Herculaneum and Pompeii are two amazing historical cities preserved in time from the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy. I love history and Europe is like a giant treasure trove of history. The story of the volcanic eruption which destroyed the city of Pompeii is a tragedy that gives us a chance to see something preserved on a scale that would have ordinarily been lost in time. When we were in southern Italy, I knew that I couldn’t pass up this opportunity. After we explored the Amalfi Coast we spent a few days in the beautiful town of Sorrento before deciding to head up to Naples. The most convenient way for us to see Pompeii and Herculaneum was to hire a car to take us from Sorrento to Naples and make stops along the way. This allowed us to site see without having to worry about our luggage and not have to back track to either city.
As we approached Pompeii our driver arranged for us to have a tour guide meet us at the entrance. She took us right through bypassing the lines and showed us the highlights of the ruins. Hiring a guide here really enhanced our experience. As we walked through the bathhouses, brothels and villas she painted a picture in out minds of the lives of the ancient Pompeians up to the moment of the eruption, culminating with some haunting casts of the people at their final moments. You can see Mount Vesuvius standing prominently in the background as you explore the city, an ominous reminder of its eruption in 79AD that covered it in 25 m of ash. Today it is still regarded as one of the most dangerous active volcanoes in the world.
Herculaneum was first uncovered before Pompeii. Though the area of excavation is much smaller there are many perks of coming here that make it worthwhile. Here you won’t find as many tourist because it is harder for tour buses to get through the narrow streets so we found ourselves strolling through this ancient city relatively by ourselves. If you’re doing the journey on your own I would recommend coming here first because you can buy a package ticket for this and Pompeii. Because of the direction the city is located from the volcano, most of the ash from the eruption fell on Pompeii which collapsed most of the roofs, but in Herculaneum it remained intact. This left behind two story buildings that really gives you a more complete idea of how grand the lives were of the people living in this period.
I really enjoyed exploring these two ancient cities. Hope this inspires some to visit them as well.