Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Herculaneum


You'll do a "Herkie" for Herculeaneam!

This place is charming. In fact, if you're forced to pick only one Circumvesuviana* area ruin to visit, this should be it.

It's not Pompeii. It's not Stabiae.

Some might say it's the best of both!

So what makes "Ercolano" so great?

You'll have a great view of the village from atop as you descend from the Herculaneum of today to it's much older brother that was covered in 79AD. But to best ingest the former resort town, you'll have to explore its homes, passageways and vistas up close and personal.

There is art and artifacts with very great detail here, like the large wall mosaic at the top of this post. It was un-believable. There are a large number of frescos, too, that give a great view into the artistic style of the time.

You'll feel as if you're in an magnificent outdoor musuem with beautifully preserved art. And you are!

We stumbled upon an interesting piece (it kinda looked like a clock or a shrine) that despite being supported with scaffolding (to protect it), it revealed great detail of craftsmanship - including sea shells intricately incorporated into the piece.

This stuff's 2,000 years old, folks!

Herculaneum is known for it's multiple storied dwellings and also artifacts made from paper and leather that surived Vesuvius. We saw singed wood underneath the eaves of structures that would indicate that wood actually burned before being covered by the hot ash of Vesuvius ~ and we found this mind-blowing.

Folks are aggressively working to keep Herculaneum well preserved and we saw the fruits of their labors; roofs rebuilt, awnings added over frescos to protect them from the elements, windows rebuilt to keep the pigeons away. Hopefully this place will be around for thousands of years to come!

There are also artifacts from Herculaneum that are on display at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.

Must See & Do:

The snack bar on site at the ruins we never found, but there was a small avenue of kiosks featuring eager Italians pimping refreshments a 2-3 minute walk from the visitor's center. Make sure and take a hat and water and wear comfortable shoes. Audio tours are available for rent. Make sure and get a map to ensure you are well-poised to explore all the nooks and crannies.

How We Got There:

We arrived by train from Naples and walked 5-10 minutes down the hill toward the ruins.

Suggested Stay:

Allow 3-4 hours to fully explore this magnificent place!

Remember my Naples (2008) post when I mentioned the trash piled 5' high? We also found it here in modern day Herculaneum - proof at right. It's not Herkie's fault!

* "Circumvesuviana" is the area located around the base of Mount Vesuvius. It's geographically expansive.

for the love of : italy

2 comments:

Stacey Wittig said...

Did you see any hawks or falcons at Herculaneum? back in 2005 they started a program to use falconrey to eliminate pigeons. I was wondering if they still use it... I am writing an article and would appreciate the update. Thanks! --Stacey Wittig
wittigwriter@gmail.com
www.wittigwriter.blogspot.com

Patrick said...

Hi Stacey -

I'm flattered someone found my blog!

Sadly, I didn't see any falcons there. Regardless, evidence of the restoration was apparent. In addition to some of the structures having their windows replaced with a clear plexi-glass type material, they also had metal nail-like objects adhered to common roosting areas for the pigeons.

You can see an example of this from my blog at this picture: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_iKrove9ckqM/SLwKHrfIWnI/AAAAAAAAAr8/JcJDV_EhU80/s1600-h/singed+wood.JPG

These types of techniques are being used to help preserve the structures from the birds as well as the awnings, which help shield from the elements (rain and sun).

Sorry the pic is blurry - my camera was on the "blink!"

I need to go dig-up my other photos and see if there's something else there - I do remember birds (mainly flying around) but didn't recall pigeons per se.

Some of the links I found on Google supported the program started in '05 and was planned for about a year. The info said there were three "British Falcons" were participating in the program.

I dug up my Hurculaneum brochure and there are a couple of links that may be useful for you - I'd suggest you send them an email directly - they might be able to point you in the writing direction.

1. More information about the site including a way to contact them directly at:

http://www.pompeiisites.org/Sezione.jsp?titolo=Herculaneum&idSezione=1166&idSezioneRif=1726

2. A link to write Pompeii directly (Pompeii is larger and therefore is kinda the main hub for several of the sites):

http://www.arethusa.net/w2d3/v3/view/flecta/arethusa/italiano/contenuti/musei/ercolano/contenuto.html#

3. A link to the picture of one of the falcons:
http://www.mediastorehouse.com/pictures_508174/704/2/BRITISH-FALCONS-RECRUITED-TO-PROTECT-ROMAN-RUINS-IN-HERCULANEUM-FROM-PIGEONS-AND-THEIR-CORROSIVE-DRO.html


All the best on the article - when you finish it, I'd love to have a link!

PS - If you hit a dead-end let me know - I know a local in Conca dei Marini which is close to Herkie and may be able to point us somewhere else!

Happy T-day,
Patrick