Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A visit to the ancient sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum || One week in the Amalfi Coast


In terms of cultural history, there's a huge amount to see at Pompeii and Herculaneum, the ancient Roman sites frozen in time by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

A visit to each individual site cost 11 euros for admission but you can buy a ticket for 20 euros that gives you access to 5 different archaeological sites across 3 days that include Herculaeum and Pompeii. You can take the Circumvesuviana train from Naples or Sorrento to the Ercolano station for Herculaneum or the Pompeii Scavi station for Pomepei.

Pompeii


Herculaneum used to be a posh residential area, much smaller than Pompeii and more well-preserved than Pompeii. There was even a villa nearby where Julius Caesar’s father lived. It was astounding to walk past the grand houses with courtyards, fountains, baths and temples; all so well preserved. And there were some gorgeous wall mosaics and frescoes that gives a glimpse of how sumptuously decorated the houses were. I couldn't get my head around the fact that we were seeing actual pieces of art and architecture created in 79 AD!

A courtyard in Pompeii

Pompeii is about six times larger than Herculaneum and used to be a bustling city centre. However, now there are barely any free standing structures left and most of the mosaics and important artifacts are in museums. To be honest, I enjoyed visiting Herculaneum more than Pompeii which was a bit over-whelming for me. What was also depressing was seeing the calcified bodies that were on display. It was heart-wrenching and morbid to see such an intimate glimpse of someone’s last minutes before being frozen in time by volcanic ash.

Herculaneum

 We decided to visit Herculaneum first in the morning since it was shadier and I was quite determined to avoid being caught under the fierce sun in Pompeii. In retrospect it was good we went to Pompeii in the afternoon around 4 pm because the crowds had died down as well. Tip: I’d suggest getting a tour guide for Pompeii - we relied on our guide book and got a bit lost as most of the sites were closed for restoration and the guidebooks didn't have the most up-to-date information.


Looking back, I think how remarkable and awe-inspiring it was, that we were able to wander around these ancient sites and see how people lived almost 2000 years ago. A must visit destination if you are travelling around the Amalfi Coast.

A house in Herculaneum

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