Italy is a destination that offers something for everyone. From the bustling cities of Rome and Milan to the quaint countryside of Tuscany , it’s a fabulously diverse country.
It also boasts a fascinating history and magnificent ruins – the most famous of which include Pompeii and Herculaneum. Both are essential components of most Italy tours because they are so easily accessible from Naples and its international airport.
You could use the city as your base or you could head down to the beautiful Amalfi Coast. Moreover, it is famous for its dramatic cliffs, colorful fishing villages, and secluded beaches.
But regardless of where you decide to stay, here’s what you can expect from Pompeii and Herculaneum.
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The ancient city of Pompeii was covered in volcanic debris from Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE. Ash and pumice buried the city but also preserved it so that when it was rediscovered in the 1700s it provided a phenomenal view into Roman civilization.
Only about two-thirds of the site has been excavated, so plenty is still being discovered and there is much more to learn about life in Roman times. Who knows, you might arrive just in time to be one of the first people to see something new!
The House of Sallust, suburban baths, and the Temple of Apollo are among the highlights of Pompeii. There are also haunting plaster casts of many of the 1,100 bodies that have been discovered, which isn’t for the faint of heart. They make the scale of the tragedy hit home.
It’s worth considering a guided tour of Pompeii. While you will be part of a larger group, you’ll get a level of insight that may not be achievable just from reading information panels. Ensure you have plenty of water and protect yourself from the sun if visiting in summer.
Closer to Naples and on the other side of Mount Vesuvius is Herculaneum, which was also destroyed by the eruption.
While Pompeii is more famous, Herculaneum is better preserved because it was not hit with as much force by the volcanic debris. Its buildings were not damaged as heavily, with many still retaining their original roofs. This is because the humid ground helped create a layer of rock over the city that remained until it was rediscovered in the 18th century.
Herculaneum is smaller than Pompeii but it provides a far more vivid window into the past. The Casa dell’Albergo, Sacello degli Augustali, and Samnite House are truly breathtaking and will provide memories for a lifetime.
There could be more fascinating insights to come, with a competition launched to find a way to decipher excavated scrolls that are too fragile to unroll.
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