If you are in the region of Naples, you must visit Mt Vesuvius and learn about the infamous volcanic eruption. I must say that the towering outline of this still-active volcano does not fail to impress! It is apparently the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted in the last century. Not only this, but if it erupts again there are now 3 million people living in its vicinity, and it is known for violent and explosive eruptions! I’d be having my eye on that volcano!
We chose to visit Herculaneum rather than Pompeii, as it is better preserved, more compact and conveys a better sense of how people lived in 79AD. The Pompeii site you need to devote a lot of time to cover, whereas you can visit Herculaneum in a few hours. The excavations were truly remarkable. I take my hat off to the Italians for an 11 euro well spent.
As I floated from room to room I could vividly imagine myself to be part of an ancient society that was frozen in time. The frescos upon the walls and tiling on the floors can be seen in almost their original splendour; unlike Pompeii, it was buried deeply enough to preserve the upper stories of buildings. They were truly spectacular – full of rich vibrant colour, giving a sense of the wealthy inhabitants long ago. Additionally, the hotter ash preserved wooden household objects such as beds, doors, and even food. The accompanying audio guide took you through room by room, and although I won’t remember everything I heard, I definitely walked away feeling a deeper appreciation for life before our time.
We learned that Herculaneum was a wealthier town than Pompeii, possessing an extraordinary density of fine houses. Recently 300 skeletons were found along the sea shore of people trying to flee the eruption. It was a fascinating walk down the streets of history and a wonderful end to our time in Italy… after all, what is a trip to Italy without paying tribute to the Romans?!
You can read our blog on the Amalfi Coast here