Tuesday, July 8, 2008
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.
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 :