Pompeii or Orvieto??? - day trip from Rome

From those of you with experience, would you suggest Orvieto or Pompeii to someone who has been to neither, and is looking for a day trip from Rome before heading north to Florence? And, why would you so suggest? My limited view from researching leads me to think that both are amazing sites, with Pompeii having its own unique story that cannot be replicated...but Orvieto looks to have great charm in addition to history. Both are easily reachable by train, but the trip to Orvieto is shorter, and will allow for more time to see and do. Guidance is truly appreciated. -Robert

Posted by Ellen
Centennial, CO, USA
1396 posts

Personally, having seen both, (Orvieto twice) from Rome, I'd recommend Orvieto. It's 4 hours to Pompei, so a LONG day if you choose to go. Pompei is amazing, but to enjoy it and not be dragging by end of day, skip it this time and go back if you spend time on the Amalfi coast. (easy from Sorrento) Orvieto is a very enjoyable day trip. The Duomo is great, the well is fun to walk down, just sitting on the city walls with a picnic lunch is wonderful as well. I enjoy some ceramics shopping when there, and just walking from one end of town to the other. Even the funicular ride from the train to town is part of the fun! If you decide to do Pompei I would recommend taking a guided tour. perhaps visit a tourist agency in Rome and get a bus tour, makes it easy to do, and much more enjoyable with a guide explaining the history and the sights.

Posted by Michael
Seattle, WA, USA
5763 posts

I would take the word "easily" out of your description of how reachable Pompeii is by train. Also, I just want to confirm that you're actually asking about Orvieto (the hilltop town) and not Ostia (the Roman ruins), which is often floated as an easier alternative to Pompeii.

Posted by Robert
San Antonio, Tx, USA
29 posts

Ellen - Thanks for the input. Orvieto does sound like an enjoyable day trip. I am leaning that way. Michael - I used the word "easily" simply meaning we can get there in a couple of hours, spend the day, and return late in the evening. While it would make for a long day, it appears very do-able. And I had looked at Ostia, then started centering on Orvieto as the alternative. Or do you think Ostia is a better choice? I am simply looking for knowledge from those that have been there before.

Posted by Ellen
Centennial, CO, USA
1396 posts

Been to Ostia too...it's a fun way to spend a half day. If you have time, do get to Ostia...go early in the morning via Metro (one transfer) and enjoy to around lunch time (bring a picnic lunch, or you can eat at their cafeteria) then go back to Rome for an afternoon of sightseeing. Orvieto will take more of a day to see, but Ostia is worth is....maybe call it the "poor man's" Pompei! There you can walk by yourself and figure out the sights...it's not as large as Pompei, kind of two main streets, and most of the ruins are easy to walk to...plus in Ostia (at least when I was there 3-4 years ago) you could walk everywhere!

Posted by Denise
San Antonio, TX
110 posts

I've been to Pompeii, Ostia Antica & Orvieto.  I would choose Ostia Antica over Pompeii because it is closer & you get to look and walk everywhere.  It's more open & greener.  Pompeii is bigger & has more intact structures, but you are restricted from getting close to some of the structures.  You may want to consider stopping at Orvieto on the way to Florence.  You could take a quick look around but it would nice if you could spend overnight there.

Posted by Denise
San Antonio, TX
110 posts

I've been to Pompeii, Ostia Antica & Orvieto.  I would choose Ostia Antica over Pompeii because it is closer & you get to look and walk everywhere.  It's more open & greener.  Pompeii is bigger & has more intact structures, but you are restricted from getting close to some of the structures.  You may want to consider stopping at Orvieto on the way to Florence.  You could take a quick look around but it would nice if you could spend overnight there.

Posted by Sheron
Alta Loma, CA, USA
1199 posts

I haven't been to Pompeii yet (going this Sept) but I have been to Orvieto as a day trip from Rome and we truly enjoyed it. It was a nice contrast to busy Rome and I think it makes a more suitable day trip than Pompeii because it takes so much longer to get to Pompeii. I would visit Pompeii on a future trip as part of a longer visit along the Amalfi Coast (Sorrento, Capri, Amalfi, Positano, Ravello, etc.) and you could also combine it with Herculaneum but I think it's just too far to go for a day trip. Orvieto is an easy 90-minute train ride from Rome and it's a pretty little town with a variety of things to do. I suggest doing the hour-long underground tour as it's very interesting. You could also climb to the top of the Torre del Moro for the views or down to the bottom of St. Patrick's Well. We loved walking the back streets and getting away from the main tourist area around the duomo. Don't miss the façade of the duomo when it is sunlit...it is beautiful. Have a great trip.

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
711 posts

As an native (I know it's not on the 'list')...hubby and I did a day trip and saw Herculaneum...walking distance from the train stn in Naples, we had time to have a lovely pizza, and took a bus up Mt Vesuvius for some awesome views. We considered Pompeii, but didn't want the looong day...we spent 2-3 hrs at Herc (this was 5 yrs ago, memory fuzzy), and I think all told the Vesuvius part was maybe 2-2 1/2 hrs (drive included)...and we were still back in Rome by 7-8pm.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2501 posts

Having been to all three, I would say Orvieto, for all the reasons posted. Go to the small museum across the piazza from the Duomo - from the upper floors you will have fantastic views of the Duomo's facade, seemingly even closer than looking up at it from street level.

Posted by Teena
Piedmont, nc, usa
282 posts

I've been to twice to each place and they're so different that it really depends on your person preference, a one of a kind experience like Pompeii or a beautiful town like Orvieto. Both are easily accessible from Rome although Orvieto is a shorter trip. The train from Rome to Pompeii is from 1 to 2 hours with another 40 min. for the Circumvesuviana. Leaving early from Rome you'll get to Pompeii in time to spend part of the morning and as much of the afternoon as you wish. While I enjoyed Ostia as well, the ruins at Pompeii are entirely different. I didn' t feel overly limited at Pompeii and was actually impressed by the accessiblity of the ruins. On the other hand, Orvieto is a place I'd rather do as an overnight between Florence and Rome in order to see all the things listed previously. It's also a good place to take a breather between the two biggies. Seeing the duomo in the early morning mist is as beautiful as seeing the sun shining on the mosaics in the afternoon. If you choose Orvieto, be sure to go Wed.- Sun. when L'Antica Trattoria dell' Orso is open. Wonderful little restaurant and Ciro gets real pleasure out of seeing his patrons enjoy their meal. The balsalmic pork medallions are magnifico!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17779 posts

Robert, I agree with the others and if you can only take one day trip, I'd suggest Orvieto. It's only about an hour from Rome by train, which will leave more time for actual sightseeing. It's a beautiful Umbrian hill town with an interesting history. While in Orvieto you could...... > Tour St. Patrick's Well. The double helix design was a magnificent engineering feat in it's day. > Take the Underground Tour. The caves were used as refuge as late as WW-II, and the reason they chose to raise Pigeons there has an interesting background. > Tour the beautiful Duomo. Be sure to visit the small San Brizio Chapel at then end to see the incredible Signorelli frescoes. You could also stop for an early dinner at a local restaurant, and be back in Rome about 21:00. Check the train schedules on the Trenitalia website. I would highly recommend L'Antica Rupe (Vicolo Sant'Antonio 2). Happy travels!

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
711 posts

Why won't this let me edit?! Should say as an alternative, not as a native...lol

Posted by Robert
San Antonio, Tx, USA
29 posts

Thanks to everyone! It seems that (at least for this first trip to the boot) the only things harder than deciding what to see will be deciding what flavor of gelato to get, and whether to order rosso or bianco! Thanks, again.