Pompeii, a city covered by volcanic ash, is familiar to anyone visiting Italy. Time stands still here, frozen in 79AD when Mt Vesuvius erupted. What most people don’t know, is that while Pompeii was covered with ash, its northern neighbor Herculaneum was covered with mud.
What is significant about this? The mud encasing all the buildings, prevented oxygen from igniting the timbers, consequently there are many several story buildings & even timbers, doors & roofs still standing. While smaller these ruins are more complete & give a more detailed glimpse into the daily lives of its inhabitants.
While you can see the original mosaic floors from Pompeii & Herculaneum in museums, you can also find them still in the homes in both locations. What is most amazing is the fresco covered walls are still intact as well.
Pompeii’s sheer size can be overwhelming, so allow lots of time to tour. On the other hand Herculaneum is much more complete and compact. Both are a great choice as a shore excursion from Naples, and easily accessible using the Circumvesuviana line on the train. For Herculaneum alight at Ercolano and walk down the hill to the site. For Pompeii alight at Pompeii Scavi, which is the main entrance. Be sure to check the train schedule (the Circumvesuviana link) for up to date times.
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