Published: June 29th 2008May 23rd 2008
Buried in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius beginning on August 24, 79 AD
When organising this trip, we noticed that the blog boards were full of every man and his dog expressing an opinion over which is better: Pompeii or Herculaneum.
Well we had the time, so we decided to over-expose ourselves to ancient Italia and visit both in the same day. Maybe not the wisest plan, as it ended up not really a question of which site was ‘better’ as they were both really different.
We visited Herculaneum in the early morning before the sun had really gotten some heat into it, and before the site had any other tourists in it. Apart from the odd school group or architecture students, the place was virtually deserted. It was amazing because all the buildings in Herculaneum are open to be explored and because the site is so much smaller it wasn’t as overwhelming - only 8 city blocks have been excavated due the fact it lies beneath 20 metres of volcanic material and modern day Naples. Interestingly though the city of Naples is systematically buying the land around the site and relocating the people who live above it, in a bid to uncover the whole city.
Pompeii was a different story.
We arrived at the site along with 5 tourist bus’ worth of tourists which only added to the thousands of people already swarming over the sight. It was the middle of the afternoon by the time we arrived, and due to a combination of sunburn from the previous day, sheer exhaustion in a heat we’re not used to (damn UK has made us soft), and possibly too much of a good thing (having gone to Herculaneum only that morning) we really didn’t enjoy it as much as we could have.
Pompeii has been thoroughly excavated as it was buried under only 5 metres of pumice and ash as opposed to the 20 metres which buried Herculaneum, which means that there is a lot to see over a very large area (close to 150+ city blocks). We plodded along and saw the main sights of interest, but not sure our heart was in it.
Although Adam did thoroughly enjoy the erotic art in the brothel: the highlight, perhaps, of his Pompeii visit. (Adam says: yes.)
There are more photos below