Friday, October 15, 2010


Ercolano, or Herculaneum in English, is another city that was destroyed by Mt. Vesuvius in 79AD.  I had heard that although smaller than Pompeii, Herculaneum was a better preserved site with more to look at in the way of frescos, mosaics, and most of all multi-storied buildings, still standing nearly 2000 years later.

Pompeii was engulfed by approximately 4 meters of burning ash and pumice, whereas Herculaneum was covered by 20 meters of mud and ash from the pyroclastic flow of hot gas and rock. The site, discovered in the 1700's, is still being excavated today.  The modern cities of Ercolano and Portici were built above the ancient Roman city and it is estimated that a number of public and private buildings, including the forum, are still buried under 20 meters of volcanic debris and the modern cities.

Visiting the archeological site of Herculaneum was very different from Pompeii.  Herculaneum was much less crowded, and although small, it had more to offer (in my opinion) than the better known site at Pompeii.

Inside the Terme Suburbane

Detail on the Casa dei Cervi

Casa dei Cervi

Casa dei Cervi

In the Palestra

Thermopolia - ancient Roman fast-food joint

In the next photo notice the bit of glare on the dark door panels at the back of the room.  These are wooden doors, a bit charred, and encased in glass that were original to this home.

Casa del Tramezzo di Legno (House of the Wooden Partition)

A bedroom

Inside the Terme del Foro (Forum Baths for Women)

Wine jugs

Frescoed walls and ceilings

I was blown away by the details and colors that are still so vibrant after nearly 2000 years.  This must have been a remarkable place to live (at least until Vesuvius blew).

The following day we tried to stay on our archeological theme by visiting the Museo Archeologico Natzionale but after being lost in horrible Naples traffic for nearly two hours we gave up and went to the base, hoping to get some help.  We found out that most everything closes on Tuesday in the Campagna region so we ended up back at our cabin and relaxed for the rest of the day and vowed to try again later that week, armed with instructions on where to park and to use public transit to get into the centro of Napoli.

In the meantime, our next adventure was the Alamfi Coast.  Hopefully I'll have time to post a few photos from this amazingly beautiful area tomorrow.

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