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Lunching as Ancient Pompeiians: An Honest Review of Caupona Restaurant in Pompei, Italy


Ever wonder what it was like to live in ancient Pompeii, before the disastrous eruption of Mount Vesuvius?


Caupona Restaurant, a unique restaurant located near the ruins of the archeological site of Pompeii, with its hand-painted frescos and magical atmosphere, welcomes you back to ancient Roman times and allows you to experience dining as it was in ancient Pompeii.


 

What's the difference between Pompeii and Pompei? Pompeii (with double "i") refers to the UNESCO World Heritage Site and ruins of the ancient Roman city, but Pompei (with single "i") refers to the modern Italian city, within the metropolitan city of Naples, Italy).

 

Beautiful painted walls in Pompeii, Italy
Beautiful painted walls found in Pompeii, Italy

 

NB: (July 2024) Italy is currently experiencing a heat wave, with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees. Be prepared while travelling, by dressing in light, breathable cotton/linen clothing and stay hydrated.

 

During our trip of a lifetime on Italy, we ensured we explored the wonderous beauty that is Naples, spending time in the city center, hiking up to the summit of Mount Vesuvius, spending a glorious afternoon wine tasting at Cantina del Vesuvio and of course, allowing for time to wander the ancient Roman streets of both archeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum. No matter how much time we allowed, it never seemed to be enough, there is always so much more to do and see.





The key to Making Them All Trips of a Lifetime is research and making the most of your trip with experiences tailored to your tastes and interests. While staying in the modern city of Pompei, in Naples, our primary focus was visiting the excavated ruins of ancient Pompeii.


Planning on spending the majority of two days in the archeological park, we opted for the new Community MyPompeii Card, which is an annual pass that allowed us to exit the site and return the next day without having to pay a separate entrance fee.




 

TIP: The Community MyPompeii Card pass can only be purchased online prior to the first visit and costs $35 Euro. A one time ticket to Pompeii is $19 Euro, so if you plan on visiting more than once, or want the freedom to leave and re-enter during the day, the MyPompeii Card is the better option.

 

Having the freedom to leave the archeological site of Pompeii and return without lining up at the ticket office or paying again also allowed us the freedom to lunch outside the site and not be limited to the few food options available within Pompeii. Our research brought us to Caupona Restaurant, a nearby authentic recreation of ancient Roman dining that heightened our overall experience.




Caupona Restaurant Review: How to Get to the Restaurant


After a full morning of walking through the ancient streets at the archeological site of Pompeii, we built up an appetite and decided it was time to get out of the hot Italian summer sun and break for lunch.




Having researched beforehand, we planned on visiting a nearby restaurant that promised a magical and authentic Pompeiian experience.


From the Porta Marina exit of the Pompeii National Park, it is only a 5-10m walk to Caupona Restaurant, following the slope of Via Villa dei Misteri. Caupona Restaurant is located on Via Masseria Curato, along and narrow laneway, easy to miss if you're not looking for it. Walking down the quietly secluded laneway, it felt as if we had taken a wrong turn, so don't be alarmed if it feels off.


Stepping through the iron gates and into the courtyard of Caupona Restaurant, we were welcomed at the main door to the restaurant by two hosts. One hostess was a young lady dressed as an ancient Roman. We sat inside, facing the courtyard so we could take advantage of the cool shade but still enjoy the view.





UNIQUE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE:  Don't want to struggle with finding the proper exit and walking to the restaurant for lunch? With this tour, you're not only provided augmented reality glasses, with which you can see the reconstruction of buildings as they were in ancient Pompeii. The tour also includes lunch at Caupona Restaurant.




 

Note: We only link to products and services that we have either used or would use, all opinions expressed are our own. Some may be affiliate links, with which we may receive a small commission for purchases made.

 

View of the courtyard from our table, Caupona Restaurant, Pompei, Italy
View of the courtyard from our table, Caupona Restaurant, Pompei, Italy


Caupona Restaurant Review: What to Expect at Caupona Restaurant


We were seated at a small wooden table with simple wooden chairs. Each table was adorned with terra cotta goblets, cutlery and deep red napkins, and simple tapered wax candles. The walls were stunning. We were surrounded by beautiful hand-painted replicas of frescos found at the archeological sites of Pompeii, in bright, vivid colours, indicative of those of the ancient Roman period.



Beautiful wall paintings at Caupona Restaurant, Pompei, Italy
Table at Caupona Restaurant, Pompei, Italy



The metropolis of ancient Pompeii was considered a major resort city during the times of ancient Rome. Many private homes excavated in the archeological site of Pompeii, once filled with compressed ash and debris, reveal stunning painted walls, with vibrant colours even today.


Our server was the young hostess who was dressed as an ancient Roman. She greeted us, welcomed us by lighting our candle and pouring water into our terra cotta goblets.


She then offered to dress us both up in typical ancient Roman wear (similar to the long draping toga dress she wore) to truly engulf ourselves in the magical atmosphere. Knowing we had to return to the archeological site of Pompeii after lunch to continue our exploration (and not very comfortable in the spotlight) we opted against it.


If this is something you enjoy, it is a fun way to enhance your dining experience.







 

What is a Caupona? The "Caupona" or "Taberna" refers to the tavern or place where food (and sometimes lodging) was on offer in ancient Roman times, often seen in the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum as opened to the street for a version of "fast food" service. Caupona restaurant in Pompei is considered the first faithfully reproduced ancient caupona.

 




An example of a Pompeii caupona/taberna, Pompeii, Italy
An example of a Pompeii caupona/taberna, Pompeii, Italy


LUXURY TRAVEL TIP: Not planning on staying in the modern city pf Pompei? Book this tour which provides luxury transportation from the Naples city center to visit the ruins of Pompeii.


Caupona Restaurant Review: What to Eat at Caupona Restaurant:


We ordered much needed bottles of sparkling (and flat) water while we perused the menus. Caupona Restaurant offers both contemporary and ancient Roman dishes, all served on hand-painted terra cotta plates.


Menu Cover, Caupona Restaurant, Pompei, Italy
Menu, Caupona Restaurant, Pompei, Italy




The menus themselves are a work of art. Bound with white string, each has a unique cover made from thin slice of wood, with hand-painted images that could have been found among the frescos of both ancient Pompeii and Herculaneum.


While we grappled over the choices on the menu, we were provided with a warm rustic loaf of bread, hand made the way it would have been in ancient Pompeii. With a crunchy exterior and soft interior, it was absolutely delicious, especially drizzled with a little olive oil.


We were also given each (free of charge) a small meatball appetizer to start on small terra cotta side dishes (the non-vegetarian was happy to eat both delicious bites).







Caupona Restaurant offers a few different menus to choose from, depending on the type of experience you're looking to have during your visit: a more contemporary selection for every day use and specific recreations of ancient Roman and specifically Pompeiian recipes.


We opted for the more contemporary selection of menu items. As a starter, we chose the typical Caprese Salad, made with rustic tomatoes slices, thick bufala mozzarella slices, drizzled in balsamic vinegar and basil leaves. Coupled with the rustic bread Caupona Restaurant provided, the simple flavours were perfection. On a hot summer afternoon, sipping cold frizzante mineral water from the cool terra goblets was wonderful.


Click below to scroll through the appetizer selections:





For the main course, we each chose a different pasta dish, one a delicate cheese agnolotti with cherry tomatoes and cream, and one a gnocchi dish with mussels in a light broth. Both were unique and full of flavour. For dessert, we opted for a pomegranate-berry granita and a special deconstructed cheesecake, beautifully decorated with edible flowers and cookie crumble. Oh my goodness, they were both delicious.


The dishes were simple, in traditional Italian fashion, but elegant and elevated. Portion sizes were perfect, even after building up an appetite with the morning exploration and walking, we left Caupona Restaurant and headed back to Pompeii fully satisfied.


Click below to scroll through the main and dessert selections:







Overall, the food, the atmosphere, the experience, was positive at Caupona Restaurant in Pompei, Naples, and one that we would happily revisit next time we find ourselves visiting the archeological site of Pompeii. If you plan on visiting and exploring the ancient ruins of Pompeii on your future trip to Italy, plan for a lunch break that will enhance your knowledge and experience of the ancient city at Caupona Restaurant.





 

Caupona Restaurant, Pompei, Italy

Overall Ranking - 4/5


Caupona Restaurant is a hidden gem.

The restaurant may be a little hidden and out of the way from the main strip, but the quality of the food and the attention to detail in the presentation, make this restaurant worth the effort and extra steps. Ensure you have time to savour and are not in a rush, so to fully enjoy the experience. If you enjoy the dramatics, opt for dressing up in traditional clothing while you eat!






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