneum, that for years and years, women weren’t allowed in. Nowadays, any adult can enter, so, ladies – enjoy!
Visit the Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast Road is 26 miles of precarious cliff faces, staggering mountains, the smell of pine and lemons in the air and all with a perfect turquoise sea at your side. It’s no wonder that private tours of the Amalfi Coast have been popular since the European Grand Tour of the 1800s, when artists, poets and other men of the upper class flocked to the most beautiful and fascinating regions of Italy. Our Naples shore excursions to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast mean that you can see these natural wonders firsthand.
Today, the Amalfi Coast is one of the most impressive UNESCO world heritage sites in a country that boasts over 54 – more than anywhere else in the world! Drive on a day trip from Rome and and you’ll first reach Sorrento, a town that’s been used as a holiday destination since the time of the Romans, who visited to enjoy beautiful nature away from the chaos of the city.
Continue onto Positano, a medley of pink and orange houses leaning precariously on a cliff top, above a sandy beach that meets the Tyrrhenian Sea. Go on to Amalfi, a mediaeval city that was once more important for Italian trade then Venice, and which today has architectural wonders like the Cloister of Paradise – with a name like that, it must be worth a visit! Choose one of our Pompeii and Amalfi coast tours from Naples for an experience you’ll never forget.
Sorrento will steal your heart if you let it. This little yellow and orange town is stacked above the sea, and its no wonder it’s been a popular holiday destination for nearly 2000 (!) years. Locals say Sorrento has the best restaurants on the Amalfi Coast, and they’re certainly kinder to your pockets than the ones in Positano, so make sure to stop for lunch and enjoy the fresh fish. If a liquid lunch is more your style, why not swing by Fabrica del Limoncello to see how limoncello is made and bottled and try some for yourself! After Fabrica del Limoncello (if you’re still on your feet) visit the mediaeval St. Francis Church and Cloister – this remarkable church, in the French Gothic Style, is so beautiful that people travel from all over the world to have their weddings here.
Long, long ago, from a time when accounts of history read more like mythology, Greek sailors were said to stop at Positano before continuing on their expeditions to more Northern parts. The rumors are the town takes its name from the God Poseidon, who helped guide sailors to safe passage, or punish them on the rocks.
For many centuries, Positano was an uneventful fishing village amidst the backdrop of the gorgeous Amalfi Coast. Nothing particularly dramatic has happened in Positano, apart from fretful sailors abandoning an Icon of a Black Madonna on Positano beach, because during the voyage she screamed and demanded to rest on land.
However, just because life in Positano was idyllic and uneventful, does not mean it wasn’t remarkable. Positano is a series of delicately balanced cliff-top houses, in pastel shades of pink, yellow and orange – all which seem to be yearning toward the sea. Our day trip from Rome to Pompeii and Amalfi Coast means you will get to see this magnificent view for yourself. Narrow paths guide you in crisscrosses from the houses, down to a strip of sandy beach that’s unsurprisingly packed in the summer months.
Positano is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever go in your life. Generations of visitors have been enchanted by it, including the writer John Steinbeck, who wrote ‘Positano is a dream place’ – and he wasn’t wrong.
Don’t feel embarrassed about pinching yourself to make sure you’re not dreaming while you walk through Amalfi – when the sun’s high in the azure sky over this little, mediaeval, Mediterranean town, it’s unbelievably pretty.
Amalfi’s beauty isn’t the only thing about the town that’s unbelievable; the origin story is as well. Legend has it that Hercules fell in love with a beautiful young nymph called Melphe. When she died, he buried her in the place he considered the most beautiful in all the world – the area that would become Amalfi, named after the beautiful nymph.
It’s more likely Amalfi was founded in the later years of the Roman Empire, but where’s the fun in that tale? Amalfi grew to be a hugely important trading center in the 9th century, after splitting from Naples. Until the rise of Venice, it was the most important Maritime power in the whole of Italy.
Today, Amalfi is a treasure to walk around in. It’s hard to believe that, at the height of Amalfi’s power, this town was city-size with a population of 70,000. Tragedy and decline beset Amalfi from the 12th century onwards. After a flood from the sea and a landslide from above, half of the city was eradicated from the earth.
Today, the pink, yellow and orange town that remains, framed by mountains and sea, is a sight to behold. Amalfi’s proud legacy of trade with Byzantium can still be seen in the Cathedral; a magnificently unique church, one in which tottering tiled arches, columns and rich gold-leaf are tastefully combined. From the late ‘40s onwards, the Italian glitterati, including Sophia Loren and Roberto Rossellini, fell in love with Amalfi Coast – and when you visit, you’re sure to love Amalfi too.
Amalfi: Home of Europe’s First Paper Mills
Amalfi was the first place in continental Europe where paper was produced, which perhaps is its biggest contribution to the development of European civilization. Amalfi acquired the technique of paper making through trade with Byzantium, where the technique was already predominant. The paper mills in Amalfi ushered in the end for sheepskin parchment, and almost certainly positively contributed to a significantly higher adult literacy rate in Italy than elsewhere in mediaeval Europe. Today, you can tour the Paper Museum in Amalfi, where you’ll see paper made with techniques from the 14th century – you can even take some home!
Of all the places to visit on the Amalfi Coast, Ravello is perhaps the most peaceful. Another charming mediaeval town that totters above the Med, it’s stayed off the radar of most tourists, despite inspiring cultural titans like Richard Wagner and D. H. Lawrence. You won’t get lost in Ravello, as the town seems to pivot around the charming little square that contains the Duomo. Walk through Ravello’s resplendent gardens and totter along verandas that seem to lean into the sea, as previous Ravello holiday-makers Tennessee Williams and Greta Garbo once enjoyed.
Take A Tour of Pompeii, Naples or The Amalfi Coast for An Experience You’ll Treasure Forever
If you’re seeking a day trip from Rome to Pompeii, or to any of the other amazing sites in Campania, join one of our private tours to experience this magnificent region in luxury and style. We provide private drivers on our day trips from Rome and for all our Naples shore excursions; no matter how hot it is outside, inside the car you can chill in cool AC.
Our expert tour guides are all educated in the history of this region, so put them to the test and ask them anything – these knowledgeable guides will have the answer. Our experiences in Pompeii, Naples and the Amalfi Coast will put you in some of the most beautiful, historic places on earth, where you can create treasured memories that’ll last a lifetime.